Bo Burnham: Inside

Bo Burnham: Inside ★★★★★


trapped inside his room with his thoughts, bo is at his most personal and introspective. it's his most brilliant work -- inside is a collection of songs and scenes reflecting on mental health, internet and media, and the depressing world we live in.

over the course of the last year, my own mental health has been spiraling out of control. truth be told, i've grown a lot more cynical and pessimistic. a thought i've often gravitated towards during the past year is... why bother? a lot of us had big plans, dreams, hopes. my band was scheduled to play our first show! everything and anything was all shattered by a novel microscopic virus. i thought it was a good time to create. i wrote and filmed some projects, all of which i scrapped or forgot about. what was the point? creating and performing for an audience is hard but rewarding. without other people and completely alone with your deteriorating mental health: it's even harder.

inside encapsulates this claustrophobic reflection of oneself. the special begins with a desire to make positive change in the world via comedy while understanding and exaggerating the character of a self-important white guy. additionally, there's a song about confronting his past self's edgy, offensive humor -- something much needed in a time when many comedians think that "woke culture" is destroying comedy. bo's struggle to create this special (constantly wondering if he'll finish) ties into his suicidal ideation -- a way to avoid the existential dread and ennui of quarantine. he chooses to make art, which only feeds into the cycle of creativity, perfectionism, frustration, and depression.

a prominent theme of bo's work (eighth grade, make happy, inside) has been the internet's effect on mental health, especially with gen-z and younger millennials. from the depressing global news to personality quizzes to porn (lots and lots of porn), to have "anything and everything all of the time" is an overwhelming barrage that we've all come to accept. after a maddening uptempo crescendo of the repeated phrase "anything and everything," the song ends abruptly -- can we avoid this fate, or are we just unable to escape being online?

through it all, his humor is self-aware, and sometimes bitingly sarcastic but still incredibly genuine. bo asks, "should i be joking in a time like this?" inside is a masterful combination of fear, sorrow, and hope; most importantly, it is an essential example of comedy as a way to heal the self, to make sense of it all.

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