Bo Burnham: Inside

Bo Burnham: Inside ★★★★★

possibly Bo Burnham’s best stand-up special— if you can even call it that: INSIDE is nothing short of one of the best works of art made and about the pandemic

but— of course— that’s a gross oversimplification of everything going on here: which I have a strong and hopeful feeling will last longer than and won’t just be associated with the pandemic

without an audience, without his trademark use of stage special effects, without anything— Bo somehow manages to make one of the most dizzyingly amazing one-person productions I’ve ever seen

I don’t know if it’s just a testament to everything he learned and brought to the table for EIGHTH GRADE but the direction, cinematography, lighting, sound, and editing are just top notch here to the point of being legitimately shocking

it’s constantly jumping, consistently dazzling, and shows Bo really taking advantage of the situational medium by pulling of segments that just couldn’t be done on a traditional stage and INSIDE is all the better and more unique for it

but that’s not the only way this stand-up stands out

Bo’s frequently expressed his disdain with both traditional stand-up comedy and entertainment media in general and INSIDE sees him completely lean into this

I’ll be honest— I didn’t laugh at this one nearly as much as MAKE HAPPY— but watching it and WHAT. and this all back to back shows a distinctive artistic growth that leads me to believe that’s entirely the point

Bo isn’t just trying to make you laugh here— he wants you to know how much this whole year’s genuinely fucked him up, made him grow and atone for things he’s said in the past, caused him to be critical of what’s going on now, and anxious over what he’ll do in the future: if he even makes it there

Bo’s never been more frank about his suicidal tendencies here and how he quit stand-up for just how many panic attacks he was having— and how even just performing for no one still caused him such pain and yet he’s constantly driven to make art to express himself to others in a time now more than ever where being locked indoors all day means you’re “supposed” to be channeling all that supposed free time into creative output and yet that same output for him is comedy and he wonders aloud the criticisms he seen of “how can you be making jokes at a time like this?” and it creates a neverending feedback loop and—

you see why I love this so much

it’s funny— sure— it’s well put together— sure— the songs are great— sure— if anything this’s more of a visual concept album than a stand-up special— no— and I mean this sincerely: it’s more of an experience

this is the rawest I think we’ve ever seen Bo and it reminds me why I’m so thankful that people around my age have him— not as someone that we can push forward as a representative of our generation like I know he would hate— but just as an artist— as a person that I can look at and say: “I get that”

INSIDE is maybe one of the best things I’ve seen all year

if this’s the last stand-up Bo ever does— he couldn’t go out on more of a high note: at least not until he does it again

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