“We all deserve love, even on the days when we aren’t our best…’Cause we all suck, but love can make us suck less.” ~ Bo Burnham
Up until a few weeks ago, I had never heard of the comedian, Bo Burnham.
I know…I’m super out of touch, and not nearly as hip as most of you are—especially the uber-plugged-in millennials. However, if there are others reading this who haven’t yet been privy to Bo’s comedic stylings, I’m super inspired and excited to share!
The hubby and I like to watch a stand-up comedy special every now and then, and the other day he put on Bo’s Netflix special, Make Happy, which is the most recent special that Mr. Burnham has released.
To say I was blown away feels like an understatement (although, I know it sounds like hyperbole), but I was so taken aback and impressed. For one, Burnham incorporates music and song into his comedic routine as a corner-stone. As a music-lover, and someone who enjoys poetry and general word-play, this unique collaboration of music and comedy really struck a chord with me. (Please excuse the pun.)
Dude is talented. He can sing, play piano and compose music. But that’s not all—he’s also intelligent as f*ck, and it shows. His sarcasm, dry-humor and quick-wit doesn’t miss a beat (sorry again!), in fact you’ll probably pick up on jokes that you missed upon a re-watch. (I’ve re-watched about four times thus far, and surprisingly, I’m not sick of the show yet.) I think this is because, beyond being funny and entertaining, Bo’s performance truly makes me feel something.
Along with the jokes and the music and fun, Burnham also touches on real-life issues that we all struggle with. Like self-doubt and insecurity, anxiety and depression. He even manages to slip in some social commentary, in a subtle and poignant way.
Of course, we can’t forget that ultimately Bo is a showman—a performer. At one point in the program, he admits to the crowd, “I’m not honest up here, not for one second.”
And to a degree, that may be true—who he is on-stage is not the definition of the “real him. ” We can’t presume to know who he really is by a performance he’s put together to entertain an audience. But—what we’ve got to keep in mind is that most of the time, what makes jokes so funny is the little bits of truth within them. And those little bits of truth—the humanness, the doubt, the pain—they peek through, and that’s part of what creates such a strong connection with his audience.
Bo claims that he is not honest on stage for one second—but I don’t think he’s being honest when he says that. (wink)
I think—at the very least—we get a glimpse of some truth in the finale performance of his show, during his Kanye-esque rant. Although, he jokes about burritos and Pringles cans being his biggest problems in life, he also admits that his biggest problem is truly—us, his audience. Because he wants to please us, and be a successful performer of course—but he also wants to say what he wants to and stay true to himself.
And that’s exactly what he does—and I have mad respect for that.
The title of his special is Make Happy—a poignant title, seeing as he openly admits to being…unhappy. He comments on the fact that so many of us—so many people—simply want to be happy.
And so, as a comedic performer, he admits (another-little-glimmer-of-honesty-here) that he’s attempting to give us, his audience, what he cannot give himself. (And I’ll be honest—it always makes me tear up a bit, even amidst the auto-tune.)
Author: Yoli Ramazzina
Image: Instagram @boburnham