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oh bo

From YouTube prodigy to stand-up comedian, then television writer (briefly, thank God) to poetry writer (briefly, unfortunately) and back to stand-up comedian, Bo Burnham is not a typical musical comedian.
Not that musical comedians are typical by nature, but that’s beside the point.
Burnham’s second stand-up act, “what.”, graced YouTube and Netflix Dec. 17 after he toured the show for about a year. He produced the show himself and released it for free for his fans, he said on a Reddit Ask Me Anything forum.
“It took so long to make and it was something different than I’ve done before, so I really just wanted it to be as easy to find and watch as possible,” he said. “Within two hours of releasing it, I knew I’d made the right choice.”
The show, which took Burnham three years to perfect, is filled with quick wit and some of the smartest and stupidest humor from a modern day comedian. His over-theatrical and raunchy jokes bring the audience into the twisted mind of the 22-year-old comedian, or at least his stage persona.
“Sometimes [people] don’t get, again, that this is an act onstage,” he said in the special. “They think onstage I act too arrogant, too self-obsessed, solipsistic, self-contained, synonyms … They want me to be a comic of the people.”
Burnham trips through awkward segues from simple silly bits like knocking his water bottle over only to dance to his track “He meant to knock the water over” to more serious songs like “Repeat Stuff” about the state of the popular music industry.
Songs like “#Deep” and “From God’s Prospective” and the part of his show where he reads from his poetry book show how Burnham has grown as a comedian; instead of making a quick joke about how he dislikes the way the world is, he’s started to voice why he wants things to change.
What’s a little disappointing about “what.”, though, is that it shows the progression of Burnham into a more stupid direction with his comedy. His “Comedy Central Presents: Bo Burnham” show featured some really smart humor, like his sonnet about Shakespeare (complete with the monologue from Hamlet) and his quantum mechanics “song” where he just slammed on the piano.
But what the show lacks in traditional intelligence, it makes up for in intense introspection. During one segment Burnham actually talks about how, once a week, he slips into an existential depression and tries to distinguish himself by saying a segment of words that “no one’s ever said before.”
“Yo, life’s about three things!” he said in the middle of the segment. “Getting money, getting [women] and the Dewey Decimal system!”
It’s the way Burnham says the things that all of us have trouble dealing with at times, like religion and loneliness, and combines them with stupid, silly humor that has an almost childlike simplicity that makes Bo relatable as a young comedian. He has a way of making the weird kids feel a little vindicated in their oddities.
And if that doesn’t sell it for you, go look up “We Think We Know You”.

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