We Think We Know You

An analysis of Bo Burnham and his performance “what.”

Bo Burnham: what.: The classic battle between the left brain and the right brain


home video footage of Bo Burnham by the pool*

Bo’s Mom: “Bo!”
Bo: What?


♪ Old MacDonald had a farm, e i e i o ♪
♪ And on that farm he had a pig, e i e i o ♪
♪ With a *snort snort* here and a *snort snort* there ♪
♪ Old MacDonald had a farm, e i e i o ♪

*crowd cheers, robotic narrator’s voice begins speaking*

This is Bo Burnham. He’s 22 years old. He’s a male. And he looks like the genetic product of a giraffe having sex with Ellen DeGeneres. He has a gigantic head and tiny nipples. He’s isolated himself over the last five years in pursuit of comedy and, in doing so, has lost touch with reality. You’re an asshole, Bo. You hear me? You think you know better than me. You think you know better than everybody. You will die alone. And you will deserve it. But in the mean time, you might as well tell those silly jokes of yours. See if that helps.

*electronic hip hop beat begins*

Bo jumps up from his stool and runs back and forth on the stage, hyping up the crowd. He wears a gray hoodie and red athletic pants. He begins lip-syncing to a pre-recorded track.

♪ You used to do comedy ♪
♪ When you felt like being funny ♪
♪ But now you’re contractually obligated ♪
♪ So dance you fucking monkey! ♪

♪ Welcome to the show ♪
♪ This is Bo ♪
♪ This is his show ♪
♪ And Bo wants to dance like this ♪


♪ Welcome to the show ♪
♪ This is Bo ♪
♪ This is his show ♪
♪ And Bo takes off his pants like this ♪

*rips off pants to reveal another identical pair of pants*

♪ Play an invisible drum ♪ *plays air drum*
♪ Play an invisible trumpet, trumpet sound! ♪ *plays air trumpet*
♪ Drink some invisible water ♪ *goes through the motions of drinking water*
♪ Oh shit, that water’s real! ♪ *spits out water he’s been holding in his mouth since the beginning*
♪ Bo wants to make you feel comfortable ♪
♪ Bo wants to make you feel comfortable ♪
♪ Random voice! ♪
♪ Bo wants to make you feel comfortable ♪
♪ So sit back, relax, and enjoy a healthy dose of ♪
♪ Prolonged eye contact (15x) ♪

*acts like he’s done, turns away from audience*
*turns back around, music starts again*

♪ Prolonged eye contact (6x) ♪

*Bo puts his hand on his crotch, mouths “You want some of this?” to the woman in the spotlight that he’s having his prolonged eye contact with*

♪ Lick your lips to make it more comforting ♪

*licks lips to the beat of the music*

♪ Do you want to see a magic trick? ♪
♪ Do you want to see a magic trick? ♪
♪ Do you want to see a magic trick? ♪
♪ Then pick a card, any card ♪
♪ SIKE! ♪

*throws down deck of cards*

♪ Magic isn’t real you idiot, read a book ♪
♪ Magic isn’t real you idiot, read a book ♪
♪ Magic isn’t real you idiot, read a book ♪
♪ Magic isn’t real ♪
♪ Or is it? ♪

*dream sequence music starts playing, Bo begins speaking on the track*

And at that moment, Bo’s twenty-year-old cynicism melted into childlike wonder. He never knew there could be so much magic in the world. It’s a world of possibilities, Bo. What do you want to do first?

*Bo crosses stage*

Run? Yeah, sure, you can run.

*makes flying motions*

Fly? Oh, yeah, you can fly.

*Bo pinches his own nipples, puts his hands on his crotch, tries to fit entire hand into mouth*

What? What are you — What the fuck are you do — What the fuck are you doing? Stop. Stop it. What the f — You fucking idiot. Stop, stop, stop. Anyways, in the distance, Bo saw a beautiful fairy, a fairy so beautiful that he felt proud about being called one in high school. He then came across an old bridge with a troll standing guard. Bo knew that he’d have to answer a riddle to get by. The troll spoke thus: “All right, for the last time, man, I’m not a troll. I’m homeless. Okay, do you have any spare change?”

*Bo motions giving the man spare change*

Homeless man: “Okay, that’s a used napkin.”

*Bo begins unbuttoning his pants*

Homeless man continues: “I don’t want that. No, no, stop. Just — you know what? Leave. Just leave. Please leave.”

*Bo rebuttons his pants, mouths an apology*
*Narrator Bo begins again*

And then… as Bo arrived on the other side of the stage, he saw a unicorn with five horns right in front of him. And the pentacorn spoke thus: “Hello, Bo!”

*Bo waves*

Pentacorn continues: “I’ve been looking for you for quite a long — “

*Bo pulls out a finger gun and begins to unload on the Pentacorn*

Narrator begins again: “He was safe, for now.”

*Bo mouths “fuck you” to the dead pentacorn*

But the dark thoughts would soon return.

Random voice on track: “IT’S GODZILLA!!!”

*Bo pantomimes a T-rex, stomping across the stage, screaming and an animal shrieking can be heard on the track*
*begins singing*

♪ It’s so hard to be a lizard, ♪
♪ It’s hard to be a lizard ♪
♪ Tiny arms, itchy gizzard ♪

Scared citizen: Why is he singing? He’s a monster.

*Bo singing again*

♪ It’s hard to be a lizard ♪
♪ But it’s harder to segue ♪

*different music begins playing, Bo begins to pantomime skiing*

♪ Is he skiing? ♪
♪ Or is he in a gay porn? ♪
♪ Is he skiing? ♪
♪ Or is he in a gay porn? ♪
♪ Is he skiing? ♪
♪ Or is he in a gay porn? ♪
♪ Here’s a hint ♪

*Bo spits in his hand*

♪ He’s in a gay porn ♪

*Narrator Bo continues*

♪ Okay, Bo, this miming shit is getting pretty annoying ♪
♪ So give them the real thing ♪

*Bo begins actually singing into a heavily autotuned microphone*

♪ My voice is so fucking natural ♪
♪ It’s naturally good ♪

*Autotune gets cut off, Bo’s voice cracks*


*taps microphone until autotune comes back on*

♪ Naturally good ♪

♪ This is the end of the song ♪
♪ And the beginning of the show ♪
♪ Welcome to the show! ♪

*music ends, crowd cheers*

Bo gathers his stool and mic stand and goes to the front of the stage.

Bo: That lizard part was pretty fucking stupid. Anyway… San Francisco. Yeah yeah. *crowd cheers* We are a place. We are a place in California.
I’d like to uh — I’d like to start with a joke for my male audience. This is a joke for the fellas. Where my fellas at? *flamboyant voice* Fellas?!

*men cheer*

Yo fellas, don’t you hate it when you’re blowing a guy and he ends up being a faggot? Am I right?!

