The Anguish of Bo Burnham

If I could ask Bo Burnham one question it would be this – how much pain are you carrying in any given moment?

Standing in the cold, brilliant, white light of Burnham’s newest Netflix comedy special ‘Inside” it is easy to get lost in the humour (which is the point I suppose).

But…

What Burnham really excels at putting on display here is naked pain and cynicism that somehow is both sarcastic and self-critical at the same time. It’s a tightrope no one can walk like he does.

The entire production is written, directed, filmed and edited by Burnham throughout a year confined at home during the Covid-19 pandemic. There is a cadence or rhythm to the show where the audience is knocked out of phase or off balance by a back and forth between ridiculous and deep, where one makes the other intensely personal and powerful.

Packed with existential dread Burnham has the kind of terrifying, insightful energy and presence of Robin Williams or Andy Kaufman which makes you feel like the joke is on him as much as it is on you…and this is intentional. He is holding up a double-sided mirror and while you are forced to look at yourself you know he is doing the same.

Burnham makes you feel his discomfort, he pours it into you and maybe this is cathartic for him.

Ultimately Burnham is one of the most honest, anguished comedians or artists I have watched epitomizing the fact that “all the world is a stage”. In the end I wanted to weep as much as I wanted to laugh.

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