Wednesday, 3 June 2015

12 Reasons Bo Burnham is Awesome

My new favourite comedian (not that I have many) is Bo Burnham. I'm really not sure how I found him, but I stumbled across his show "what." on Youtube and loved it. It helped that I'd seen gifsets of his song From God's Perspective, so I was familiar with him already. I have a friend who's obsessed with Bo's work, and we just sing the songs at each other all the time. 

#1 He's daring

Even with my limited knowledge of comedy, I think Bo's style of comedy is fairly unique (yeah I know unique is either on/off, it can't be qualified, shut up. If you know the rules you can break them.) He does stand-up comedy, but he sings/raps/plays piano instead of just talking. Though he does talk a lot too. Obviously. This isn't going very well.

But it does take guts to go outside established norms, and I respect him for that. 


#2 He has initative

Bo posted his first few videos in the early days of Youtube, in 2006 (oh god I feel very young thinking about how long ago that was. That is not a typo.) 

Nowadays, everyone wants to cash in on Youtube, which is pretty much saturated by now. Back then being a Youtuber was a lot less cool or obvious. 

#3 Edgy but decent

He definitely has jokes about sensitive topics, like paedophilia, race and gender, but reassuringly he does actually seem to be a decent person (layer upon layer). I think I heard him say in an interview that he doesn't consider himself a feminist because he feels that's intruding on female activists' space, but that he does support women's rights. That's okay, I guess. He's also very outspoken on anti-homophobia (very outspoken about homosexuality in general, really - see My Whole Family Thinks I'm Gay or what.)

#4 Genuinely funny

I suppose this is a prerequisite for being a comedian, but his wit never ceases to amaze me. Despite the "gimmicks" of his musical act, you can see how witty and clever he is in improvised responses to hecklers. He really, really hates hecklers. Actually, I wonder if any comedians sit at home and rehearse responses to hecklers. Probably difficult.

#5 Nerdy

Bo is obviously a big nerd, and while he's very self-deprecating at least he doesn't deny his nerdiness. I'm finding it difficult to describe, but I just really identify with his nerdiness and it definitely makes him more likable. In my opinion.

#6 Looks

Okay, yes, he's very easy on the eye. The other reasons are still valid, but his youthful good looks and energy help bring in teenage girls. And other demographics. This is an equal-opportunity blog post.


I mean, he doesn't really try to be particularly attractive since that's not what he's selling, but looking at stills from his video for Repeat Stuff tells me that he could pretty easily be a mainstream popstar were he willing to be managed by suits (the picture above is pretty great too). 

My gif

It's great - you don't have to consider yourself a rabid fangirl because you can just say oh no he's being subversive, I don't actually like his pop persona, it's ironic - but that's not entirely true, is it?

#7 Proactive

I really admire how self-motivated Bo is (that probably helped him get into Harvard). Instead of just sticking with the stand-up gigs, he's diversifying with his book of poetry Egghead and the show Zach Stone is Gonna Be Famous, for which he wrote the script and played the lead role. Not one for resting on his laurels, it seems. 

#8 Mix of Cynicism and Earnestness 

Bo is very media-savvy (see Repeat Stuff and the finale of what., for example), well able to call the music industry out on its shit. But there's still something vulnerable and earnest there, I think, especially in songs like Art is Dead. He's not all snarky comebacks, he does have heart too. 

#9 Oddball

He's a bit of an oddball, let's admit it - and it's refreshing. I mean, how often do you see this?

Both my gifs
#10 Theatrics

Bo's on-stage theatrics are wonderful. This bit, for example, where he throws confetti in the air during an imaginary argument with his father:


#11 Stage Presence

That boy stands on stage in a totally plain outfit, with a stool, a keyboard and a piano, and he just grabs everyone's attention. It's probably a habit he learned from doing drama in school, and then there's the fact that he's been gigging for ages now.

#12 Musically Talented

As well as his comedy and acting, Bo is legitimately musically talented. He often obscures this for the sake of humour, but check out, for example, Art is Dead - he's a great songwriter. So confident is he in this surplus of talent that he can just put all these talents together into a performance without having to draw attention to anything in particular. 

Bo would probably hate this post. Don't worry, Bo, I know I'm only enamoured with the idea of you. 

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