*crowd laughs*

I’ve been blowing a faggot this whole time?! Third time this week. Thank you so much.
We’re having fun.
This show is called what.

*takes a sip from a bottle of water*

And I hope there’s some surprises for you or some –

*bottle of water falls from the stool*

Jesus. Sorry.

*Bo goes to pick up the bottle of water*

That’s a good start. I hope there’s some –

*music starts, Bo starts dancing*

♪ He meant to knock the water over ♪
♪ Yeah, yeah, yeah ♪
♪ But you all thought it was an accident ♪
♪ But he meant to knock the water over ♪
♪ Yeah, yeah, yeah ♪
♪ Art is alive ♪
*devil voice* ♪ NOTHING IS REAL ♪

*music stops*

So um, we –

*crowd applauds*

Grow up. Grow up with your applause. Stick it!

*music starts again*

♪ He meant to knock the water over ♪
♪ Yeah, yeah, yeah ♪
♪ But you all thought it was a — ♪

*Bo looks uncomfortable, makes a signal to the sound tech crew to stop the music*

Bo: Just don’t — if it’s on repeat, it will repeat. We can cut all this.

*music starts back, Bo starts dancing again*

♪ He meant to play the track again ♪
♪ Yeah, yeah, yeah ♪
♪ But you all thought it was an accident ♪
♪ But he meant to play the water track again-gain-gain ♪
♪ Art’s still alive, nothing’s still real ♪

*music stops*

Food jokes. Let’s do some food jokes.
Segues are weird.

*Bo laughs*

I had a hot dog for breakfast today, and afterwards I felt like this…

*picks up stool, pushes it against an invisible wall on both sides of the stage*

…cause I couldn’t control my stools!

*crowd laughs*

Alright, Jesus. Glad you like poop-based puns, that’ll be a majority of the show.

*backs away from the mic towards a keyboard in the back, doing a dance*
*projects own voice*


*goes to mic at the keyboard*

See? So just a little lesson for comedians.

This first song is called A World on Fire.

*becomes very serious as he prepares to play*

*plays a short bunch of random dark notes while screaming and looking extremely panicked*

*as soon as he stops playing* This next song, it’s a little bit longer than that one, and um — *crowd cheers* Thank you.
It’s about how sad I am, and I’m really sad. And it’s called Sad.

*begins playing a — you guessed it — sad tune on the keyboard*

It’s about all the sad stuff. Just picture a depressed onion cutting itself.

*whimpers, then begins singing*

♪ I met a homeless man named Rich, ♪
♪ Isn’t that terrible? ♪
♪ I saw a flyer for a lost dog, and the dog didn’t have any legs ♪
♪ I saw a diabetic kid, trick-or-treating ♪
♪ I saw a giraffe who had a short neck, that was sad, or a deer ♪

♪ I saw an old man get hit by a train ♪
♪ He didn’t see it in the pouring rain ♪
♪ He didn’t hear me shout, “Look out for the train!” ♪

*pauses, stops playing*

Cause I didn’t say anything.

*music continues, still talking*

I just thought to myself,
“Ooh, this is gonna be sad.”
And it was.
I’m a genius.

♪ I saw a man with only one eye, in a 3D movie ♪
♪ I saw a little boy drop his ice cream cone, directly on his mother’s corpse ♪
♪ I saw a kitten stuck in a tree, then the kitten jumped off and he hung itself ♪
♪ I saw a boy who had red hair ♪

*doesn’t finish second half of the line and continues playing music*

♪ I went to a store looking for something to buy ♪
♪ But they only sold paintings of the same sad guy ♪
♪ No, wait! ♪
♪ This store sells mirrors! ♪
♪ See what I did there?! ♪

*talking while playing*

The world’s so sad, bros. Pain, genocide, war, sexism, racism. But I gotta remember there’s good things about it too… Like the fact that none of that’s happening to me!!! SCORE! Still though, it’s hard not to be sad about it. How do y’all do it? I’ve been telling you guys terribly sad things this whole song. You haven’t been sad at all. You’ve been — you’ve been happy. No, you’ve been laughing. That’s it! Laughter — it’s the key to everything. It’s the way to solve all the sadness in the world! I mean, not for the people who are actually sad, but the people like us that gotta fucking deal with ‘em all the time. Being a comedian isn’t being an insensitive prick, capitalizing on the most animalistic impulses of the public.

*crosses eyes goofily*

It’s being a hero.
The world isn’t sad. The world’s funny! I’m a sociopath!

*begins singing again*

♪ I saw an old man slip and fall, ♪
♪ Hey, what a fucking idiot ♪
♪ I saw a woman at her daughter’s funeral ♪
♪ Ha ha ha. Classic comedy. ♪
♪ Everything that once was sad, ♪
♪ Is somehow funny now ♪
♪ The Holocaust and 9/11 ♪
♪ That shit’s funny 24/7 ♪
♪ ‘cause tragedy will be exclusively joked about ♪
♪ because my empathy is bumming me out ♪
♪ Goodbye, sadness! ♪
♪ Hello, jokes. ♪

*music ends*

Thank you.

*crowd applauds*
*Bo goes back to front of the stage and grabs mic*

I got a really good joke about video editors. Video editors are so fucking –

*video has a jump edit to the next joke because ~comedy~*

I think we should do a poem right now, if that’s okay. This poem is a little bit sappy, a little bit romantic. So we’ll get it out of the way now. And we will go back to the — whoops — the dirty stuff, you know, everyone loves at a late show or whatever.


It’s called I Fuck Sluts.

*crowd laughs*

It’s not a roll call, but thank you.

*begins poem*

Sluts, sluts — *pauses because he laughs at himself*
Sluts, sluts, I fuck sluts.
Sluts get fucked when I fuck sluts.
No ifs, ands, and/or buts.
I fuck sluts. I fuck sluts.
Nice girls are nice but no good for nut-sucking.
They’ll need a serene night to green-light a butt-fucking.
But that’d be easy with sleazy old slut fucking.
Boo to the nice girls!
Praise be to slut-fucking!
I have a list.
A list?
Yes, a list of all the sluts I’ve missed.
I’ve never fucked or sucked these sluts, and thus my nuts are fucking pissed.
So when I fuck the lucky slut, my nut removes her from the list.
Another dumb cumbucket struck from my nut-sucking, suck it, slut, slut-fucking bucket list.

*turns pages*
*crowd applauds*

Bo talks: Yes, you hear the influences — Chaucer, Keats.


The pages are blank. I know it.

*shows the crowd the book that he’s reading from, which is, in fact, blank*

Why am I lying to you?

*places open book on head*
*begins poem again*

Sluts can be white, black, brown, pink, or almond.
They can be skinny with big tits or be skinny with small ones.
Sluts can be perky, preppy, or posh, with their brains and their clothes all shrunk from the wash.

