Bill Burr's 'Offensive' and 'Controversial' SNL Opener Was Exactly What Comedy Should Be

Bill Burr on Saturday Night Live, October 10, 2020. Credit: YouTube Screenshot

Bill Burr on Saturday Night Live, October 10, 2020. Credit: YouTube Screenshot

 

Stand-up comics are the people who say what a lot of people are thinking, but who (in normal times) won’t get in trouble for it. Sure, the way they say it might be so exaggerated that some believe it’s controversial or offensive, but there’s at least a little truth in all, great comedy bits.

As my colleague Scott Hounsell covered, comedian Bill Burr’s monologue on this week’s “Saturday Night Live” ruffled a lot of progressive leftist feathers, and it’s not shocking that those most offended were the woke, white women the most popular part of his monologue targeted.

Everything Burr said on the topic was so perfect that I must revisit it here.

“The way white women somehow hijacked the woke movement, generals around the world should be analyzing this….

“The woke movement was supposed to be about people of color not getting opportunities…finally making that happen. And it was about that for about eight seconds. And then somehow, white women swung their Gucci-booted feet over the fence of oppression and stuck themselves at the front of the line.

“I don’t know how they did it. I’ve never heard so much complaining in my life from white women. ‘My life is so hard. My SUV and my heated seats. You have no idea what it’s like to be me.'”

But, it wasn’t just the hijacking of the woke movement that Burr mocked. He called out “you white women” (even calling them bitches) for standing by “toxic white males” for centuries, invoked the Patriarchy™, and more:

“The nerve of you white women…. Listen, I don’t want to speak ill of my bitches here, but let’s go back in history here. You guys stood by us toxic white males through centuries of our crimes against humanity, you rolled around in the blood money, and occasionally when you wanted to sneak off and hook up with a black dude, if you got caught you said it wasn’t consensual. That’s what you did. So why don’t you shut up, sit down next to me, and take your talking-to?”

He is definitely not wrong about any of it, including how frustrated white men are at being blamed for everything that’s supposedly wrong in the world.

Burr also took on mask mandates, cancel culture, and Pride month – basically touching on all of the untouchable themes in 2020 society.

Amazingly, the reactionary pieces from lefty woke media outlets hit the internet about as quickly as the Twitter scolds appeared (more on that later). Many of the media outlets called his bit “divisive” or “controversial,” but The Daily Beast’s headline labeled the monologue a “homophobic rant.” Yes, all of it is a homophobic rant because a quarter of it, or less, focused on Pride month. The Beast’s writer clutched xis pearls over the thought that Burr apparently didn’t know Pride month existed:

The extent of the bit is that he was shocked to learn that the month existed, and that it lasted for the entire month of June, when other more aggrieved minorities aren’t afforded as many days of respect.

Really? Burr is a lefty comic, and the Daily Beast writer thinks he is or was sincerely unaware of Pride month? We cannot escape it. Rainbow logos are everywhere. Here in LA, local TV stations have a little icon in the bottom corner of the screen, throughout the entire month on every newscast, reminding us that it’s Pride month. Are we to believe that Burr never comes to Los Angeles and never watches local TV? Or that, during the month of June for the last decade-plus, he was never in a city where Pride events were occurring?

Oh. Oh. Wait. Maybe, just maybe, his words weren’t the truth but a setup for a joke? (Insert eyeroll here.)

Judging by Twitter (which is usually a very bad thing to judge public opinion by), among Blue Checks and random lefties, Burr did succeed in being divisive and controversial. Tariq Nasheed, with whom I rarely agree, deemed it “real talk.”

I won’t insert a bunch of tweets here, but in my searches on Twitter (tbh, I didn’t do an exhaustive Lexis-Nexis search) the majority of the scolding comments, and particularly the most irritating ones, were from woke white women (WWW). Multiple WWW expressed the sentiment that “There is no real ‘time’ for that Bill Burr monologue, but I’ll tell you what, now is NOT IT.” And there were plenty of comments from black men and black women agreeing with Burr for giving voice to what they’ve noticed and felt about their movement being hijacked.

