Mastering the Mic: Amplifying Your Comedy Like Bill Burr

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Mastering the Mic: Amplifying Your Comedy Like Bill Burr

Hello comedy enthusiasts! Let’s talk about how stand-up comedians utilize their most essential tool: the microphone. Sure, it amplifies the voice, but can it do more than that? A legendary comedian, Bill Burr, shows us that it can indeed. This article delves into Burr’s strategic microphone use, which elevates his humor to the next level, creating a comedic experience that is both audible and visual. Here are the key learning points from our exploration of Burr’s 2014 special, “I’m Sorry You Feel That Way.”


  1. Experiment with Mic Positioning: Unlike many comedians who keep the mic at a set position for consistent sound, Burr employs the microphone dynamically, moving it around as he moves and acts things out. He knows inconsistency can amplify the funniness of his performance.
  2. Mic Manipulation = Emotion Manifestation: When Burr wants to appear calm or in control, he maintains control over the mic. When he becomes agitated, he demonstrates this by sliding the mic back and forth or moving it away from his voice, creating a chaotic but hilarious environment.
  3. Leverage Mic for Emphasis: Burr uses the microphone to emphasize specific parts of his jokes. For instance, when impersonating a politician, he slips the mic into the stand to mimic a political podium, giving his act a touch of authenticity.
  4. Utilize the Mic for Visual Comedy: Burr also employs the microphone visually. During a joke about abandoning religion, he uses the microphone to symbolize his religious doubts, literally dropping the mic as if letting go of his belief system.
  5. Exploit Perspective Shifts: In his renowned helicopter joke, Burr switches between two characters’ perspectives – a helicopter pilot and a terminally ill passenger. He uses the mic stand as the helicopter’s control stick, establishing the scene and laying out the physical space inside the imaginary helicopter. He also alters the distance of his voice from the mic to shift perspectives, creating an audio-visual effect that makes the audience feel more immersed in the narrative.
  6. Microphone = Risk and Reward: Burr’s mic techniques involve balancing risk and reward. While these tactics could potentially disrupt the flow of a joke if not executed well, they can also enhance the comedic experience when done right, as Burr often does.

In our online comedy improv and stand-up comedy classes, you can learn more about such techniques and how to use them effectively in your comedy routines. Just like Bill Burr, you too can employ your microphone as a comedic device, rather than merely a voice amplifier.

So remember, whether you’re engaging in stand-up comedy or online comedy improv, the microphone is more than just a tool for voice projection. It can be a prop, a visual aid, and a character in your act, all of which can amplify your comedic skills and leave your audience rolling in the aisles. Happy mic-ing!


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