*grabs book off head* Excuse me.
*turns page in book, places it back on top of head*

But other sluts are pretty and funny and smart.
These sluts can lift all your thoughts from your dick to your heart.
They can talk about science, music, or art.
They can put you together, or they can pull you apart.

But don’t trust these sluts. Don’t. Don’t you dare.
They’ll force you to trust them and love them and care.
And then they’ll be gone, and then you’ll be aware
Of that hole in your heart that that dumb slut left there.
Thank you very much.

*crowd applauds*

Speaking in the voice of the audience: “So he was lashing out with sexist language ‘cause he had his heart broken. We all learned something.”

Thank you all for coming.

I know some of my bits are a little bit fast and dense, a little bit hard to follow, particularly that one. So I want to do something a little bit slower for the people, maybe the older people in the crowd or something, so this is for you.

Here’s a slow joke.

*voice and movements slow down, voice is deep*

What did the ear of corn say when all of its clothes fell off?
“Aw, shucks!”
Get it?
Like shucks, as in shucking corn, and also “shucks” the exclamation.
Am I right?

*voice goes back to normal pace*

Good, we’re having fun.

My father recently told me that I act too flamboyant on stage. And I said, “Really, Dad? Prove it.” *throws up a handful of confetti into the air*

He said, “what about that joke where you throw confetti at the end of it?”

I said, “I haven’t written that joke yet, ‘cause it’s based off this conversation. Gotcha!”

*tries to put mic back on mic stand, struggles*

Keep it. Keep the struggle.

*goes back towards the keyboard and sits down*

We’re having a lot of fun, guys. Don’t worry about — you don’t have to fill the silences with laughter or applause. I don’t want you leaving this show thinking, “My hands hurt from clapping. My stomach hurts from laughing.” I just want you leaving this show thinking, “All right.” *makes indifferent face*

And we’re on our way.

I moved to Hollywood recently from Boston, where I grew up, and — *crowd cheers* — PLACES!

And I — *laughs* — I heard about these sort of wild Hollywood party nights that people would have, and I didn’t think they were true until I moved to Hollywood and I started having them. Anyway, this is a song about a crazy night that happened a couple weeks ago. It’s called What Did I Do Last Night?

*techno dance music begins playing*

♪ Yeah yeah. Hey hey hey. ♪
♪ What did I do last night? ♪

*musical break*

♪ I cried myself to sleep! ♪

*music stops, crowd cheers*

It was a good one.


When did my mother first describe gay sex to me? Good question. I was eight years old. *pauses for laughter* I was eight years old. She brought me into the dining room. She sat right across the table from me. She said, “Do you know how your father and I love each other?” I said, “Of course. You and Dad love each other more than two people in the world could possibly love each other.” She said, “Well, two men can love each other in the exact same way that your father and I love each other.” She said, “What happens when two men love each other like that, what they do is they take off all their clothes, um, they get into bed, AND THEY SHIT ON THE BIBLE!”

*pauses for laughter*

So I don’t talk to her anymore. Okay.

*dialing up sound can be heard in the background*

Robotic voice: Hello, patient 24602.
Bo: Hi. I’m sorry.
Voice: How are you feeling?
Bo: Not great.
Voice: Has the treatment been working?
Bo: No, it hasn’t been.
Voice: What are your remaining symptoms?
Bo: I just — I internalize my feelings. I just — I have trouble artic- Like, other people and relating to them is just hard.
Voice: So basically you’re still a little bitch.
Bo: Real mature of you, disembodied voice up there.
Voice: I was just joking, nigger.
Bo: We are right by Oakland. Careful with that shit.
Voice: I’m not human. I can say whatever I want.
Bo: All right, just get to the — What’s wrong with me? What is wrong with me, please?
Voice: Your emotions and your logic are at war.
Bo: Okay.
Voice: Your creativity and your analysis are at war. And most simply your left and right brain are at war.
Bo: My left and my right?
Voice: To fix the problem, we must separate them from each other.
Bo: Separ –
Voice: Splitting your neurological functions in five, four, three…
Bo: Let’s just — will you book an appointment? You don’t just start counting down.
Voice: One. This may hurt a bit.
Bo: I don’t even know what it is.
Voice: Zero.
Bo: Just –

*dramatic music, whirring in background, Bo falls to his knees and grabs his head*

Voice: Isolation complete.

*serene electronic music playing*

*Bo is shown in a blue light and is extremely pensive and closed off to the crowd*

Voice: This is Bo’s left brain: objective, logical, cold, analytical, aware of patterns, aware of trends. He’s efficient, and a prick.

*Bo is shown in a red light and is extremely joyful, happy music playing in background*

Voice: This is Bo’s right brain: subjective, creative, sensory, aware of feelings, aware of people. He’s emotional…
Right Brain Bo: Yes.
Voice: … and an idiot.
RBB: That’s your opinion, so just — careful with opinions.
Voice: Okay boys, play nice.

Left Brain Bo sings: ♪ I am the left brain, I am the left brain ♪
♪ I work really hard till my inevitable death brain ♪
♪ You got a job to do, you better do it right ♪
♪ And the right way is with the left brain’s might ♪

RBB: ♪ I like Oreos and pussy!! ♪
♪ Yeah, okay! ♪
♪ And I cried for at least an hour ♪
♪ After watching Toy Story 3 *whimpers*
♪ I am the right brain ♪
♪ I have feelings ♪
♪ I’m a little all over the place ♪
♪ But I’m lustful, trustful ♪
♪ And I’m looking for somebody to love ♪
♪ And put my penis in! ♪

LBB: ♪ Here comes a female, here comes a female ♪
♪ Puff your chest out, take your phone and check your email ♪
♪ Our evolutionary purpose is repopulate ♪
♪ So gather data now and see if she’s a possible mate ♪

RBB: ♪ Holy fuck, I think she might be the one! ♪
♪ There’s something about her ♪
♪ I just can’t describe it! ♪

LBB: Tits.

RBB: ♪ I am the Earth, she’s the glorious sun ♪
♪ I want her to trust me ♪
♪ And I just want her to sit on my face. Sit! ♪

LBB: ♪ All right now, right brain, you’re being insane ♪

RBB: ♪ No, left brain, I’m just being alive ♪
♪ You should try it, you might like it ♪

LBB: ♪ I worked hard to give him everything he cared about ♪
♪ You were worried about the things that he was scared about ♪
♪ I’m calm and collected when you act wild ♪
♪ I am the adult, you are the child ♪

RBB: ♪ You think you’re the right one every time ♪
♪ You think you know everything, you don’t know anything at all ♪
♪ Half of his problems were supposed to be mine ♪
♪ But you wanted everything ♪
♪ I hope that you’re happy, ‘cause he’s sure not ♪

LBB talks: Well, according to my calculations, you’re a pussy.

