Fire Marshal Bill Burns is one of the most popular fictional characters to emerge from the sketch comedy show In Living Color. He was portrayed by actor Jim Carrey and appeared in 11 sketches. He is the only character to appear consistently throughout all 5 seasons of ILC.

Description[edit | edit source]

The typical execution of the sketch is for Fire Marshall Bill to appear unexpectedly and then show how unsafe ordinary activities are by engaging in off-the-wall, dangerous activities, normally accompanied by his catchphrase, "LEMME SHOW YA SOMETHIN'!" Examples include where he warned against drinking a cocktail on a cruise liner because it would be dangerous if one was holding a vial of hydrochloric acid in their other hand. The climax of the sketch always occurred when he would perform an act involving explosives which would inevitably destroy the set, typically sending people running for their lives as he said another catchphrase, some variation of, "'Don't worry, folks. I am a fire marshal!'" before the expected destruction.

Although almost every sketch sees him maimed or otherwise seriously injured (in more than one sketch, only his head was left), Bill never died and always appeared among those forced out of the destroyed structure. His immortality also lends itself to long life as he apparently performed the same standard of service as a fire marshall on the Titanic as, in his own words, "'Unsinkable' my good eye!"

Bill has a wife named Ashley who appears in the third sketch where the couple is on a cruise vacation. She has a loving relationship with Bill and shares his masochism and taste for unusual demonstrations.

Examples of Fire Marshal Bill's destruction[edit | edit source]

Home Safety[edit | edit source]

  • Spraying lighter fluid on the floor and then dropping a tobacco pipe on it, creating a fire.
  • Mentioning that he's caught fire so many times that he can't feel it anymore.
  • Electrocuting himself by sticking a meat fork into an outlet.
  • Mentioning he's been struck by lightning 19 times.
  • Sticking his hand onto an active stove.
  • Mentioning that he's spontaneously combusted more than once.
  • Lighting a match after sneezing out the pilot light on a stove, burning down a house.
  • Using a can of gasoline and a flint striker to ignite a wood shingle roof.

Classroom Safety[edit | edit source]

  • Setting a fish tank on fire using gasoline.
  • Plugging in a projector while standing barefoot in a tub of water.
  • Stop, drop, and rolling on thumbtacks.
  • Lighting a paper mural which causes the chemistry lab on the other side of the wall to explode, blowing up the school.
  • Roasting a marshmallow using his index finger.

Cruise Vacation[edit | edit source]

  • Using cooking aerosol as tanning oil and a magnifying glass as a tanning mirror.
  • Tossing a lit match at his wife to light her cigarette when she's also covered in cooking oil.
  • Getting attacked by a shark after pouring a bucket of chum on his body.
  • Mentioning that his body has been completely numb since he stopped a lava flow at Mount Pinatubo with his face.
  • Drinking a vial of hydrochloric acid that causes him to throw up fire.
  • Defusing a plastic explosive only to drop it down a chute to the cruise liner's engine room, detonating it and forcing everyone to abandon ship.
  • Filling up a lifeboat with gasoline and then shooting it with a flare gun.

Fire Marshall Santa[edit | edit source]

  • Slamming his hand in a waffle iron.
  • Sticking his foot under a Christmas tree and getting it caught in a bear trap.
  • Plowing a Barbie Power Wheels through a wall.
  • Throwing a live grenade into a fireplace.
  • Replacing a snowman nose with a stick of lit dynamite.

Sports Bar[edit | edit source]

  • Having people throw darts at his face while holding a dartboard.
  • Pouring Gatorade on himself while holding a microphone in his mouth, causing him to blow up into a big-screen TV.
  • Mentioning that he's been electrocuted enough times that he can electrocute someone else just by having them grab him.
  • Chopping off his left thumb with an ax for no reason.
  • Throwing an explosive in a bar during the Super Bowl, blowing the bar up.
  • Blowing up a blimp by lighting its mooring line. A video of the Hindenburg's explosion was shown after.

Space Station Safety[edit | edit source]

  • Mentioning inspecting the Titanic and sinking it.
  • Dipping his hand in liquid nitrogen then smashing it with a hammer.
  • Drinking an alien from a jar and having it burst from his stomach.
  • Mentioning that he's had more parasites living off of him than Eddie Murphy.
  • Shattering a window with a high-pitched note that pulls one of the doctors of the space station into space.
  • Arming the self-destruct sequence, vaporizing the space station.
  • Piloting a space shuttle into the sun.

Rebuilds Los Angeles[edit | edit source]

  • Crashing into a stack of cans with a shopping cart.
  • Mentioning that he's capped an oil fire with his tongue.
  • Shoving and churning his hand through a meat grinder.
  • Pulling his tooth out with pliers for fun.
  • Chucking a cinderblock at a customer after getting hit by a brick, causing a riot.
  • Igniting a molotov cocktail and dropping it onto his foot, blowing up the supermarket.
  • Being shown holding his severed head after the explosion.

Teppanyaki Restaurant Safety[edit | edit source]

  • Sticking his head above a grill and asking the chef to give him a haircut with his cooking knives, probably jokingly.
  • Jabbing a sea urchin in his eye.
  • Burning his face on a skillet.
  • Squeezing a lemon wedge in his eye.
  • Chopping off his fingers while preparing stir-fry.
  • Intoxicating himself from alcohol and detonating a Multi-Megaton 40 dynamite pack strapped to his torso, destroying the restaurant.

At the Hospital[edit | edit source]

  • Doing a self-operation extracting his intestines and a TV remote then stapling himself shut.
  • Sucking laughing gas then shocking his ear and mouth with a defibrillator.
  • Blinding himself with a surgical laser and then amputating his own leg from just below the knee.
  • Injecting himself with nitroglycerin and then passing gas, resulting in an explosion that destroys the hospital.

Magic Show Safety[edit | edit source]

  • Mentioning taking part in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
  • Chopping his hand off with a machete.
  • Igniting a birdcage with a welding torch after spraying gasoline on its cover.
  • Gouging out an eye and then throwing it and his severed hand into the audience to see which is faster (in response to the magician's claim that "the hand is quicker than the eye").
  • Decapitating himself with a chainsaw to perform a magic trick, leaving his torso to wander around with the chainsaw, breaking props and then attacking the building's gas main, which collapses the building.
  • Having Gallagher smash his head like a watermelon.

Honeymoon Hotel[edit | edit source]

  • Slamming his hand in a door on purpose.
  • Drinking boric acid, causing his teeth to launch out of his mouth and latch onto the chin of a bride.
  • Jamming an orange on a vibrating bed's control unit.
  • Bouncing on the bed causing him to be impaled on the chandelier.
  • Inflating a sex doll with hydrogen and igniting it with static electricity, blowing up a hotel.

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • The character is widely known to have been modeled as a caricature of Mr. Rogers. The idea was suggested to Carrey by longtime friend and fellow actor Daniel Lichtblau.
  • "Fire Marshal Bill" is a term used to describe someone who is engaging in very risky behavior, such as a person who smokes a cigarette while pumping gas.
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