Bo Burnham is a famous comedian and singer-songwriter who recently performed at the Carolina Theater in Durham. His “Make Happy Tour” in 2015 is wrapping up after he performed in multiple states and countries.
Burnham posted his first video to YouTube when he was only 16 years old. The video went viral, sparking his career. By 18, he became the youngest person to have his own special on Comedy Central. He then performed in his first show “Words Words Words” at 19. Since then, he has released a poetry book, made and sold an album, aired a sitcom in which he starred and went on tour.
Now, Burnham is almost 25 and still furthering his career. He performs several days a week, constantly on the go. Almost all of his shows sell out in advance. People everywhere are excited to see his new acts.
One of best qualities regarding Burnham’s work is his ability to make the audience laugh and then hit the them with the sad truth about society.
For example, one of his most popular songs is “Repeat Stuff”. The song starts out making fun of the typical love song. He then talks about the way these common love songs thrive off of girls’ low self esteem. Their desire to be the perfect girl, similar to the ones in magazines and on TV, is what fuels the large companies. The companies use the girls by creating songs where attractive singers tell the girls that they love them, causing the songs to make more money.
Finally, Burnham concludes the song with “We know it’s not right, we know it’s not funny. /
But we’ll stop beating this dead horse when it stops spitting out money”. He circles back to the idea that these similar love songs are doing nothing but hindering young girls. But, no one is going to stop making the songs, simply because of how much money they make.
Another great example of Burnham’s wit is his song “Sad”. In this song, Burnham takes multiple tragic incidents and sings about them, causing the audience to laugh. After a couple of verses, he acknowledges the audience’s laughter and wonders why they are laughing at such sad events. He then goes on to think the situation through, coming to the conclusion that as long as the bad events are not happening to some people, those people will laugh at the events.
He mocks this idea by telling more sad stories, making the audience continue to laugh. Burnham’s final line is “’Cause tragedy will be exclusively joked about, because my empathy is bumming me out. Goodbye, sadness! Hello, jokes.” He elaborates on his previous conclusion by saying that people are purposefully laughing at the tragic events because being empathic towards them is too sad.
“Repeat Stuff” and “Sad” epitomize Burnham’s usage of his light-hearted music to send serious messages. Is it a good thing that companies feed off of the low self esteem of young girls? Are people justified in mocking traumatic situations? Of course not. However, no one ever stops and looks at these circumstances from those points of views. Everyone is too busy singing along with the latest boy band or telling cruel jokes to their friends.
Though some of his content is vulgar, it, along with insight, still conveys his messages perfectly. Burnham’s rise to fame at an early age has only helped him become more popular. He was able to reach a younger audience from the start and continues to reach people of all ages now.
One of his more popular songs amongst his audience is called “Art is Dead” in which he sings about the immaturity amongst comics and actors. He says how they are the obnoxious child at a birthday party who is now paid to continue acting immature. The line that best explains this is “My drug’s attention, I am an addict, but I get paid to indulge in my habit.”
Finally, Burnham takes a moment to question himself and other comics and actors. He asks why he thinks he is worthy of all the attention and money he is receiving by saying “I must be psychotic, I must be demented to think that I’m worthy of all this attention, of all of this money, you worked really hard for. I slept in late while you worked at the drug store.”
Although some people may view Burnham as someone who is doing nothing more than complaining or trying to corrupt minds, all of his claims are true. His ability to take overlooked or ignored concepts and present them to the masses in a way that makes everyone see them for what they truly are is incredible.