RBB: Name calling, really? We’re gonna do name calling?

LBB: I’m not calling names, all right? I’m just stating facts. And the fact is, you’re a quivering pussy.

RBB: I’m the pussy? Well, at least I don’t play with toys still.

LBB: Okay, Rubik’s Cubes are not toys. They keep my spatial reasoning skills sharp.

RBB: Left brain plays with toys!!! Look at you, Johnny fucking toy-player.

LBB: Well, at least I did my fucking job. I kept him working. I kept him productive. You were supposed to look after him. You were supposed to keep him emotionally stable through all this. Now you’re trying to blame me for how he’s feeling. How he’s feeling. If he’s feeling unhappy, it’s because you failed him. You did this to him. He hates you. I know he does. He fucking hates you!

RBB: *sobs, melancholy piano music begins playing*

LBB: Right Brain, look, I’m sorry.

RBB: No, you’re not. *continues to sob*

LBB: *looks around the stage, wonders what to do, starts singing*
♪ Look, maybe there’s something we could do together ♪

RBB: Together?

LBB: ♪ Take the best parts of both of us, put them together ♪

RBB: I’m listening.

LBB: ♪ It would let you let your feelings out ♪
♪ It would let me analyze ♪
♪ So you could man the themes, I’ll man the form ♪
♪ It’s something that George Carlin did ♪
♪ It’s something that Steve Martin did ♪
♪ It’s something special that we could both perform ♪

Do you know what it is?

RBB: Juggling?! We could juggle and juggle our cares away!

LBB: *looks dumbfounded, pinches the bridge of his nose* It was comedy. We could do comedy together.

Robotic voice: Initiate reassembly.

LBB: All right, all right, Right Brain, we’re gonna do comedy together, all right?

RBB: All right, all right, Left Brain, I’ll do comedy with you.

LBB: Look, we can fix him like this. We can make him happy again, I promise.

RBB: Left Brain, Left Brain, I love you.

Robotic voice: Three, two…

LBB: I know.

Voice: One.

*stage goes black*

Experimentation complete.

*lights come back on*

Bo: Thank you very much.

*cheers and applause*
*Bo sits down at the piano*

At this point in the show, I’d like to talk about how deep I am.

*begins playing a slow song on the piano*

And I’m pretty fucking deep, deep, deep, deep. *backs away from mic for an echo effect*

So deep…

…that I called this song…


*begins singing*

♪ Have you ever stopped to watch a bluebird drop from a tree and take to the air? ♪
♪ Me neither ♪


♪ Have you ever took time out to finish a rhyme, but the right words just weren’t there? ♪
♪ Meat cleaver ♪

*more laughter*

♪ The people in my life are like grains of sand ♪
♪ ‘Cause they stick together ♪
♪ Often near my butthole ♪
♪ If life is an ocean, I am a deep and handsome fish ♪

*sucks cheeks together to make fishy face*

♪ A fish that’s drowning ♪
♪ If the artistic process is a birth canal, ♪
♪ Then I am a freshly jellied kid ♪
♪ Come witness my crowning ♪
♪ These thoughts of mine ♪
♪ Must be a sign that I’m ♪


♪ #deep ♪

*continues playing, starts talking*

If Jesus can walk on water, can He swim on land?

*begins singing again*

♪ Have you ever accidentally peed on the toilet seat? ♪
♪ Instead of on your girlfriend’s face? ♪
♪ Me neither ♪


♪ Have you ever wrote a song note for note ♪
♪ And not a single note was out of place? ♪


*messes up the song on the piano*

Hold on.

♪ The people in my life are like blades of grass ♪
♪ How? ‘Cause they’re all so grounded ♪
♪ But at least grass stays away from my BUTTHOLE ♪
♪ Art is a harlot, and I am her sassy urban friend ♪
♪ Oh, bitch, why you being so selfish? ♪
♪ If Mama is right and the world is my oyster ♪
♪ Then I must have an allergy to shellfish ♪

♪ You don’t know ♪
♪ How could you know? ♪
♪ If life makes you wish you were dead ♪
♪ Just put on a good movie, then promptly put a bullet in your head ♪
♪ Spend forever asleep ♪
♪ ‘Cause life pales in comparison to living the dream ♪
♪ #deep ♪

*ends song*

Thank you.

*cheers and applause*

*Cute, happy music begins playing. Bo gets up from the piano and walks around the stage, grabbing a stool on his way towards the front of the stage. He places the stool down, dusting off the seat before sitting down. He pantomimes typing on a computer, and navigating with a mouse, squinting in focus. He seems happy with something he’s discovered on the computer, and promptly begins acting out undoing his belt and pulling down his pants. He pantomimes squirting from an invisible bottle of lotion on the desk and begins aggressively masturbating to a happy techno beat, switching hands as the beat changes. This continues for about 30 seconds until he “finishes,” making a disgusted face and then looking at his hands in awe. He then mouths an “I’m sorry” to the audience. He walks to the side of the stage where he begins to act out washing his hands. Every act he does goes according to the beat of the sad music.*

*music promptly stops*

Don’t you hate it when that happens? Yeah.

*crowd laughs*

Thank you. That’s called Beating Off in “A” Minor.
Yes, yes.


“A” minor, the key, not the felony.

*crowd laughs*

Um, so… I believe *chuckles* I believe there’s nothing more manly one can do than take a shower with five other guys. It’s true. It’s early cavemen, Cro-Magnon, wandering through the fog, you know, scrubbing five other sapiens. No homo.

*crowd laughs*

Bo: *stutters* Um, we should — oh. I’d like to do uh, a little uh, do some um, p-poems right now, if that’s okay. We’re in this point of the show. Um, these poems are actually from — I’m releasing this special for free. So I’m gonna plug my poetry book. These are my new poems from my poetry book called Egghead that will be out by the time this is airing, but not by the time you guys are seated here right now, so… But it’s good. They’re pretty serious. And it’s all just sort of — this is sort of the lull of the show usually, so I’d like to, at this point, sort of take the pressure off the audience, and just read some poems. And then we’ll go back to the giggles.

*While Bo was talking, he has obtained his poetry book and a set of chimes. He sits on the stool with the mic stand in front of him.*

So, this is a poem by a dog.

“Roses are gray.
Violets are a different shade of gray.
Let’s go chase cars.”

*runs fingers along chimes, crowd laughs*

“Me, with my strange choice of adjectives.
You, with your muscular teeth and clockwise vagina.”

*rings chimes*

“I put a chameleon on a red dildo.”

*Bo giggles and pauses*

“He blushed.”

There we go. *rings chimes*

This is a poem about beauty, about self-image, and about the ability to transform.

“Martha was ugly, like a shaven baboon, so she wrapped herself up in a curtain cocoon.
And after a week, she finally emerged.
She smelled like shit. What a psycho.”

