After a year of finding escapism in binge-watching during a pandemic, Bo Burhnam decided to turn the camera onto himself in his special, Inside. Having seen this comedian-turned filmmaker since his early YouTube days, we were all ready for a spectacle. What was essentially Bo Burnham in a room with a camera and light equipment turned out to be a range of the most profound, close-to-home hitting songs of the COVID-19 era. Burnham talking about the internet, mental health issues, and the strangeness of a birthday in lockdown felt relatable for many of us.
If you didn’t already know Bo Burnham, you may have recognized the name, which was behind the 2018 film Eighth Grade, or as the “nice guy” in Promising Young Woman. Burnham was one of the first teenagers to “go viral” in 2006 at the age of 16 with his first song, titled, “My Whole Family…”. This was the first of many musical comedy songs that garnered him a cult following. He went on to perform and create live specials such as what. and Make Happy. Then, in 2015, he announced his departure from performing after his mental health became so bad he was having panic attacks onstage.
In early 2020, Burnham decided he would make his return to performing, until the pandemic hit. Instead, Bo Burnham wrote, performed, shot, and edited Inside, quite literally, inside. The show has been praised for the way it captured the spirit of mental health in quarantine, but for those who aren’t from a generation in which being mental health is a punchline, it can be shocking, particularly when he says,
“I hope this special can do for you what it’s done for me these past couple months,” he explains, “Which is: distract me from wanting to put a bullet in my head with a gun.” But for the core Bo Burnham fanbase, this is how they communicate since they’ve spent childhoods online. His jokes aren’t subtle, but then again, these aren’t subtle times.
Some highlights of the special include songs like, “White Woman’s Instagram” that pokes fun at just how vapid we can be on social media, or “Problematic” which comments on our society’s constantly shifting moral compass. Ultimately it’s a special that is full of beautiful insights into what we’ve all been experiencing since the start of the pandemic. The special is only 90 minutes, but the existential crisis it’ll give you will last a lifetime.
Photo courtesy tech radar