Funnily enough, Burr—a charming agitator who has climbed to the top of the stand-up heap on the back of his high-energy, provocative, and coarse comedy—is a perfect counterargument to his own tirade about Millennial “rats.” His latest special, Paper Tiger, released on Netflix last month, opens with a blistering 10-minute rant against every politically correct concept Burr can think of. “Fuckin’ U.S., everything’s so goddamn heavy. Every joke you tell!” he says, mocking the complaints of people who are “triggered” by his material. “I don’t know what the fuck is going on, but I think white women started it,” he pronounces. “I’m really annoyed that white women have the balls to throw my white privilege in my face … You’re sitting in the jacuzzi with me! Quit your fuckin’ whining!”
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He then rags on Michelle Obama’s beloved status as first lady, claims that feminism is “full of shit,” ridicules the “overcorrection” of the #MeToo movement, and challenges the idea that all women should be believed. “What about the psychos?” he jokes. “Everything has become absolutes.” But then he starts heading in different, perhaps unexpected, directions. He makes fun of the belligerent right-wing response to the former NFL player Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling protests in 2016, notes that many self-proclaimed “male feminists” are covering up their own bad behavior, and digs into his own anger problems, which he says he’s worked to overcome since starting a family.
Burr has recorded six stand-up specials and is a fixture on Netflix, where he also created and produces the animated sitcom F Is for Family. Paper Tiger was filmed at London’s Royal Albert Hall, one of the grandest and largest arenas in England. In other words, his career is doing fantastically well, and it’s not simply because Burr has a penchant for outrageous material. It’s because he has the kind of onstage presence most stand-ups can only dream of—as well as the ability to lead the most hostile of crowds down a precarious rhetorical path, and the self-awareness to analyze his own irate and reactionary nature.
Paper Tiger’s centerpiece is a digression in which Burr unpacks an argument he had with his wife (who is black) over Elvis Presley’s legacy of cultural appropriation. Burr describes his wife’s exhaustion with his attempts to defend Elvis, recites her incisive breakdown of why Elvis is worthy of criticism, and then exhales. “Fair enough, you made about seven or eight good points there that you can’t refute,” Burr recalls replying to his wife with a chuckle. His response to her was that anyone who flies in a plane is “appropriating white culture,” an incoherent joke he immediately apologizes for, while still attempting to have the last word. “If, historically speaking, black people enjoyed the same amount of freedom and privilege [as white people], they would have had the money and time to figure out how to fly, too. However … your music would have suffered,” he concludes, flashing a smug grin at the audience.