*rings chimes*

“You’re incomparable, like a…”

*long pause, after which Bo rings the chimes amid laughter from the audience*

“I want to beat you to death with a blunt object.
I want to grab one of those high-end fashion mannequins by the ankles and bash your rib cage in.
I want to sharpen 50 pencils, bind them with a rubber band, stick the lead in your mouth, and punch the erasers.
I want to strap you to a bed of nails, then strap that bed of nails to the hood of my car so I can watch you suffer as we drive over speed bumps in a mall parking lot during an earthquake.
I want you to somehow survive a terrible car crash, then somehow not survive a small fender bender on the way back from the hospital.”

*rings chimes*

Thank you. That’s called Dad.

*crowd laughs*

This is a poem. It’s really a story that’s meant primarily for children, but I think it’s got a lesson we could all learn.

*looks at the crowd knowingly and in disgust*

“The squares lived happily in their square houses, in their square yard, in their square town.
But then one day, a family of circles moved in from the West.


‘Get out of here, roundies!’ shouted one of the squares.
‘Why?’ said one of the circles.
“‘Cause this is a metaphor for racism.”

*rings chimes*

“When I walk into a party, you’d think I was one of those long, straight Tetris pieces, ‘cause everyone’s just like, ‘Oh, yeah, this guy’s here. Finally! We’ve been waiting for him to show up.’”

*rings chimes*

Like, you wait in the game — Forget it.

*crowd laughs*

NO. You had your chance.

*Bo laughs*

“If I had a million dollars, I’d pay your mother to have sex with me. Afterwards, I’d probably invest the remaining $999,990.”

*rings chimes*

$10 for sex with your mother! COMEDY!

*crowd laughs*

I smell comedy.

Well, it was comedy giving off that scent.


And finally.

“Mid-October, with leaves spilled like colored-pencil shavings, the streets dicing our town into neat, unfair portions. And me, *puts on a smooth voice* eating that pussy, baby.

*rings chimes*

Thank you so much.

*crowd cheers*

*Lights dim, Bo goes back towards the piano at the back of the stage and sits down on the bench.*

Um, there’s things that I don’t want to come across in my show that I worry often come across about me, ‘cause people don’t realize that it’s an act up here. I don’t want you to ever think that I think I’m better than people or that I think I know better than people. Anyway, sorry. Okay.

Uh, this is a song from the perspective of God.

*crowd laughs, Bo begins playing piano*

♪ The books you think I wrote are way too thick ♪
♪ Who needs a thousand metaphors ♪
♪ To figure out you shouldn’t be a dick? ♪
♪ And I don’t watch you when you sleep ♪
♪ Surprisingly, I don’t use my omnipotence ♪
♪ To be a fucking creep ♪
♪ You’re not going to heaven ♪

♪ Why the fuck would you think I’d ever kick it with you? ♪
♪ None of you are going to heaven ♪
♪ There’s a trillion aliens cooler than you ♪

♪ You shouldn’t abstain from rape ♪
♪ Just ‘cause you think that I want you to ♪
♪ You shouldn’t rape ‘cause rape is a fucked up thing to do ♪

*speaks* Pretty obvious — just don’t fucking rape people.
Didn’t think I had to write that one down for you.

♪ I don’t think masturbation is obscene ♪
♪ It’s absolutely natural ♪
♪ And the weirdest fucking thing I’ve ever seen ♪
♪ You make my job a living hell ♪
♪ I sent gays to fix overpopulation ♪
♪ Boy, did that go well ♪
♪ You’re not going to heaven ♪
♪ Eat a thousand crackers, sing a million hymns ♪
♪ None of you are going to heaven ♪
♪ You’re not my children ♪
♪ You’re a bad game of Sim ♪

♪ You shouldn’t abstain from pork ♪
♪ Just ‘cause you think that I want you to ♪
♪ You can eat pork ♪
♪ ‘Cause why the fuck would I give a shit? ♪

*crowd laughs*

*speaks* I created the universe. Think I’m drawing the line at the fucking deli aisle?

*crowd laughs*

♪ You argue, and you bicker, and you fight ♪
♪ Athiests and Catholics, Jews and Hindus ♪
♪ Argue day and night ♪
♪ Over what they think is true ♪
♪ But no one entertains the thought ♪
♪ That maybe God does not believe in you ♪
♪ You pray so badly for heaven ♪
♪ Knowing any day might be the day that you die ♪
♪ But maybe life on Earth could be heaven ♪
♪ Doesn’t just the thought of it make it worth a try? ♪

*tempo becomes more upbeat*

♪ My love’s the type of thing that you have to earn ♪
♪ And when you earn it, you won’t need it ♪
♪ Oh, my love’s the type of thing that you have to earn ♪
♪ And when you earn it, you won’t need it ♪

*tempo slows back down*

♪ I’m not gonna give you love ♪
♪ Just ‘cause I know that you want me to ♪
♪ If you want love, then the love has got to come from you ♪

*crowd cheers*

*Electric guitar music begins playing as Bo gets up from the bench, walking and playing air guitar. A pre-recorded voice sings as Bo walks with purpose towards the front of the stage.*

♪ Walking between the microphones ♪
♪ Is really awkward ♪

*music stops*

Tell me about it.

*crowd laughs, Bo chuckles*

Women are stupid.
Yeah, I fucking said it.
They’re the weaker, dumber sex. I can prove it to you.
I like to practice safe sex. Why?
‘Cause I’m a guy, and I’m smarter.
What do women say every time?
Every time I put on a condom what do they say?
“Why are you wearing a condom if I’m fucking you with a strap-on?”
To be safe, bitch.

*crowd laughs*

Women, right?
They’re the dumb ones.

*crowd applauds*

It’s time for a story.
Let’s do a story.

*children’s music playing*

♪ It’s time for a story ♪
♪ It’s time for a story ♪
♪ A very special story especially for you ♪
♪ It’s time for a story ♪
♪ It’s time for a story ♪
♪ Sit down and listen now ♪
♪ Don’t be a Jew ♪

This story is called Andy — That’s a glitch. You can be Jewish.
This story *pauses for laughter* this story is called Andy the Frog, featuring long and convoluted similes. And I’ll warn you when one of those long, convoluted similes rears its old head. So here we go.

Once upon a time, there was a frog named Andy.
*makes a strange noise*
Andy lived at the Patton Park pond and had never hopped anywhere else in his entire frog life.
He had three best friends: Millie, who never left her lily pad, *giggles* Billy, who was always hopping mad, *giggles* and Roger, who was arrested for possession of tadpole porn.
So one day *pauses for laughter* one day, Andy saw something hop across the grass on the other side of the pond.
“Millie, Billy, Roger, look,” said Andy.
Across the pond stood the most beautiful frog Andy had ever seen.
“She’s gorgeous,” said Millie.
“She’s beautiful,” said Billy.
“Bit old for my taste,” said Roger.
Classic Roger!

