I've been putting this one off for a while now. There are several reason for it like; I blew out my knee and I wasn't feeling like writing a review, or I keep looking for new podcasts that I like and end up spending a lot of time going back to old fav's because I'm not liking many lately, but most of all, I didn't want to judge Bill Burr's Monday Morning Podcast too soon or too harshly. Like another review I posted recently, I wanted to like Bill's podcast because I've liked his stand up act. Mostly he's funny. Usually, he's acerbic. And absolutely always, he's a pissy Irish guy from Boston or Philly or some such place with a fuck load of drunk Irish guys picking fights with non Irish types and generally pissing on stuff because somebody else likes it. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind that part of it. The truth is that sometimes I like that, ..sometimes. I'm not Irish (much), but I am pissy most of the time and I like to see others with my affliction just so I don't feel so alone on the planet.
But his podcast is not his stand up and I'm not reviewing stand up.
Bill does his podcast, as the title suggests, Monday morning. Since he's a comic, his weekends are filled with stage appearances around the country doing an act that he admits is filthy and can run towards mean. Most of us know what Monday morning feels like and I assume that it's worse for a guy who works late nights in places filled with drinks, drunks, smoke and assholes. On Monday morning, he's back at home and he does the podcast with every bit of that weekend effecting his mood and demeanor.
The "studio" for his recording is his apartment and I assume that since he occasionally mentions that he's walking around that he's just plugging a wireless head set mic combo into a computer and recording like that. That's as tech as it gets. The sound quality is mostly OK though sometimes the levels are off but this is the wild west in podcast years and though some may have big fancy studios, most have a room, a mic and a computer,... so Bill is right on par.
Bill's show is a one man dialog. Just him, no help, no guests, no regulars, no callers. Sometimes its a rant. Sometimes its a diatribe and sometimes, sadly, it is simply a waste of time. By Bill's own reckoning, some shows are shit and he's fighting internally with whether or not to keep it or erase it and start over. I listened to 5 shows (picked randomly from the list available on iTunes) and in two of those shows Bill tells the listener several times how sucky the show is and how much he wants to start over and how many times he already has. In a third show that he didn't like he kept saying how tired he was and used the shortage of sleep as an excuse for why he thought the show was so bad. Hint: If you want people to like something, don't tell them how bad it is. Tell'em you're on fire and this is the greatest shit since shit started coming in brown tube shapes.
Thing is, though, it wasn't as bad as he kept saying it was, except for the fact that he kept saying it. It wasn't good, but it wasn't the horrendous crapfest that he kept telling me it was. The complaint had that irritating whininess that you sometimes hear from somebody who's good at art saying to anybody who is in the room how they're no good at art and it sucks and they don't really like it and waa waa waa and,... you know what? I don't give a fuck. If you don't like it, don't show anybody. If you show it, accept that it might die on it's own but it could be great. So Bill, if you don't like the podcast, erase it or archive it for later so you can use it for ideas or inspiration or whatever, but really, stop the fucking complaining about how bad the podcast is. Let the listeners judge it on their own. As a listener, I judge that that is the worst part of your podcast.
Most of the other shows I listen to and review are group efforts or buddy shows. Some have guests, some have games, etc. The only other one man show I've listened to enough to review is Mike Schmidt's 40 Year Old Boy podcast. They're a little the same thing but mostly not. Mike's is a stream of consciousness monologue with the kind of hyper enthusiasm that borders on mania and Bill's is a guy talking to a headset while his energy is low on the Monday after a weekend of shows. Mike's is self loathing humor (emphasis on humor) and Bill's is self aggrandizing venting with not much in the way of humor (considering that he's a comic). Mike will tell a story including every single painful detail in tangents and asides while maintaining the through line of the story and I listen intently to every syllable with interest and laughter. Bill tells a bitch fest about another comic that pisses him off for not following the unwritten rules of stand up or some guy carrying a purse (man bag) and getting made fun of by large drunk Irish pricks who might fight at any moment (but don't) and I find it hard to care because the more I listen, the more I think of Bill as a racist, homophobic, misogynist who I would find it difficult to stand and converse with for more than a few minutes without just telling him to fuck off. (for the record, I'm white, straight and married with kids).
In the second half of each podcast, Bill answers viewer email and gives advice. On five shows out of five, the letters were from dicks asking dicky things in dicky ways and Bill's advice was perfectly suited to that audience, that level a maturity and that point of evolution. In real life, I avoid people like this because it's just too hard to keep from saying how disappointing they are as humans. This is the group that Bill appeals to in the podcast. I don't know Bill so this is just a guess based only on listening to 5 recordings of him talking to a mic on Monday morning, but I'd say his demographic is spot on.
Of course, as I said earlier, it isn't all bad, but even the stuff that wasn't bad, wasn't particularly good. That isn't reason enough to listen when there are other choices (even limited choice is choice) available. If you're really into Bill Burr, there's only one Bill Burr podcast on Monday Morning and you can get it at iTunes or Bill's website. However, if you have a standard that includes being genuinely enthusiastic about listening to the show then this probably isn't the weekly feed for you.
Usually, when asked for advice about what to do with a life, a wizened elder says follow your passion. It's why writers write, singers sing and artists art. They're driven to it. They would do it even if they weren't getting paid. Comics are the same way. They need to get up on stage and do that thing called stand up. It's cathartic. It's standing in the glow of love. It's adulation and high wire walking rolled into one. It's a lot of things and different to all, but they all need to do it. I don't think Bill needs to do the podcast in the same way that he needs to do comedy or in the way that the Chris Hardwick (@nerdist) needs to do his Nerdist podcast or @KevinPollak needs to do his chat show. These guys, and others like them, are driven to do it. They need it and even when it isn't going well, they love it, try to save it, fix it, turn it around and make it entertaining. They fight for it and they never tell me how much it sucks. I'm not really sure why Bill does the podcast. I don't think he enjoys it. It doesn't seem like he's having fun or that he really has stuff he needs to say to listeners, issues that need expressing, open wounds that need to be cleaned. In fact, I get the feeling that when he gets up on Monday morning, there's a voice in his brain saying, "Crap. I have to do the fucking podcast again."
So Bill, I'm letting you off the hook. You don't have to do it if you dont' want to. This is America and everybody has the right to not do a podcast if that's how they feel.
My Rating Scale
Was I Entertained? mostly not
Am I likely to listen to the next podcast? no, not really
Will I recommend this podcast to a friend? only if I bump into a person in that demo.