Wednesday, August 10, 2016

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Steve Austin Show with Bill Burr

Austin has comedian Bill Burr on his show
Photo Credit:
If you’re new, here’s the rundown. We listen to a handful of wrestling podcasts each week. Too many, probably, though certainly not all of them. In the interest of saving you time — in case you have the restraint to skip certain episodes — the plan is to give the bare bones of a given show and let you decide if it’s worth investing the time to hear the whole thing. There are many wrestling podcasts out there, of course, but this feature largely hews to the regular rotation we feel best fit the category of hit or miss. If we can save other folks some time, we’re happy to do so.

Show: Steve Austin Show — Unleashed!
Episode: 344 (July 21, 2016)
Run Time: 1:15:23
Guest: Bill Burr, part one (15:57)

Summary: Comedian Bill Burr drops in at 316 Gimmick Street to chat with Steve Austin about cars and driving, his college days and love of wrestling. Austin asks Burr about his childhood near Boston and how he got into comedy, which led the guys to discuss the similarities of their chosen professions. Burr also talks about building his sets and marvels at Austin’s approach to working a crowd. Burr also shares stories about opening for bands and failing in Los Angeles the first time as a lead-in to a larger discussion of his career trajectory.

Quote of the week: “The stuff that I related to the most was the dishonest promoters and being in a car with another performer and laughing and joking and having beers afterwards. But obviously the level of physical pain and the shit that you guys went through is way beyond. Our stuff is more like, just, absolute humiliation. … There’s still some times, like, I will think about stuff that happened to me when I was on stage. It always happens when I’m in the shower, I don’t know why, and it’s just some of the, like — I just got so owned by a crowd and had no comeback, and just how embarrassed I was, and there’s always friends in the crowd when it happened. Every once in a while when those memories come up I literally have to, like, shout it out of my brain.”

Why you should listen: It’s not a great shock to learn wrestlers and comics endure a lot of the same things pursuing their careers on the road, but hearing Austin and Burr unpack the similarities is fairly entertaining. I quite enjoy Burr’s comedy, but I appreciate how he came for a legitimate conversation and not to try to work in his bits.

Why you should skip it: Austin kind of built up Burr as a great fan who loved to talk wrestling, and while I have no doubt Burr is a devotee, the conversation doesn’t progress much further than watching WWF syndicated shows in the 1980s and never missing a Monday Night Wars-era RAW. I don’t need Burr to prove his bona fides, but it’s fair to point out the interview is much more about getting to know Burr than anything else, and if that’s not your bag, feel free to move along.

Final thoughts: Some folks are going to be as excited about this interview as I was to hear Austin talk classic cars with Goldberg or Chip Foose (which is to say not very). Overall this was a pretty lengthy chat spread over two episodes, and if you’ve only got time for one I definitely suggest the first half. But in reality, if you don’t care much about Burr, or learning what makes him tick, this probably will feel like a waste of time.

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Show: Steve Austin Show — Unleashed!
Episode: 346 (July 28, 2016)
Run Time: 1:15:23
Guest: Bill Burr, part two (21:00)

Summary: In the second half of their conversation, Burr discusses how he’s determined his worth as a performer, and the guys bond over the challengers of getting over with crowds and battling nerves. Burr explains how he tries to tailor his act such that it appears to trying to appeal to all races and the challenges of being a standup in an era of political correctness. After a break, Burr goes deep on his experience flying helicopters, takes Austin behind the scenes of his animated Netflix show “F is for Family.” That leads into discussion of Burr’s upcoming schedule and how he crafts his material, then the guys share travel gripes.

Quote of the week: “You could literally genetically alter the food and they’re not gonna talk about it, but if you do a wage gap joke in a strip mall, you could literally get on, you know, like, national news if it goes back and forth, and most people, they’re just tuning in to watch because it’s fun to watch somebody get in trouble. But, you know, I still believe people are — they’re adults. They go to a show, they know you’re joking around. You know? And if you make fun of Caitlyn Jenner or you make fun of this, you make fun of that, you know, like, you don’t hate these people, you don’t believe this — it’s a joke. But, it’s one of those deals where you’ll be in front of whatever, a thousand people, 999 had a great time, right? Night after night after night, right? And then one person doesn’t like it, they go on a blog and all of a sudden they act like the sky’s falling. … It’s a complete nonstory.”

Why you should listen: The crowd psychology segment was the undoubted high part, though if you’ve ever wanted to fly a helicopter, Burr’s detailed discussion of his experience is ear candy. With respect to comedy, Burr has a great way of being humble without intentionally trying to self deprecate, and it’s clear whatever success he has is the result of intentional, hard work, but he retains a great perspective on not just his place in the entertainment world but of the rarity of being able to make a living in this fashion. Not only that, but his comfort behind a microphone makes him a natural podcast guest, and sometimes that’s where Austin’s interviews with people who aren’t wrestlers struggle to gain traction.

Why you should skip it: After a decent part one, part two might start to feel like overkill. The deep dives on piloting and developing the animated series especially are love it or leave it material. And while Burr does have decent thoughts on the idea of trying to be a broadly relevant comedian in an era of political correctness, some listeners aren’t going to give his thoughts the depth of consideration they warrant and write him off altogether.

Final thoughts: If you need just a taste of Burr, definitely go with part one only. If that one left you wanting more, you’re not going to be disappointed here, but it’s an awful lot of time commitment for not that much more than background entertainment. I enjoyed it because I like Burr and his demeanor, but at some point you just want Stone Cold to talk more wrestling.