A couple months back Bill Burr brought his edgy stand-up comedy to DeVos Performance Hall in Grand Rapids, this month his new half-hour animated series debuts via Netflix.
The half-hour streaming show, F is for Family, is based on Burr’s own childhood and features voice work from Burr, Laura Dern and Justin Long. It follows the Murphy family, a blur-collar household living in the 1970s, “a time when you could smack your kid, smoke inside and bring a gun to the airport.”
The entire six-episode season debuts Friday, Dec. 18. Burr told Revue that F is For Family arose from his autobiographical comedy routines. “The beginning of it was just me telling family stories on stage about me growing up,” said Burr, who created the show along with Simpsons writer/producer Michael Price.
Here’s what else he had to say.
F is For Family is focused on a 1970s family, why did you choose to go back in time on this?
A new generation came along and they were just raised differently. They wore helmets when they rode bicycles, they had play dates. It was much more of a supervised childhood, which I’m not saying is better or worse. But some of my old stories started to get groans from the crowds – people felt bad for me. I’d just think, “Dude, don’t feel bad for me. This is hilarious!” I deserved all of the stuff that happened to me. I was out walking my dog one day and thought, “What if I just animate these stories?” Maybe that’s a way to get it across, because it’s using cartoon people. They’d think, “Oh, it’s just animated people.”
How did it go from bits in your stand up to a full-fledged show on Netflix?
Initially I was just going to do these little five minute videos on my website, then I ended up meeting up with Vince Vaughn’s company, Wild West, and I just threw it out there. They wanted to do a cartoon and four and half years later it’s finally coming out. Once we got Mike Price from The Simpsons on board it just really took off and we really started running downhill with the thing. Mike is just a creative force and the biggest sweetheart I’ve ever met in this business.
How is it working with Netflix? Do they tell you to tone it down?
Netflix has just been awesome. They have been telling us to push it further. I’ve never got notes like that from a network. It’s usually, “Tone it down, tone it down – we have advertisers.” Netflix is free of all of that. I think that’s why they’re taking over the world. They let you do what you want to do.
How did you choose the writers for the show?
How we went with Mike Price, aside from his amazing resume, was he had the same kind of dad, friends and childhood. So when we put together the writer’s room for the show we’d talk to the writers and hear their childhood stories. If they’d tell us, “Well, we went to church every week and had a nice complete breakfast” — we were like, “All right, that person is out.” But if they came in and were like, “Yeah, my brother used to beat me up and throw me down the stairs. There were bullies on my block and we used to steal lumber from the houses being built up the street so we could build trees houses,” then we’d be like, “OK, here we go. I think we got ourselves a writer here.”