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Bill Burr’s New Special Is Great But It’s His Fault We Won’t Talk About Why

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For the last few weeks, the Internet has been consumed with discussion about Dave Chappelle’s new stand-up special, “Sticks and Stones,” in which one of America’s high-priests of stand-up openly engaged—or antagonized, if you prefer—a number of minority groups and topics that demand a certain amount of delicacy he had no intention of offering.

The result has been pretty uproarious, with frequent think pieces, review-bombing and counter-bombing, and fierce debates on social media about whether he’s the greatest stand-up ever or a relic of Generation X who needs to go away. I don’t understand the sheer level of heat that “Sticks and Stones” generated. I think it’s a good special, but like his others, its (genuine) brilliance is fitful, and I found plenty of material that was off the mark and offensive even though I don’t belong to any of the groups he discusses.

Or maybe I do. I can’t remember. Criticism and mockery of straight, white, Christian males is so constant that it might as well be the hum of a refrigerator (extremely Maebe Funke voice: PITY ME!). Likewise, I don’t think Chappelle was being honest during his digression about Michael Jackson’s accusers; I think he was just trying to build a bridge to his jokes about Jackson being— you know what, I don’t care to revisit that bit more than I have to.

What I really want to talk about is Bill Burr’s new Netflix special, “Paper Tiger,” which dropped on September 10. In short: it’s a great special; old-school vulgar, consistently funny, and flush with the kind of sub-surface pathos that elevates good stand-up to great. And I’m worried that, largely because of Burr himself, no one is going to talk about it.

Let’s skip the bona fides. Burr is now one of stand-up’s elder statesmen, and is riding a similar wave of “get off my lawn” energy that Chappelle rides in “Sticks and Stones.” The catch, of course, is that he’s........

© The Federalist