In “Live at Red Rocks,” the comic is in his customary irate mood, usually over the same issues, as the rest of the nation is in disarray.
Bill Burr is one of the many people that appear in the current HBO George Carlin documentary to laud the eminent comic. His inclusion makes sense given that, like Carlin, Burr is a hugely popular stand-up comedian who tends to rant and has an antipathy for political correctness and a fondness for nihilism.
In his testimony, Burr relates being stunned while watching the filming of Carlin’s 1988 special, What Am I Doing in New Jersey. He had anticipated more of the wordplay-heavy comedy that Carlin had relied on for years, possibly a reprise of his famed “My Stuff” routine. Instead, he discovered that, at age 51, Carlin had reinvented himself as America’s foremost exposer of political and cultural hypocrisy. He had changed.
On Burr’s most recent Netflix special, Live at Red Rocks, there isn’t any indication that there is admiration for either Carlin’s development or this particular manifestation of him. Burr, who is 54 years old, has been performing stand-up comedy for a very long time. He’s enraged! aimed mostly at women And his general stance is that all sides are wrong! Burr’s both-sides shtick has never felt more flimsy or calculated than it does right now, though this is probably in part because of the emotionally charged moment in which his new special debuts.
The pandemic stuff comes first. Burr is tired of both types of COVID hypocrites: the patriots who refused to take a government vaccine and the safety zealots who, gasp!, occasionally removed their masks in public. Just two equally disgusting types of individuals.
Burr doesn’t actually have any jokes about people who are annoying about masks in various ways, therefore the issue isn’t that doing so is improper. He simply uses their existence as evidence of how bitterly divided America is and how both sides are wrong. Never mind that one side is empirically far worse if you believe in the value of vaccination and at least some mask usage at some time, as Burr seems to.
Why Even Compare Them, Even If Only For Comic Effect?
Then, Burr switches from the epidemic to cancel culture because every Netflix contract must have a clause forcing comedians to spend a portion of their special to the subject. Burr’s term, however, is purposefully ambiguous.
Burr supports incarcerating serial sex offenders like Harvey Weinstein, but he’s opposed to pretty about every powerful man being called out in any capacity in the years that have followed. Burr claimed that when all the bad guys were caught—which undoubtedly occurred—”they” employed the new technique known as cancel culture to “get rid of those men that maybe were in your way.” Bill Burr doesn’t provide any instances, so if you can, please let him know.
By defining cancel culture so broadly, various complex problems are reduced to two negative sides: men who harass women sexually and those who thrive on ousting strong men. I don’t care if anyone likes it, what does “getting rid of” these dudes mean? It appears that Burr is “briefly enraged on Twitter.”
He remembers, for example, the day in 2019 when many people became upset over a 1971 Playboy interview that surfaced in which the actor John Wayne, who passed away in 1979, uttered a few racist things. On Twitter, they vented their anger, but after that, nothing changed.
Absolutely nothing Burr, though, uses that instance as evidence that both the #MeToo movement and cancel culture have crossed a line. He certainly appears to make more of a fuss out of this than it merits, which is surprising coming from a guy who frequently gets angry at people who he claims make mountains out of molehills.
Burr first performed his John Wayne-related skit when hosting SNL in late 2020, and it appears that nothing in the year that followed persuaded him to revise it for the special. Not exactly nothing, though.
Additionally, he describes the terrible incident that occurred after Sean Connery passed away: Some Twitter users brought up Connery’s prior remarks about assaulting women. I’m done now. Nor did they coordinate and campaign to get Sean Connery’s films removed from HBO Max or any other streaming service.
They momentarily tweeted. If incidents like these are the apex of cancel-culture overreach, Bill Burr has some fantastic news. Those moments won’t even exist if he merely logs out of Twitter.
Burr instead questions why those who would dare to criticize Sean Connery aren’t similarly upset about Coco Chanel’s associations with Nazis. Nobody knows what the two have in common. The key, in my opinion, is that despite historically occurring instances of terrible behavior by women, no one has ever been upset with them.
Later in the episode, Burr rails against the hypocrisy of how while it’s acceptable to remark that some college-age white guys seem like date rapists, it’s “not permissible to state” that someone looks like a lesbian. He has constructed two sides, and it would take more space for me to explain the differences between them than I am ready to give. The fact that Burr is permitted to say it, though, is even better news. He actually did it on this special. for a high price.
Although Burr is obviously angered by what “you’re not permitted to say,” he doesn’t seem to be aware of or concerned that, as he was filming this show, conservatives were enacting legislation that forbade teachers from discussing specific aspects of Black history in the classroom.
Or that they were moving toward outright barring instructors from bringing up LGBTQ topics. Even though those concerns may not be as crucial to free speech today as John Wayne’s right to be racist in 1971 or Sean Connery’s right to promote beating women in the 1960s without it ever being brought up again, some people nonetheless care about them. possibly some people in Burr’s audience.
Perhaps since Burr is aware that some of the reactionaries who are currently transforming America into a less free country are also among his audience, he lacks any fodder on them. Maybe it’s ungenerous to propose that. In any case, there’s a reason why George Carlin’s decades-old material on the subject keeps going viral in the wake of the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade and why few people are likely to share the abortion bit from Burr’s new special (he’s pro-choice, but he still believes it’s killing a baby).
Carlin recognized that sometimes you had to choose a side.