One of the things I try to teach students about microphones is that some of their technical specifications are not just numbers or graphs on a paper. They are things that can be translated creatively into the world.
Bill Burr, a well known comedian from the US, has mastered that art for comedic purposes.
For instance, during his Monday Morning Podcast, he has figured out that yelling stuff while facing away from the microphone not only is funny – for reasons I can’t quite put my finger on – but it is also very memorable, to the point of having become one of his iconic traits.
He has a good ear and he’s very music-oriented. It’s no surprise that he plays the drums. Here’s him comically, but clearly, explaining polyrhythms in the song Bleed by Meshuggah.
But let’s go to his live performances. From his Comedy Special, I’m Sorry You Feel That Way (2014), we have the helicopter story, in which his microphone control is pivotal to the storytelling, adding sound effects, EQ, different perspectives, a sense of direction and movement.
Unfortunatelly the original standup version is not available online anymore, where you could see how he was using the microphone, but you can still watch the animated version.
And finally, you have his performance called the Final Solution, where his performance really comes alive by his use of sound effects, music and a low-pass filter using his mouth, which is only possible due to his microphone technique and complete control of sound.
So remember, the next time you open a microphone manual and you see something technical like this…
… you are not just looking at boring graphs and numbers on a page. You’re looking at something that could, perhaps, define your entire career.