Altered States

Legendary Comedian Bill Burr — Fear{less} with Tim Ferriss (#602)

“When people say they want somebody to work clean, it doesn’t just mean ‘Don’t say any bad words.’ It also means ‘Don’t have any opinions that will make people uncomfortable.’”

— Bill Burr

Welcome to another episode of The Tim Ferriss Show, where it is my job to deconstruct world-class performers to tease out the routines, habits, et cetera that you can apply to your own life.

You’ll get plenty of that in this special episode, which features my interview with Bill Burr from my 2017 TV Show Fear{less}. The “less” is in parentheses because the objective is to teach you to fear less, not to be fearless.

Fear{less} features in-depth, long-form conversations with top performers, focusing on how they’ve overcome fears and made hard decisions, embracing discomfort and thinking big.

It was produced by Wild West Productions, and I worked with them to make both the video and audio available to you for free, my dear listeners. You can find the video of this episode on, and eventually you’ll be able to see all episodes for free at

Spearheaded by actor/producer and past podcast guest Vince Vaughn, Wild West Productions has produced a string of hit movies including The Internship, Couples Retreat, Four Christmases, and The Break-Up.

In 2020, Wild West produced the comedy The Opening Act, starring Jimmy O. Yang and Cedric The Entertainer. In addition to Fear{less}, their television credits include Undeniable with Joe Buck, ESPN’s 30 for 30 episode about the ’85 Bears, and the Netflix animated show F is for Family.

Please enjoy!

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, Podcast Addict, Pocket Casts, Stitcher, Castbox, Google Podcasts, Amazon Musicor on your favorite podcast platform. You can watch the interview on YouTube here.

#602: Legendary Comedian Bill Burr — Fear{less} with Tim Ferriss

This episode is brought to you by 5-Bullet Friday, my very own email newsletter that every Friday features five bullet points highlighting cool things I’ve found that week, including apps, books, documentaries, gadgets, albums, articles, TV shows, new hacks or tricks, and—of course—all sorts of weird stuff I’ve dug up from around the world.

It’s free, it’s always going to be free, and you can subscribe now at

What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.


Want to hear another episode with a standup comedian? Have a listen to my conversation with Jerry Seinfeld in which we discussed the book that nudged him toward comedy as a potential career, how to generate and maintain a prolific wellspring of creative ideas, why the word “systemize” is such an important part of his personal operating system, self-rewards and other routines that keep him writing, and much more.

#485: Jerry Seinfeld — A Comedy Legend’s Systems, Routines, and Methods for Success
  • Connect with Bill Burr:

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | YouTube


  • [05:39] 12 magic minutes in Philadelphia
  • [11:39] Bill grew up in Massachusetts, but he lived a Wild West lifestyle.
  • [13:04] How comedy entered the picture and who Bill admired most
  • [15:24] As a kid, what did Bill think he’d be when he grew up?
  • [21:43] Bill’s first time getting on stage
  • [24:49] As a comedian, you never forget the first time you bomb
  • [28:23] Clean Bill Burr vs. Post-Clean Bill Burr
  • [33:39] The comedian’s comedian
  • [35:44] Are Bill’s podcast ads reads — or roasts?
  • [40:10] How Netflix’s F Is for Family came about
  • [47:03] Bill’s idea generation process
  • [50:14] Spotting when young comic talent has “it”
  • [51:37] Dealing with the humorless or otherwise unbearable
  • [54:14] Madison Square Garden
  • [57:33] Bill’s board and parting thoughts


“I think somewhere along the line, I just wanted to have a fun job.”
— Bill Burr

“When I was a kid, just making kids laugh was a way to get people to stop beating the shit out of me.”
— Bill Burr

“When people say they want somebody to work clean, it doesn’t just mean ‘Don’t say any bad words.’ It also means ‘Don’t have any opinions that will make people uncomfortable.’”
— Bill Burr

“How do I apologize without apologizing to the 40 drunk soccer moms who all tweeted at the exact same moment so this became a thing for eight seconds yesterday that I now have to address?”
— Bill Burr

“I don’t get this whole thing where somebody secretly videotapes you at a comedy club and then they upload it on the internet and then you have to now apologize to people who weren’t at the show. It’s like, you weren’t at the show and you decided to watch, so why don’t you get mad at the kid who fucking filmed it? That’s it. I am guilty of being a comedian in a comedy club that tried out a joke that didn’t work.”
— Bill Burr

“I’m self-employed, so I don’t need some chocolate-covered strawberry people to pay my rent. I didn’t put myself in that position.”
— Bill Burr

“I’m just going to be a comedian that sells tickets, hopefully. And if that’s all I am, who gives a shit? I’m telling jokes for a living, I’m killing it.”
— Bill Burr

“Even if you’re not going to be fine, isn’t it better to just exist thinking you’re going to be fine until it’s not fine? And then when it’s not fine, then you can just fucking handle it then. But there’s no sense to ruin right now.”
— Bill Burr


The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 700 million downloads. It has been selected for “Best of Apple Podcasts” three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it’s been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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