Critics' reviews for Bill Burr's politically incorrect Netflix special "Paper Tiger" are rolling into review site Rotten Tomatoes, and the comedian is scoring fairly well.
Burr, who tackles the inanity of "cultural appropriation," affluent perpetually-offended white women, male feminists, sexual assault, Michelle Obama, and other taboo topics, landed an 83% rating with critics as a Friday afternoon. The general audience scores have yet to really come in — only eight folks have entered reviews. Still, Burr lands a solid 83% there.
One of the critics, Vulture’s Kathryn VanArendonk, was seriously annoyed by the first four minutes of Mr. Burr's set, likening the comic to a "misbehaving" toddler "grasping for parental boundaries." But, writes VanArendonk, "once Burr moves past that part of the special — once he gets through the sexist throat-clearing and the tick-the-box list of rebellious trollish vocab — the rest of the special is different."
VanArendonk ultimately praises Burr for his "thoughtful, surprising, introspective" set, highlighting commentary he makes about sexual assault that she claims rightly underscores that such misconduct "has nothing to do with sex and everything to do with power."
Paste Magazine's John-Michael Bond scored Burr’s set at an 8.5/10. "Burr is equally the guy who thinks it's funny to tease feminist protestors and the man fighting his own devil to be a good father. He doesn't have to be right, he just has to be funny, and Paper Tiger is a furious work of art," said the critic.
"If you go along for the ride, then you'll still be with Burr when he pivots to make broader points that you may find yourself agreeing with, despite any initial reluctance to do so," said Decider’s Sean L. McCarthy. "That’s his particular set of comedy skills, working once more."
Entertainment.ie's Brian Lloyd praised Burr: "Sweet, tender, and open-hearted, Bill Burr's 'Paper Tiger' isn't always what you'd expect from the comedian, but it's as good as anything he's done in years."
"He excels at reducing benign and thorny topics down to their roots to find a laugh," wrote The Daily Dot’s Eddie Strait, scoring "Paper Tiger" a 3/5.
Fairly so or not, Burr has been compared to comic Dave Chappelle, whose politically incorrect Netflix special "Sticks & Stones" was savaged by critics and adored by the general audience.
Chappelle fiercely went after so-called "cancel culture," abortion, guns, race, the #MeToo movement, Jussie Smollett, Michael Jackson accusers, R. Kelly, Louis C.K., and LGBTQ activism in his special.
Critics were not impressed. For instance, Slate's Inkoo Kang at Slate whined, "Like dropping in on a rascally uncle who doesn't know, or doesn't care, how much he's disappointing you."
While "Uncle Dave" was once cool, she argued, his jokes in 2019 make you "wince."
"The soundness of their logic is as intact as ever, but they’re seldom informed by facts or new perspectives," Kang wrote. "Each visit reminds you that your face is technically capable of laughing and cringing at the same time—but it certainly doesn’t feel good to do so. Despite it all, Uncle Dave insists it’s not that his viewpoints have gotten stale: Everyone's just gotten so much more sensitive."