Comedian Bill Burr credits the Internet for exposing him to an international audience

Stand-up comedian Bill Burr has also acted in hit television series Breaking Bad.
Stand-up comedian Bill Burr has also acted in hit television series Breaking Bad.PHOTO: OURY ANGELO

Jokes told in a comedy show should stay in the show, lest they get taken out of context and offend the general public.

So says American stand-up comedian Bill Burr, well known for his acerbic style that sometimes trades political correctness for straightforward barbs at society.

Speaking from Los Angeles ahead of his first show in Singapore at Kallang Theatre on Friday, the 46-year-old says: "There is the whole set of social rules where things that are acceptable in a comedy club are not acceptable on the nightly news.

"So instantly, whatever you say in the comedy club comes off as way more crass on the news."

Having built up a career over the past two decades, he is known for his recurring role in fellow American comedian Dave Chappelle's Chappelle's Show, and has regularly done his routine on popular talk shows by David Letterman, Jimmy Fallon and Conan O'Brien.

Television viewers, however, know him best for his brief but memorable role in the award-winning and compelling Breaking Bad, a drama about a teacher-turned-drug kingpin and one of the most acclaimed television series of recent times.

Burr played Patrick Kuby, a former policeman- turned-bodyguard and henchman to lawyer Saul Goodman on several episodes.

Breaking Bad ended its five-season run in 2013, but Burr, a huge fan of the show, is hoping that he gets called back for a part in a new offshoot series, Better Call Saul. A prequel of sorts, the new show takes place before the events in Breaking Bad.

"Saul Goodman isn't even named Saul Goodman yet, so I think he has quite a journey before he runs into my character but who knows? I have no idea, all I know is that I'm watching every episode."

Burr, who is married to actress Nia Renee Hill, has also taken on roles in Hollywood comedies such as Stand Up Guys (2012), which stars Al Pacino and Christopher Walken, and The Heat (2013) with Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy.

His latest movie is the recently released Black Or White (2014), a drama in which he plays a lawyer opposite Kevin Costner.

He has also done hour-long comedy shows for online media streaming service Netflix and is currently working on an upcoming animated series, F Is For Family, for the company.

Besides his weekly comedy podcasts, videos of his skits are also widely available online, but Burr assures fans going for the upcoming live show that they will hear fresh and original jokes.

Besides other Asian stops Hong Kong and Mumbai, his current tour includes shows in Australia and New Zealand.

"I won't be repeating any material, I have a brand-new hour all ready to go and it's going to be the usual, my crazy talk and my theories. I think a lot of it is going to be developing as I go, stuff that I see in Australia and New Zealand and whatever I've experienced in Singapore up to that point.

"I'm sure I will have stories to tell. It's going to be fun."

1 You've been doing comedy for 23 years. What is the biggest change that you have seen in the industry in these years?

Social media and the Internet. Twenty years ago, I wouldn't have been able to do a show in Singapore because people would have no idea who I was. I wouldn't even be able to go to Australia, unless I was on a big television show or a movie star. But just as a comedian, just telling jokes, because of Netflix, the Internet and YouTube, social media and podcasting, I can actually reach all these people around the world.

2 A lot of people know you from Breaking Bad. What is your best memory of working on that show?

I was a huge fan of the show, so to actually get on Breaking Bad, I felt like I got sucked into my TV. It was the most surreal thing I ever did.

I'd have to say I did a scene and we were done with our scene and I asked if I could go on set and have a look. Remember the meth lab they had underneath the dry cleaner? I actually got to walk into it to see it and watch (main actors) Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul do a scene in there, which is the coolest thing. I felt like I won a contest.

3 Did you make any new year resolutions this year?

Yeah, I'm working on my temper, trying not to slip out at little things in life. Yes, I have this resolution every year but it's all pretty good, I'm trying harder this year than I have in the past and my wife's been helping me out with that. I haven't lost my temper in about seven days, which is a record for me.

4 On your current tour, you are making your live debut in several countries such as Singapore and New Zealand. How do you feel about doing these faraway shows for the first time?

I feel like I should be paying the people that show up. Most times when you travel the world, it's costing you money. I'm actually going out there and I'm making a little bit of money. I can't believe I get to do what I do for a living in my country, forget about going to all these other parts of the world that I've read about and seen pictures of. My big thing is going to Asia, to go to Singapore, Hong Kong and Mumbai and meet people and talk to them and hear what they think and see what makes them laugh. It's going to be a life- changing experience, I think.

5 Do you have to adjust your routine when you do shows outside the United States?

Maybe a little bit, but it all depends on what you talk about. If I was just talking about specifically American things, then I will have to change it a lot but I'd like to talk about human things, like my wife, working on my temper, that type of thing, stuff that's relatable.

6 You are working on an animated series F Is For Family that is coming out later this year. What is it going to be like?

It's a six-episode animated show that will be coming out on Netflix in December and it's a show that I created with Mike Price from the Simpsons and (Hollywood actor/comedian) Vince Vaughn. It's basically about a family growing up in the 1970s somewhere in the US and it's loosely based on my childhood. It's basically all the crazy stories from my childhood animated.

7 Do you see yourself doing more television or movies than stand-up?

I definitely see myself getting more work, hopefully bigger parts and stuff. But I will always be a stand-up comedian, and I will always travel my country and any other country that will have me. It's too much fun.

8 How would you like to be remembered?

Oh I don't know, I just hope when I'm gone, comedians who are still alive, when they watch my stuff, they think I'm funny.

dinohadi@sph.com.sg