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Moontower, Day 3: Bill Burr

Burr's fever-pitch brilliance kills at the Stateside

By Anne S. Lewis, 1:30PM, Sun. Apr. 28, 2013

Moontower, Day 3: Bill Burr

There are comics, and then there's Bill Burr, a guy on a way higher plane than just about any. Burr strides onto the stage and grabs the audience by the collar – and that includes you out there with your smart phone-illuminated faces, stupid enough to be texting during Burr's shrill, high-pitched brilliance.

What, you're texting during this? Burr can't hide his contempt for anyone whose attention he's failed to engage. "Probably writing a blog," he sniffs with Boston-street sarcasm. Frankly, it's hard to imagine anyone who could – or would want to – be distracted from what's going on with Burr up there.

He covers a lot of ground in his allotted time, and it's never enough. A Burr set is a seamless, seemingly one-off conversation he's having with that evening's tough crowd, just thinking out loud, manically processing his stream-of-consciousness through that working stiff, always just-below-the-boil sensibility of his. He'll work himself into a lather, say, over the unacknowledged radiation those new airport security devices are emitting and then manage a segue into a loop about why we don't give Stalin credit for having out-genocided Hitler. An emphatically non-p.c. hypothetical about adopting a kid ended on a note about the difficulty of expressing the basic human affection he, a childless, single male, feels and needs to express ... on his pit bull.

Actually, it's surprising, vulnerability-revealing comments like the pit bull thing, that Burr artfully drops – seemingly spontaneously, sometimes almost inaudibly – at the top of some particularly fever-pitched histrionic – that kind of tonal reverse – that goes a long way to elevating his comedy into the stratosphere. That and the essential Burr personality.

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