Considering that there are so many unfavorable and unfortunate stories in this list, it seems only appropriate that it begins with a story of triumph rather than the much more prevalent fall from grace.
Enter Bill Burr: truly one of the more popular standup comics out there today. Not only is he respected by his peers, he also has a pretty sizeable following that continues to grow — additionally, he has seen some more-than-moderate success in the acting field (“Breaking Bad,” “The Heat,” “The New Girl,” “Chapelle’s Show”).
However, there was a time when Bill Burr wasn’t the popularized comedian he is today. Back in 2006, he was a humble up-and-comer that had done some television spots but still didn’t have the immediate respect of unruly crowds. During that year, “Opie and Anthony’s Travelling Virus” had just that: the most onerous of audiences at a tour stop in the city of brotherly love.
The crowd was drunk, rowdy and out for blood that night, booing one act after another right off the stage without any semblance of discrimination or fair judgment. Burr, being a native of Boston, knew Philadelphia quite well. He knew the sensitive subjects, he knew what buttons to push and he went up on stage with a plan: Burr berated the audience for his entire set… and he didn’t just make a couple of cheeky wisecracks — he got real detailed and he got real personal. He called them racists, bashed their physical appearance, their history, their sports teams and even mocked Rocky Balboa and the liberty bell for 15 straight minutes, shouting insult after insult over a thunderous roaring of collective boos while refusing to leave the stage until his time was up.
What makes this story particularly interesting is Burr won over the crowd from hell during his tongue-lashing and the deafening boos slowly began to turn into applause — he earned their respect by standing his ground. By the end of his act, Burr received a standing ovation for essentially ridiculing and alienating the crowd. A video of Burr’s rant went viral and while it surely wasn’t the sole catalyst in his success story, it certainly didn’t hurt.
“Why don’t you go down to the docks and unload some shit, you fucking warehouse-working, weed-smoking, disappointments to your mothers!”
Watch Burr’s rant below.