*crowd laughs*

And then she was gone.
“I need to go find her,” said Andy.
“I need to follow my little frog heart.”
So Andy followed the beautiful frog’s footsteps into the forest.
He then came across a turtle.
“You can’t pass,” said the turtle.
“Please?” said Andy.
“No,” said the turtle.

And uh, this is the first long, convoluted simile.

Then there was a rustling in the bushes.
And like a man who had been shot in the chest with a rifle, the turtle was shot in the chest with a rifle.

*crowd laughs, Bo flips the page in his story book*

Andy kept moving, but at this point, like the doctor of the Kenyan track team, his patience ran thin.
Andy kept moving.

*pauses for laughter*

He then came across a giant crocodile.
And the crocodile began to chant,
“I woke up this morning, and I sat on a log.
I opened up the menu. The menu said ‘frog.’”
Andy said, “No, no! Please let go of me! I can feel myself dying! You’re ripping out my insides! I’m never gonna find her, am I? There’s no God, is there? Fuck! Fuck!”

The end.
The end.
So, that’s the end of that story.

*crowd laughs and applauds*

Yeah, if you’re curious, the moral of that story is irrelevant, ‘cause we’re humans. Why would it apply to us?


Um, you know my father is so hard to get along with, ‘cause he’s such a man’s man, you know?

He believes, like, for example, you should always fight fire with fire, which is a horrible way to live your life, um, especially for him, ‘cause he’s a firefighter. So, um, he was fired.

That was as stupid as we get.

But let’s get a little stupider, huh?

*Bo sits down on the stool and begins acting out fishing to a pre-recorded track with a creepy look on his face*

♪ There’s a creepy old man fishing in the park ♪
♪ And the only problem is ♪
♪ He tied a candy bar to the end of his line ♪
♪ He’s trying to catch a kid ♪


You know, that stuff.
Trying to get a little more mainstream.
*Bo chuckles*

Um, people complain about the way I act onstage very often. You know, they say, like, I repeat jokes. *Bo throws confetti in the air in a nod to his previous joke from the beginning of the show*

Or, they also say that…they say — they don't get, again, that this is an act onstage. And they think, onstage, I act too arrogant, too self-obsessed, solipsistic, self-contained, synonyms. And they want me to be — they want me to be a comic of the people, you know, relate to the people with the overarching glue of comedy.

So I want to do a little bit of relatable comedy for you guys. *giggles knowingly* I’m like you guys. You know, once a week, I like to slip into a deep existential depression where I lose all my sense of oneness and self-worth. HAHA!

And what I like to do in order to assure myself that I am unique and I’m not just one of many small, white, indistinguishable, perfectly cylindric checker pieces in Jesus and Satan’s backgammon game is, I will — I’ll say a group of words that I think no one has ever said in that order, so that when I say it, I feel like, “Look at me, participating in this new moment that no one’s ever been a part of.”

So I’ll say something random, like, “Peanut butter tribadism.”

Or, uh, “I’m your father, and I loved your comedy show.”

*sadly pauses for laughter*

Or, “At first, I wasn’t comfortable leaving him alone with my children, but then I saw his mustache. Phew!”

Or, “Yo, check out this Amish website!”

Or, um *pauses for laughter* Or, “I work at a tollbooth, and I don’t want to kill myself.”

Or — that’s too real.

Or, “Yo, man, my life’s about three things, man, three things: getting money, getting pussy, and the Dewey decimal system.”

Or, uh *pauses for laughter* Or, “Hey, can you hold my fanny pack? I’m gonna go fuck a woman.”

*Bo walks back towards the keyboard amidst cheers and applause*

If I could break — *stutters* — I want to thank you all for being here, because I’m so grateful that you’d all come here and spend an hour of your time with me. And if you’re watching at home or whatever, on a computer or something, if you’ve made it this far, thank you very much for watching. Genuinely, this is my favorite thing to do. And I’m so grateful for people watching it and enjoying it. Um, okay, I will now recede back into my stage persona.

*twitches, makes indifferent, disgusted face at the crowd as he begins to play the keyboard*

I just blacked out for twenty seconds.

Thank you for coming.

Love songs used to be so beautiful.

You know, “Let us go, then, you and I, when the evening has spread out against the sky like a patient etherized upon a table.” T.S. Eliot, beautiful.

*crowd laughs*

Love songs nowadays, just as beautiful, guys.

Usher, Justin Bieber, 1D, you know them.

But these new artists — they’ve done something very strange to the format of the love song. They’ve changed it a bit. And I tried to capture how they’ve changed the format of the love song with this love song. I hope you enjoy it and mark the differences.

♪ Jason Derulo ♪


*speeds up tempo of previous music*

♪ I love your hair, I love your name ♪
♪ I love the way you say it ♪
♪ I love your heart ♪
♪ And you’re so smart, ‘cause you gave away it ♪
♪ I love your sis, I love your dad ♪
♪ I love your mom, but more than all of that ♪
♪ I love the fact that you are dumb enough ♪
♪ To not realize everything I’ve said ♪
♪ Has been said before in a thousand ways ♪
♪ In a thousand songs sung with the same four chords ♪
♪ But you’ll still love it and let me finger you ♪
♪ Yeah, finger you, finger you ♪

♪ Oh, girl, I hope you don’t think that I’m rude ♪
♪ When I tell you that I love you, boo ♪
♪ I also hope that you don’t see through ♪
♪ This cleverly constructed ruse ♪
♪ Designed by a marketing team ♪
♪ Cashing in on puberty and low self-esteem ♪
♪ And girls’ desperate need to feel loved ♪

♪ America says we love a chorus ♪
♪ But don’t get complicated and bore us ♪
♪ Though meaning might be missing ♪
♪ We need to know the words after just one listen ♪

♪ So repeat stuff, repeat stuff ♪
♪ Repeat stuff, repeat stuff, repeat stuff ♪
♪ Repeat stuff, repeat stuff, repeat stuff ♪
♪ Repeat stuff, repeat stuff ♪
♪ Yeah, oh, you know it! ♪

♪ I love my baby, and you know ♪
♪ I couldn’t live without her ♪
♪ But now I need to make every girl ♪
♪ Think this song’s about her ♪
♪ Just to make sure that they spread it like the plague ♪
♪ So I describe my dream girl as really, really vague ♪
♪ Like, I love your hands ♪
♪ ‘Cause your fingerprints are like no other ♪
♪ I love your eyes and their bluish, brownish, greenish color ♪
♪ I love it when you smile that you smile wide ♪
♪ And I love how your torso has an arm on either side ♪

♪ Now, if you’re my agent, you might be thinking ♪
♪ “Oh, no, sound the alarms ♪
♪ You’re not appealing to little girls ♪
♪ Who don’t have arms ♪
♪ But they can’t use iTunes, so fuck them ♪
♪ Who needs them?” ♪

♪ Oh, girl, I — ♪

Oh, hello, Satan.

