Bo Burnham’s “Inside” was not made by Bo Burnham

It’s 2017, I am on vacation in Cannes listening to “Can’t Handle This” by Bo Burnham from his Netflix Special “Make Happy”. I love it, it conveys sadness in a bitter-sweet way and it’s the perfect soundtrack for my teenage salty phase. Only one thing was in my mind back then: What Bo Burnham will do now?

Short answer: Nothing. In 2018 his first movie as a Director “Eight Grade” came out. I watched it and thought it was lame to say the least, but I also understood it was made for a specific target that I was not part of. I was really a big fan of him and I waited for so long for a new show or something that came closer to his songs. I watched all his Funny clips and Vines craving to get some new content and I kept waiting.

What actually happened is that I became an adult (or something like that) and I forgot about my Bo Burnham phase. I used his songs to overcome my teenager’s dramas and I simply moved on. It’s selfish to say, but I think I needed more songs of his in my 19’s, they would definitely help me start my college career with less anxiety.

Then Inside, his new Netflix Special, came out and I was afraid to watch it. I hear people talking about it and everybody was so enthusiastic that I fear it was going to be a letdown. When something gets popular I tend to lose all my interest and so it happened: I deliberately ignored Inside for a month.

I saw Instagram stories and posts talking about it, videos that praised the amazing songs and so on. Then one night I took my laptop, opened Netflix, and watched it.

Inside is different from everything I have ever seen in my life, it’s a stand-up show but it’s also a musical and a feature film. Its cinematography is impeccable, its visuals are stunning and the editing is on point.

Everything is great but…It was not made by Bo Burnham.

The real author of Inside is Robert Pickering Burnham.

Bo is the pseudonym used by Robert. And Bo is, without any doubt, dead. There’s nothing of the author of Make Happy in Inside. Like any other person, Robert Burnham matured and he outgrew Bo that silly comedian in his twenties who tried to make people laugh. There’s no place for comedy here, and it is clear from the beginning thanks to “Comedy” the second track of the show.

Is comedy over?
Should I leave you alone?
’Cause, really, who’s gonna go for joking at a time like this?
Should I be joking at a time like this?

From that moment I realized that things were not going to go as I thought and also as I wanted. I wasn’t watching the Bo Burnham I grew up with, I was watching the real Robert in a depressed state asking for help and it scared me.

Inside made me feel really uncomfortable and even though I enjoyed the show I couldn’t stop thinking about how Robert's mental health is declining. What surprised me the most is the fact that for the first time ever he said his name in one of his songs, Content.

Sorry that I look like a mess (Ah, ah, ah)
I booked a haircut, but it got rescheduled
Robert’s been a little depressed

The only thing that bothered me is that at the end of the show he didn’t take distance from his comedian counterpart, he just leaves this ambiguity about who is and who is supposed to be. Maybe he is too attached to his old self or maybe it was too late to highlight the difference between Bo and Robert, who knows.

I hope that Robert will continue his career as an actor and director and put aside his “stand-up comedian version”, the impression from the outside is that Bo Burnham just makes him suffer.

So now, as an “adult”, I can say that I am not expecting any new content from Bo but only from Mr. Robert Burnham, and in the end I hope he can be happy.

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Federico Mamone

Federico Mamone

Writer and Aspiring Journalist. I overthink therefore I am not sure what I am.