Other whiny progressives pulled the “ACKSHUALLY” card and attempted to take Burr to task for his middle-of-the-road face mask position, saying, “I’m the weak cousin with asthma, and I don’t want my family to kill me,” as if their family was going to take life advice from a comic on SNL. And if they were…well, I’m sorry you were born into a stupid family.

Given the divided and very passionate comments on Twitter and the obligatory tsk-tsk pieces by the leftist media, I submit that now is exactly the time for Burr’s monologue.

Comedy used to be funny, because comedians weren’t politically correct – and they weren’t expected to be. Sure, many of them were liberals (or whatever we called them back then), but for the most part, they were equal-opportunity offenders. Fortunately, my parents loved comedy, and I remember listening to Bill Cosby records with them (yes, I’m that old), and secretly watching Sam Kinison and Andrew “Dice” Clay specials with the neighbors who had HBO. Looking back at the things they joked about, I doubt any of them would survive 2020-ish scrutiny. But they were funny as hell, and they offended everyone.

As Townhall Media’s resident stand-up comic Stephen Kruiser wrote (back in February 2019, about the movie Blazing Saddles):

When everything is offensive, nothing is offensive. That has a double meaning that applies to both sides here. It is difficult to take the present-day SJWs seriously when they complain, because they complain about virtually everything. What Brooks and Co. did is make sure that they offended everyone, which made it funny.

When everything is offensive, nothing is offensive.

A humorless society that seeks to make words criminally offensive is a society in severe decline. Hopefully, we’re just in a phase from which we’ll soon emerge.

Amen.

Sometimes, comedy, and the way in which a comedian uses exaggeration or melodrama to make a point, is a pathway for audiences to self-reflect just a bit. Burr’s monologue wasn’t just comedy; it was a form of comedy known as satire, which is defined as:

the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.

Did woke white women literally swing their Gucci-booted feet over the fence of oppression? Of course not. The exaggeration gives the listener a mental picture of a Karen doing just that, though, and if one is a WWW with Karen tendencies, the subconscious brain will see that and, knowing that it’s not a flattering comparison, react just the way said WWW with Karen tendencies reacted.

Comedy, like other forms of art, is in the eye of the beholder. Everyone viewed that monologue differently, based on their experiences and identity. To the LGBTQ community, it was all about homophobia. To liberal black men and women, it was about telling the WWW to back the f**k up and stop hogging the spotlight. To WWW, it was about calling the manager to ask who’d authorized Burr to say such terrible things. And, to conservatives of all stripes, it was about cheering that a comedian on SNL had the cajones to poke the Karen bear.

Burr’s monologue gave each beholder – but especially the WWW – the opportunity to look at themselves and think, “Are my actions consistent with who I want to be? Am I really hijacking this movement that I claim to support?” Sure, comedy should make us laugh and give us an opportunity to escape from the drudgery of everyday life – but brilliant comedy/satire also gives us the opportunity to think a little harder for a second, before we laugh again.

A WWW writer at Vanity Fair got it (again, emphasis mine).

“The joke Burr made about white women works because he’d already told us he’s in the top tier when it comes to villains. He’d made it clear that white guys are awful and have oceans of atoning before them. But he also took a minute to remind us white women that we have a habit of hijacking moments that aren’t ours to take, like the woke movement, while willfully ignoring our own mess….

“Damn if Twitter didn’t immediately light up with white women asking for his head.”

The article makes clear that the writer enjoyed the entire show and the entire monologue; her acknowledgement of a moment of introspection didn’t take away from the comic relief the show provided, and she was mature enough to not allow that bit of satire to poison her experience. It’s a lesson more should learn.

Speaking of maturity (sarcasm), this has to be the most critiqued comedy/satire bit since Seth MacFarlane’s “We Saw Your Boobs” Oscar opener.

Regarding Burr’s monologue and MacFarlane’s song, in the famous words of Homer Simpson, “It’s funny because it’s true.”

 

(BONUS CLIP: Seth MacFarlane as Ted and Mark Wahlberg in Ted 2, giving “sad suggestions” at the improv then yelling, “We’re giving you the tools! Make some comedy!” NSFW)