*Bo puts his mouth around the entire head of the microphone*

Satan, you taste so good.

♪ Repeat stuff, repeat stuff ♪
♪ Repeat stuff, repeat stuff, repeat stuff ♪


*crowd joins in singing*

Come on, louder!
I can’t hear you!

*Bo stops playing, allows the crowd to sing with no instrumental. Bo stands up and at attention and does the fascist hand symbol to cheers and laughs*

*sits back down at the keyboard and begins playing again while he speaks*

Young ones, listen up.

♪ I’m in magazines ♪
♪ Full of model teens ♪
♪ So far above you ♪

♪ So read them and hate yourself ♪
♪ Then pay me to tell you I love you ♪
*hoarsely* I love you.

♪ And your parents will always come along ♪
♪ Because their little girl is in love ♪
♪ And how could love be wrong? ♪

♪ How could love be wrong? ♪

♪ When you repeat stuff, repeat stuff ♪
♪ Repeat stuff, repeat stuff ♪ *starts blubbering*

*more blubbering*

♪ We know it’s not right ♪
♪ We know it’s not funny ♪
♪ But we’ll stop beating this dead horse ♪
♪ When it stops spitting out money ♪

♪ But until then ♪
♪ We will repeat stuff ♪

*stops playing and gets up from keyboard amidst applause*

*lights dim as Bo approaches the front of the stage*

Thank you so much. You guys have been absolutely amazing. *takes a sip of water* You’ve been absolutely amazing. That’s the end of the show. I probably should’ve ended it on a sort of higher note there. But, yeah, that’s the end of what. I hope you liked it.

*pre-recorded woman’s voice interrupts Bo*

Woman: Bo, oh, my God. How are you?! I haven’t seen you since, like, freshman year. Oh, my God. You were so, like, skinny and weird back then. Um, but now you’re, um —Anyway, you should totally come to this party I’m having tonight with a bunch of my college friends. It’s gonna be off the chain hook. It’s gonna be so good. You can play some songs for us or something. I’ve been telling everybody how good of friends we were back in the day. *giggles* I know we never talked or hung out ever, but I think that’s what made our friendship so special, you know? Anyway, text me! Okay, bye.

*second, masculine voice comes in; we’ll call him “Agent”*

Agent: Mr. Burnham. How you doing? Good? Good. I’m an agent from out in Los Angeles. Really dig your stuff, man. It’s out there, you know. I totally get it. And the best part about it, man, you got all these young fans, which is great, because young people — they’re very passionate, and they’re very reliable consumers. But what you gotta do in order to take your career to the next level, you gotta cater more heavily to them. All right, we’ve done studies. Young people do not respond to this, you know, introspective material, or these challenges to the form, you know. Young people want jokes they can relate to, okay? So, write a silly song about Facebook, you know? Write some jokes about Twitter, or sugary cereals or Razor scooters. Relate to them. You know, also, you gotta reestablish your presence on the Internet buddy, all right? It’s not important whether the material’s good or not. What’s important is that you keep the Bo Burnham brand alive and well. You get it? Cool. We’ll discuss more later. I know it’s a lot. My number is 310–555…*mumbles*

*third, douchey voice interrupts the Agent; we’ll call him “Douche”*

Douche: Fag. What up, dude? What’s up? How are you, man? You’ve changed, bro. You’ve changed. I never knew you. But my friend’s old roommate’s friend said he knew you in high school, and you became a real asshole once all this comedy stuff started happening. What is it, man? You think you’re better than us? You think you’re better than us just ‘cause you’re tall? Well, congrats, man. You’re tall. Wow. It’s incredible. Woah, you want a trophy for being tall? We should just give trophies to tall things. Then every tree and building will have a trophy. Does that make sense? Yo, why are you acting all quiet and weird right now? Yo, I know why you are. It’s ‘cause you’re an arrogant prick, that’s why, an arrogant fucking prick. I once heard that you actually act quiet because you’re shy and introverted in real life and that people shouldn’t expect you to act the same way offstage as you do onstage. *chuckles* Yeah. Yeah, that makes no sense. Anyway, you want to buy some weed?

*Bo, annoyed, pinches the bridge of his nose and turns around.*

Woman: Bo, oh, my God.
Bo, oh, my God.

*Bo treats the voices like a button, pushing the air with his finger in the direction he was facing when each voice was talking. This technique is creating sort of a beat.*

Woman: Bo. Bo.
Bo, Bo, Bo, Bo, Bo, Bo, Bo. Oh, my God.
Agent: Mr. Burnham.
W: Bo, Bo.
Douche: Fag.
W: Bo, oh, my God.
A: Mr. Burnham.
W: Bo, Bo.
D: Fag.
W: Bo, oh, my God.
A: Mr. Burnham.
W: Bo, Bo.
D: Fag.
W: Bo, oh, my God.
A: Mr. Burnham.
W: Bo, Bo.
D: Fag.
W: Bo, oh, my God.
A: Mister —
D: Fag.
A: Mister — Mister —
D: Fag.
W: Bo, oh, my God.
A: Mister —
D: Fag.
A: Mister — Mister —
D: Fag.
W: Bo.
D: Fag.
W: Oh, my God.
D: Fag.
A: Mi — Mi —
D: Fag.
A: Mi — Mi —
D: Fag.
A: Mr. Burnham.
D: Fag. Fag.
W: Oh, my God.
D: Fag.
A: Mi — Mi —
D: Fag.
A: Mi — Mi —
D: Fag.
A: Mi — Mi —
D: Fag.
A: Mi — Mi —
D: Fag.
A: Mi — Mi —
D: Fag.
A: Mi — Mi —
D: Fag.

*Bo points towards the ground*

I am Satan, lord of darkness.

W: Bo, oh, my God.
D: Fag.
A: Mr. Burnham.
D: Fag.
W: Bo.
D: Fag.
W: Bo.
D: Fag.
W: Oh, my God.

*Bo points toward the ceiling, insects chirping as to imitate silence*

D: Fag.
W: Bo.
D: Fag.
W: Oh, my God.
A: Mr. Burnham.
D: Fag.
W: Bo.
D: Fag.
W: Bo, oh, my God.
D: Fag.
A: Mr. Burnham.
D: Fag.
W: Bo.

