The Buzz: Bill Burr’s new comedy special isn’t funny; check out some Super Bowl ads
This week in television, a historic football game pulled in over 113 million viewers, but let’s focus on the big story of the week: Bill Burr dropped a new comedy special on Netflix. And it isn’t funny. Check out my review, as well as a few television spots that premier during the Super Bowl, below:
Bill Burr: Walk Your Way Out comedy special review: Watching a comedy special is a high stakes gamble for me. If the jokes are good, it’s usually the highlight of my evening. If they’re not, though, it genuinely makes me sad, because I’m wasting my time watching it, and now I have to grieve for the members of the live audience who have to force laughter. Unfortunately and surprisingly, Bill Burr’s latest Netflix special falls into the latter category, after a streak of comedy home runs in his career. Titled Walk Your Way Out, you will probably want to do just that.
The special opens with Burr riffing about the lunacy of the presidential election. You know, the one that ended months ago. That we’re all sick of hearing about. That comedians make the same jokes over and over about. To be fair the special was filmed while the election was still happening, but even if the subject matter was fresh, Burr’s viewpoints wouldn’t have been unique or interesting. Both candidates are incompetent. Okay, cool. Yeah, we know. He brings nothing new to the table.
He segues his pseudo-political talk into an overlong bit about what he would do if he were a dictator. His plan would be to sink cruise ships. Because, apparently, people who take cruises are boring, and no one would miss them. Burr attempts to cajole the mostly quiet audience into agreeing with him that hearing cruise vacation stories is boring, but no one really agrees, because that’s not something anyone ever really thinks about. He goes on to say that sinking cruise ships would solve the overpopulation problem. You know, the main political issue we’re all worrying over. I’ll tell you what else sunk.
Burr’s schtick as always been offensive humor. I personally have no issue with that, and it can work as long as it’s reasonable, and, well, funny. His previous specials, such as You People Are All The Same and I’m Sorry You Feel That Way are two prime examples of offensive humor done well in recent comedy. But he’s lost his touch in this special. He’s no longer making natural, witty observations. He’s purposefully trying to think of funny material, and we’re smart enough to pick up on the distinction. He rants about how McDonald’s changing its menu (adding salads and all day breakfast) is the result of the apologist, fat-encouraging societal climate we live in today. Um, what? As if having the ability to order pancakes at 3 in the afternoon is something anyone would complain about. His jokes would be funny if anyone actually felt that way.
And then we get to the Hitler bit. The less said about it the better, but Burr lingers on the historical figure for 15 minutes, flailing to get a single loud response from the audience. (Okay, it probably wasn’t a full 15 minutes, but it sure felt like it.) When no one laughs at his jokes, he goes off on a pre-organized rant that’s meant to seem spontaneous, but isn’t. “I’m gonna be on the news tomorrow with the headline, can comedy go too far,” he says, mistaking the audience’s reservation for oversensitivity rather than a basic understanding for what makes a joke funny.
I’m a fan of Burr’s. Still am, even after this, because all his stuff I’ve seen before this special has been legitimately funny. This special does have a couple chuckle worthy moments, mostly when he rants about a gorilla who learned sign language near the end of the special. If you’re going to watch Burr, walk your way over to one of his earlier specials (he’s got three others available on Netflix, and a pretty funny podcast). If you do watch this special and don’t laugh – don’t worry, you’re not being overly sensitive. Just normal.
Super Bowl television spots: Looks like things are getting stranger. In the brief teaser for season two of Netflix’s smash hit Stranger Things, we see glimpses of Eleven’s return, the kids dressed up as Ghostbusters, and… is that a spider monster? Season two will drop on Halloween.
So this is how the cookie crumbles. This ad shows Taraji P. Henson’s character going on a rampage with a baseball bat a la Negan on The Walking Dead. Apparently Lucious did something to piss her off. Again. Empire returns March 22.
In the night’s most clever TV ad, here we see Albert Einstein playing some Lady Gaga on a violin. Geoffrey Rush will play Einstein in Genius, National Geographic’s first ever scripted series, directed by Ron Howard. Rah rah ooh la la, got your bad theory of spatial relativity. The show is coming soon.
Star Trek: Discovery delayed… again: CBS is discovering that creating a Star Trek series is much more challenging than it seems. Initially schedule to premier in May, the premier has been pushed off indefinitely while production is underway. The show is charting a bumpy course through its production cycle, losing show runner Bryan Fuller back in October, and postponing the premier from January to May. The show was originally going to screen its pilot on CBS before moving over to the network’s online service, CBS All Access.