Bo Burnham: Inside

Bo Burnham: Inside ★★

Bo Burnham, please retire. More for your sake than for mine.

Never thought I’d ever describe Bo Burnham as insufferable. Not necessarily because this is bad, but because it’s actually extremely difficult to watch. I’m the type of person who doesn’t like when art is too personal. Maybe I didn’t receive enough hugs as a child, but I can’t stand to watch people undressing themselves in front of me. It’s the same reason that I don’t like Synechdoche, New York. The same reason I can’t listen to Olivia Rodrigo spill her feelings all over the microphone. The same reason why I can't read some of my friends' Letterboxd reviews. Probably the same reason that I completely freeze up and stand in place when someone near me starts crying. Something about the way I’m wired just makes these things extremely off-putting and not in a good way.

And Bo Burnham’s Inside is probably the most egregious example of this I’ve ever seen. It’s obvious that he poured his soul into this thing, but he certainly didn’t use a measuring cup. This is more of a documentary of the toll that lockdown took on him than a comedy special. Bo has always been transparent about the suffering that goes into making his art, but this actually morphs into suffering AS art.

Suffering as content. I can’t imagine recording yourself having mental breakdowns and then cutting it up in Premiere Pro. He continually tortures himself under the guise of self-deprecation. He simultaneously embodies the roles of "a character in an Aronofsky movie", "the audience of an Aronofsky movie", and of Aronofsky himself. It’s unbearable. It doesn’t feel like content to be consumed or a comedy special to be laughed at. It feels like watching a guy keep himself busy out of necessity.

When he isn’t making jokes at his own expense, his material is painfully millennial. He pens songs about sexting, emojis, and white women pumpkin spice latte stereotypes. He cracks jokes about hating zoomers. He talks a lot about being self-aware and how so many of his jokes are hypocritical, yet also mentions how being self-aware doesn’t excuse anything that anyone does. It's rote. None of this is particularly funny, and even if it was, it’d be overshadowed by everything I already mentioned.

In my eyes, this really should’ve never been made.

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