Comedian Bill Burr reflects on success, loss and Netflix series inspired by his childhood

Comedian Bill Burr has been praised as one of the most distinctive comedy voices in the country -- and that's just one of the ways he's expressing himself these days.

Burr is a busy man.

Along with stand-up specials, TV and movie appearances, and his animated Netflix series "F is for Family," he's also the host of a popular podcast. All that while also embracing a new role: fatherhood.

Burr says exactly what's on his mind. With his trademark Boston accent, and casual delivery, he's known as the working-class comedian, reports CBS News correspondent Jamie Wax.

"I think I just say what I'm thinking. And-- you know, if people relate to it they relate to it, but-- I really-- you know, if you really listen to me I don't have my finger on any pulse," Burr said. 

What to binge-watch this weekend

"You're trying to -- to get your finger on a pulse?" Wax asked. 

"No. I'm just trying not to be such a lunatic. Like, I kind of -- you know, I've been working on my anger and I've realized that, you know, say zero is the most chill and then 10 is the worst. I kind of walk around at a six," Burr explained. 

That same intensity can be seen in the character Burr plays in his animated Netflix series "F is for Family," which is loosely based on his own childhood.

Of how autobiographical it is, Burr said, "The tone is -- is right there. But as far as like -- there's certain things. The bathroom scene at a stadium going in they just had the pee trough and how psychologically damaging that was. That happened." 

The cartoon is set in the early 1970s and centers on the middle-aged Frank Murphy who is overwhelmed by life's setbacks. He and his wife Sue, played by Laura Dern, are raising their three children.

Why his series is different from other animated shows with similar themes? 

"Just the tone. You gotta have, like -- your own tone. And I think with us is -- the reality is what makes it different. That's kind of my job in the writer's room. I'm always the guy going like, 'People wouldn't say that there. They wouldn't say that.' Like, I hate when I watch sitcoms and something crazy happens and people just kind of go, 'huh?' and then they just go on," Burr said. "Or they -- like, they'll have some wacky character, 'That reminds me of the time when I had sex with that pig,' and then there's the laugh track. And then they go back to talking. No. That wouldn't happen. Like, they would address it. And that would be the rest of the episode. There's no way you'd blow past that. And I -- and immediately just like, 'Oh, I'm watching a TV show that stinks. That's lazy writing."

Burr's writing and schedule are anything but lazy. In between performing standup and creating "F is for Family," each week the comedian hosts his podcast, "Monday Morning," which averages 1.4 million downloads an episode.  

"I'm just literally at home, you know, in my pajamas just saying whatever the hell's coming to my mind. And singing songs and acting like an idiot. And people listen to it. I'm actually making money," he  said. "Like, I say that to my wife. I'll go, 'Do you understand, like, I'm making enough money off of this thing where I can make a mortgage payment? This is crazy.'"

The couple recently welcomed their first child, a daughter, in January. But Burr doesn't think fatherhood will change his comedy. 

"No. I think some people really change when they become a dad. Like, I've changed in different ways. I -- but, like, my comedy hasn't changed. And I've also seen people do that where you become this, you become a dad and then all of a sudden you're trying to be a role model," Burr said. "A plumber doesn't change the way he plumbs when he has a kid. You're a comedian. This is your style."


A certain style was something Burr admired about the late comedian and his close friend Patrice O'Neal, who died six years ago following a stroke.

"To hang out with him was an experience. And I just remember actually -- as being -- like, it was weird. I was a friend and a fan. He was, like, the same graduating class. Be he also just seemed so much further ahead," Burr said. 

 "It was devastating. I think it finally -- the finality didn't hit me until sometime last year."

Now, for the past five years he has hosted an annual benefit to honor his friend, and help take care of his family.

As Burr continues to build on his own talent, the 48-year-old comedian is grateful for the success he has already achieved.

"Well, it's taken me so long to get here. It just seems like I slowly walked up this hill. And then I'm turning around and then seeing how much of the hill I walked up," he said. "And to this day the fact that, like, these clubs still know who I am -- to be able to -- to come other New York City, walk into a comedy club, and they'll -- they'll let you on stage -- like, the rush of that will -- it really will never go away. I mean, 'cause I remember how difficult it was to get in. And so, you know, 20 years later for them to still put you on is pretty cool."

Season two of "F is for Family" is available on Netflix starting May 30.