From Donald Trump to fatherhood to political correctness, there were dozens of topics that I wanted to take up with standup comedian Bill Burr during a recent phone conversation. But there was an elephant in the room: Did the Boston native and New England Patriots fan really think Steelers tight end Jesse James dropped that touchdown pass in during the Dec. 17 game?
“I think you guys won that last game,” Burr says. “I remember we had that game won and, on the next play, we gave up like 90 yards on a screen pass. After that, I remember thinking, ‘We’re not going to win the Super Bowl.’ Maybe if we’re doing that in September, Belichick can turn it around. But you can’t do that in December.
“But I love Pittsburgh, it’s always been good to me.”
Like many Pittsburgh youth, Burr became a sports fan at birth. And like Pittsburghers, he knows how being a sports fan can feel like a full-time job.
“When I was a kid and I’d meet someone who’s not into sports, I couldn’t understand it,” Burr says. “But now that I’m older, when I meet people who don’t watch sports, I’m jealous. I’m like, ‘Good lord, what do you do with all of that free time. How many languages do you speak?’ If I didn’t watch sports, my schedule would really open up.”
Sports isn’t the only thing taking up Burr’s time. The comedian is a new dad, tours consistently (he’s got two shows in Pittsburgh this week) and is also working on several film and TV projects. Last year, Rolling Stone ranked him 17th on its list of the 50 greatest standup comics of all time. His animated show, F Is for Family, was just renewed for a third season on Netflix; set in 1973, it features an Irish-American family, with Burr as the foul-mouthed patriarch, Frank Murphy.
According to IMDB, he’s also about to play former presidential candidate George McGovern in a biopic about the rise and fall of Democrat Gary Hart. Or is he?
“I gotta tell you something, I gotta be honest,” Burr says. “I’m not playing George McGovern. There was never any talk about me playing that person. ... But I can tell you one thing — it’s funny as hell and I ain’t taking it down. There’s also a bunch of untrue stuff on my Wikipedia page. I thought about taking it down, but the hell with it; it’s a form of privacy. People put whatever out there, so they can get their website with your information on the first page of Google search. Those first three things basically become your story, regardless of whether any of it is true or not. Nobody, myself included, goes past the first page. Jesus, I can’t imagine what’s on page five.”