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Ottawa Bluesfest 2015 – Day Eleven

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Ottawa Bluesfest 2015 – Day Eleven

This is the typical comedy club atmosphere: dim lights, dark, chipped, wooden small tables and even smaller chicken wings. The beer repertoire isn’t substantial but a blonde is perfect to wash down the taste of stale wings. Everything is dark except for him or her who dares to be spotlighted on stage (it’s usually a him). 
 
Now throw that picture away because Bill Burr’s Ottawa show was the polar opposite of the typical comedy gig.
 
Second’s before Burr made it to the stage at Bluesfest, beach balls were being tossed around by the energetic crowd; the sun was beginning to set; seagulls matched the crowd’s energy, fuelled by hot dog and poutine debris. In the middle of delivering a joke Burr would stop cold and say, “Look at that sunset though, it’s beautiful! I’ve been doing this for 25 years and I’ve never said anything like ‘Oh that’s a nice breeze’, this is hilarious.” From the get-go you knew this wasn’t going to be your textbook stand-up performance. And I’m glad it wasn’t.
 
As soon as Burr stepped to the stage he was showered with the love and whistles you’d see at a rock concert. But the warm enthusiasm soon became an obstacle for the 47-year-old. A dark, acoustically appropriate theatre invites the crowd to appreciate in silence; a rock venue invites a crowd to participate and overdrink.
 
“Alright 15 minutes in and I haven’t finished one joke,” said Burr, after he’d had to engage in conversation and humorous banter with borderline hecklers for the first portion of the show. But after those first 10 minutes, Burr’s decades of stand-up experience became evident when instead of showing frustration he confidently asked the crowd to let him to his job. The many that had come for laughs had been tamed and Burr was ready to do his material.
 
From how unfair it was to assume that you couldn’t even be surprised by Bruce Jenner becoming Caitlyn Jenner to how he’d solve the overpopulation problem with systematic genocide, Burr showcased that he’s still the master of his craft, able to talk about uncomfortable topics that make you laugh because of how true (albeit ridiculous) they are. 
 
“When I shave, everyone’s like ‘What the fuck man?! What happened to your face?! That’s what your skin looks like?” he said, “But you’re gonna tell me that my childhood hero leaves the house a man and returns a woman and I have to act like nothing happened?”
 
Burr, considered by many to be the leading comedian in the scene at the moment, enjoys the boxing match between a crowd and a comic; he loves to go against the current, best exemplified with statements like “I see nothing wrong with the pay gap, a man should make more than a woman.” Although the fans naturally hold back in disagreement, at the end of the joke (which walks you through how much money married guys spends on a woman) the crowd is laughing and clapping and back to cheering. 
 
Burr is at the top of the game because his dislike of political correctness, people getting offended and internet bloggers comes as a refreshing break from the newest American past time: getting easily offended by everything.
billburr
Written by Ali Rodriguez
THE SCENE

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