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August 22, 2014

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Bill Burr’s latest Las Vegas comedy stop is the Mirage

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Koury Angelo

Bill Burr.

Bill Burr remembers those days 15, 16 years ago when he was a young comic performing at comedy clubs on the Strip.

Not fondly, in every instance. But he does remember.

“I had a horrific run at the Comedy Stop at the Trop, just horrific,” says Burr, who returns to the Strip this weekend as the latest headliner in the Aces of Comedy series at the Mirage (the shows are Friday and Saturday at 10 p.m. at Terry Fator Theater).

“I went from headliner to featured comic. This was during the run. I was just psyched out. I just wasn’t getting the job done.”

Often those audiences at the Comedy Stop were what could be termed as “incidental.” It mattered little who was performing, only that there was some variety of formal entertainment being performed.

“What really happens is, people are just going to a show,” Burr says. “They aren’t there to see you, and it is a very different vibe than when people are going there to see you because they like what you do.”

Burr has bounced from middle, or featured, comic to club headliner to a spot in one of the city’s great comedy series largely because of his artistic range.

Appearances on the “Opie & Anthony” radio show led to voice-over work on the video game “Grand Theft Auto IV.” Standup and voice acting led to film and TV roles, most famously his appearance as Melissa McCarthy’s brother Mark in “The Heat” and his recurring role as Patrick Kuby in “Breaking Bad.”

At the mention of the universally lauded AMC series, I have to confess to Burr that I am among the ever-dissipating demographic who has not seen “Breaking Bad.”

“Hey, there are a few of you,” he says, “and it’s nothing to be embarrassed about.”

Any advice for anyone who is about fire up the series on Netflix?

“Don’t try to take it in all at once,” he says. “Don’t be in a rush to see the whole thing in one sitting. It’s too much.”

Burr says his work on the series “has had a huge effect on my acting work because I have this credibility from working on a show that has such a high quality of acting and writing, it’s impossible to look bad.”

With a 22-year career as a standup, Burr has no plans to leave the road to act full time. I ask for his comedic influences, and they run the range of Richard Pryor to Andrew Dice Clay, Eddie Murphy to Rodney Dangerfield.

“There are so many,” he says. “I was just reminded not long ago that Joan Rivers has had like a 50-year career, and she is still incredibly funny. I would put her in the top six all-time among comics.”

Burr’s act — and entire disposition, really — can be best described as wise-ass comedy. He feels the angst. For verification, check out the bio section of his official website, which lists his starting times at the Mirage as 5:27 and 5:28 p.m. He feels no need to develop and interweave jokes about Las Vegas into his Las Vegas show.

“If I see something worth mentioning that’s funny, I’ll talk about it,” he says. “But I’ll just do my thing.”

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at Twitter.com/JohnnyKats. Also, follow “Kats With the Dish” at Twitter.com/KatsWiththeDish.

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