*Bo imitates punching the direction of the Douche character, who grunts from impact*

D: Uh, Uh, HEY!
Uh, Uh, HEY!
W: What the hell?
D: Uh, Uh, HEY!
Uh, Uh, HEY!
W: You’re not gonna hit the girl? That’s sexist.
D: F — f — f — fag.
A: Mister — Mi — Mi — Mister.
W: Bo, Bo.
D: We think you’ve changed, bro.
A: We know best.
W: You suck.
D: We think you’ve changed, bro.
A: We know best.
W: You suck.
D: We think —
A: We know —
W: You.

*“We think we know you” continues playing on the track for several seconds, and then Bo begins playing air keyboard as an upbeat electronic musical beat plays for at least a minute to accompany the words*

A: Mister — Mister — Mister — Mister.

*beat ends in a crash noise*

W: Bo, oh, my God.
Bo, oh, my God. Bo.

*extremely autotuned voice overlays the woman’s voice, Bo is still moving his hands as he “controls” the flow of the words*

♪ Oh, my God ♪
♪ Bo, oh, my God ♪
♪ Bo, oh, my God ♪
♪ Fag, fag ♪
♪ Bo ♪
♪ Fag, fag ♪
♪ Oh, my God ♪
♪ Fag, fag ♪
♪ Bo, oh, my God ♪
♪ Fag, fag, fag ♪
♪ Bo, oh, my God ♪
♪ Fag, fag ♪
♪ Bo, Bo ♪
♪ Fag, fag ♪
♪ Bo, Bo ♪
♪ Fag, fag ♪
♪ Bo, Bo ♪

*electronic beat ends, Bo slides down the frets of his air guitar as a rock beat begins*

♪ Oh, my God ♪
♪ Oh, my God ♪
♪ Oh, my God ♪
♪ Oh, my God ♪
♪ Oh, my God ♪
♪ Oh, my God ♪
♪ Mr. Burnham ♪

*♪ Oh, my God ♪ Mr. Burnham ♪ continues for over a minute as Bo continues to dance and play air instruments*

*music stops completely*

Mr. Burnham.

*lights go down, crowd applauds loudly*

For the purpose of this paper, I decided to take a free online left brain/right brain dominance test. I’m not sure how reliable the service is, but my score was 46/100, meaning I have a pretty even split between dominance in the left brain and dominance in the right brain. My results actually leaned more towards left brain dominance, which actually surprised me.

Though I don’t know Bo’s score, anyone can see in his humor that the opposing hemispheres of Bo’s brain appear to be at constant war. But, the result of this stalemate is both sides working together in harmony to entertain us all.

What’s so special about Bo Burnham’s formula for comedy is that it appeals to both the heartless, twisted, left-brainers of this world, while also being fun and emotional enough to lure in right-brainers. It’s this drawing ability that has made him such a hot commodity in a short amount of time. At the time that what. was recorded and brought onto Netflix for streaming, he had only been on the stand-up scene for about five years and yet he was in the middle of his fourth successful tour at the age of 23.

The dark and twisted aspects of Bo’s left brain compliment the immature and whimsical components of his right brain in a perfect balance of cringe-worthy 9/11 jokes and detailed depictions of masturbation.

Bo Burnham has accomplished a lot in his almost decade-long career. When he first started out, Bo admits that he was worried that comedians who had been “grinding it out on the comedy scene for 15 years” would see him as “some little kid [that] had showed up and had an audience sort of fall into his lap out of nowhere.” Fortunately for Bo, he has been shown respect “across the board” by the comedians he considers his inspirations.

Bo could be considered the comedian of Generation Z. He came up through the ranks of YouTube and made a name for himself in the real world. Sure, he didn’t “grind it out” like comedians of the past, but with the shockingly original content he creates and the unique musical nature of his shows, Bo Burnham is a powerhouse in the world of comedy and I don’t see him burning out any time soon.


Bo Burnham’s rise to fame began very humbly, with a stack of books serving as his first tripod to film himself singing about the quirks of his family. His first YouTube video, entitled “My Whole Family…” was never intended to reach an audience outside of Bo’s immediate family. Bo uploaded the video so he could send the link to his older brother, who was off at college. In this video, a young, awkward Bo can be seen singing about how his family thinks he is gay.

Almost a decade later, not much has changed. In his widely-acclaimed comedy sketch, what., Bo returns with a fresh repertoire of flamboyant songs, complaints about his family, and political incorrectness.

Bo was born Robert Burnham to parents in Hamilton, Massachusetts. He began performing skits at the age of three, which he and his family affectionately called “Bo Shows.” This love of performing has obviously carried well into his adult life.

At the age of eighteen, Bo became the youngest comedian ever to perform on Comedy Central Presents. The Comedy Central record label took notice of the burgeoning popularity of his work on YouTube and signed him to a four album deal. His first release was an EP called Bo Fo Sho, which was released in 2008. His first full length album was released the following year in 2009, followed by a second full length album and his first live comedy special, Words Words Words, being released in 2010.

It has been a whirlwind few years for Mr. Burnham. He got his big break into the world of comedy at the ripe old age of eighteen after two years of posting satirical songs about rape, sex, homosexuality and his troubles at home on Youtube. And even almost ten years later, Bo has shown no intention of slowing down his steady rise to fame.

Although Bo has a very flamboyant stage presence and often sings about how his parents and classmates thought he was gay, he is actually very much a straight man. He doesn’t speak out about her publicly, but he has been in a relationship with his girlfriend for over five years.

His more flamboyant side comes out in most of his songs, with his high-pitched voice and jokes about homosexuality. However, he can expertly divert from his cynical, crude jokes to become very introspective and self-aware when necessary. In his song “From the Perspective of God,” Bo becomes very introspective about the ways to earn the love of God and how many people desire the love of God only to get into heaven. This is interesting, as Bo does not believe in God himself.

These opposing sides of Bo’s comedy show how wickedly talented he is while also displaying the influences either side of his brain has on his wit and delivery. All of his songs showcase his obvious musical ability, playing upbeat melodies on the keyboard and the upright piano. In a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” he did in December 2013, Bo admits that he can’t actually read or write music. One can only assume that he is self-taught, which is a feat in and of itself. His natural musical ability would be a product of his right brain.

However, the witty and fun lyrics he writes can be attributed to both his left and right brain. The creative aspect of his words comes from the right brain, while the deeper, more thought-out satires, puns, and the detail with which he executes his jokes would come from the left brain. The way he merges the two hemispheres of the brain to create a brilliantly funny comedy sketch is extremely entertaining to watch.

Works Cited

“Bo Burnham Biography.” IMDb. Accessed March 29, 2015.

“Bo Burnham.” Wikipedia. Accessed March 29, 2015.

Burnham, Bo. “I Am a Comedian Named Bo Burnham. My New Special “what.” Is out for Free on YouTube/Netflix. AMA.” Reddit. December 19, 2013. Accessed March 29, 2015. http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/1t9uq6/.

“Lateralization of Brain Function.” Wikipedia. Accessed March 29, 2015.

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