November 30, 2017
There are some classic moments in the history of comedy that will never be forgotten: Lenny Bruce's many arrests, Andy Kaufman's (staged) Letterman altercation with Jerry Lawlor, Richard Pryor's bit on why he stopped using the "N"-word, the birth of Joan Rivers' trademark "Can We Talk?", and George Carlin's famous football versus baseball routine all come to mind.
These are historic giants in modern comedy, people who paved the way to an industry that now fuels creative development at Netflix, sends daring amateurs into local clubs for kicks and makes up all the water weight of internet culture.
More than a decade ago, Bill Burr, a cantankerous comic from Massachusetts, came to Camden as part of The Opie and Anthony Show's Traveling Virus Comedy Tour. He was joined by the likes of Tracy Morgan, Bob Saget, Dom Irrera and Patrice O'Neal, among others. In 2006, that's a great lineup by any reasonable standard.
For some reason, it all went horribly south at the old Tweeter Center. The first guy to go on, someone no one remembers out of kindness, got destroyed by the afternoon Philly crowd. Morgan dipped out after about seven minutes. Saget and O'Neal apparently did great, but Irrera got mercilessly booed almost from the jump—and Burr was up next.
We cannot, in good conscience, embed Burr's entire rant here, but here is the YouTube link. The man tore into Philadelphia for 11+ minutes of pure vitriol and hatred, viciously attacking a crowd of 10,000.
"I hope you all f****** die and I hope the Eagles never win the Super Bowl," Burr tamely began.
"Let's talk about heart disease, something you're all gonna f****** die of, and I'm gonna laugh at your f****** funerals," Burr continued.
We pretty much can't print any of the rest of it.
What on earth motivated this tirade? Burr, who's since gone on to produce the animated Netflix hit "F is For Family," recently joined Bert Kreischer Bertcast to explain his behavior on that fateful day.
"I was annoyed," Burr said. "I was just annoyed because I was sitting there going like, this is one of the greatest comedy line-ups, as far as up-and-coming guys, that I've been around. And these f****** people are treating everyone like s***. And, you know, I'm a defensive, f****** angry dude anyways, so it was just the perfect storm."
But more than a decade later, it turns out Burr feels kind of bad about the whole thing.
"I didn't want to do the show at that point, so really, them booing to the level that they did was my fault," Burr said.
"I wasn't a professional. What I should have done was I should have kept my head in the game to survive it. So, I came out and threw gas on a fire that was already going."
Burr has spoken before about Philadelphia's spirit for booing things and admits he has an affection for the city. His only material regret that night in Camden, apparently, was failing to trash the Sixers.
The Eagles and Sixers are looking pretty good these days, Bill. How do you like us now?