On Bill Burr’s “Breaking With Bill Burr,” a podcast about sports, politics and pop culture, the main joke has to do with everything politicians do: They keep making deals for votes.
“Mitt Romney is buying his way into the governor’s seat,” he says of the former Republican presidential nominee, who’s running for governor of Utah. “George W. Bush bought his way into the presidency.” And that’s the joke, perfectly and precisely because it plays.
For anyone who doesn’t already listen, the audio program was launched by Burr to provide voice-over insight into sports, politics and pop culture. It’s hosted by Nathan Phillips and can be streamed on Burr’s website, audioamerica.com, and Burr’s podcast page at breakwithbillburr.com.
“The original podcast is a parody of ‘SportsCenter,’” Burr explained in a phone interview. “It’s a cool, intimate experience in a way that’s similar to when I would interview someone in person.”
It started when he was traveling in Europe and a local journalist asked him about going to a UEFA Champions League game. Burr told him he had just read the story in the local paper, which, in turn, brought him to sports news sites. And his point being that you can look at many things in the sport world, from sports cars to Los Angeles Lakers jerseys, but maybe you won’t get the connection to your city in the headlines.
It took him about a year to write and record the show, but after its pilot season (where the station gets involved), the first “Breaking With Bill Burr” episode debuted on Aug. 19, 2014. And since then, it’s been downloaded nearly 3 million times.
Burr says the show started out with an overarching point, which was trying to figure out “how athletes and celebrities are changed by the eyes of people watching and reading about them.” Then he was inspired to tweak things to reflect the nuances he noticed.
“In a lot of ways, I really felt like it was tailor-made for comedy,” he said.
In the time since it debuted, Burr has written and filmed a few films. And he’s also done interviews with current and former sports and entertainment figures, like Colin Kaepernick, Tony Romo, Julian Edelman, Kobe Bryant, Stephen Curry, Pharrell Williams, Kellyanne Conway, A.J. Burnett, Shaquille O’Neal, Russell Wilson, Phil Jackson, Lamar Odom, St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, Justin Bieber, Tom Brady, Barack Obama, Dwayne Wade, Stephen Curry, Paul George, Tom Brady, Nicole Kidman, Kyle Schwarber, John Elway, Richard Sherman, Doc Rivers, Michael Jordan, Kevin Durant, and Jon Stewart.
In it, he likes to ask questions about America’s anxiety and political state, or about what he would do if he ran for president. For example, he asked former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer what he would do about changing Washington’s climate by putting a moratorium on drilling, what he would do to cut taxes, and what he would do about developing renewable energy and addressing climate change. In this way, he hopes the show serves as a sort of foundation for debate in America about so many issues.
“We joke that I’m the Apocalyptic Savior,” he said. “And I think that would be a really nice position for anybody.”
Many of the people he talks to say they listen to the show whenever they want sports news — and he likes that.
“I would like the audience to continue to be the same; whatever their interests, whatever their behavior is, to keep them engaged,” he said. “I think there are things they are absolutely going to hear that are important and hilarious. And that’s the point.”