Bo Burnham.

The influences in my life that are humans are as follows (in no particular order):

Bo Burnham, Kaelin Isserlin, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Miley Cyrus, Linda Garneau, Evan Peters, Julie Andrews, Lady GaGa, and my grandmother.

I will attempt to explain my reasons for why these people have a greater influence on me than others. Hope it functions properly.

The guy who wrote a song about being a straight, white male and got away with it.

If you’ve seen his performances on YouTube or Netflix than you understand that his type of comedy may not work for some people. It delicately balances such a fine line between psychotic and socially acceptable. And that’s why I can’t get enough of it. If you’re a sensitive person and you go see him live, you’ll probably end up leaving the theatre with less emotional triggers. This is because his comedy puts the cultural, racial, sexist, religious and other problems in the world and scales them down to a grain of sand. They are mere jokes that are involved in his act.

There seems to be so much over-reaction about certain political statements which I think is necessary for our society. However, when Bo describes these kinds of arguments, he makes sure to include a clever wit. For example, he sings a four minute song in his comedy special what. as if God himself, the highest power, gives no sh**s about the rules that make up Catholic religion. Bo’s song flips around rules like not eating pork, masterbation, and he even goes as far as to say that aliens in heaven are much better to hang around than humans. If anyone was going to write a song about what God is actually thinking, this is the way to do. Go watch it.

Also, when Bo seems to step over the line a little too much, he makes sure to finish the joke and then further explains his intentions as a little coda. I believe that not only shows his professionalism but his dedication to the art of comedy. When he included a song about suicide in his most recent special titled Make Happy, I was nervous about how to react. Has this guy finally gone too far? The first few verses of the song are horrid and very blunt. To a point where if you don’t hear the rest of the song, you would definitely disrespect Bo for pessimistically using suicide as art. But during this time, his eyes are basically closed as if he is talking to himself rather than the audience. Bo’s inner voice comes out and he gives us a glance at why his comedy is closely linked to his own troubles. Then, as the next verses come in, Bo reconnects to his audience to check in on how they are doing. Like me, most people in the audience seemed stunned and awkwardly laughed… uncomfortable situations get people intrigued. Another clever idea from Bo. So, he comes back to the social aspect of his performance and declares that if there are people that feel like killing themselves then the best thing to do is get help, and speak to professional therapists. He proves the point that songs from pop artists are not interchangeable with real-life counselling, and his final joke is that people who get their help from Katy Perry’s “Roar” should rethink their decisions BIG TIME. So clever and personal all at the same time.

Rather than give you another example from Bo’s songs, I will move onto the philosophy of his poem “I F*** Sl*ts”, also from the what. performance. I know, I know… where are you going with this, Brianna? Stay with me because I know it can be difficult to link crude phrasing with philosophical wisdom. When he sets up this poem, Bo makes sure to tell the audience that it will be sappy and romantic, and coming from a male it might seem off-character… right? Nope, it’s perfectly on-character because guys have so many feelings that I think are stronger than female ones. In fact, these feelings are so strong that the only way for them to handle their insecurities towards women is to call them sl*ts and refer to their testicles as nuts. Here, Bo turns into what I think is the teenager version of himself and gives himself the freedom to say whatever his horny heart desires. He is a little boy who wants his reproductive organs to have sexual interactions frequently. I get it. Lots of boys do. So why do we force men and boys to silence their desires? Well, because they don’t have the f***ing willpower to be nice about sex (I digress).

As for Bo, I feel so influenced by his comedy and his performance quality because he scares people in the best way possible. He grabs your attention and then makes you think super hard about the human condition. I want to do that.

It is so appealing to me that he was going to study Experimental Theatre at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Due to his success as a comedian, he didn’t end up attending the prestigious program but, I can see why his eyes were set on experimenting with what it means to create theatre. Changing the game one joke at a time, Bo is able to turn politics into art and comedy into philosophy. His thought-provoking shows will continue to influence my creativity and I really hope he puts something new out for us soon. When he’s ready, of course. No point in rushing intelligence.

 

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