Bo Burnham’s “Inside”: A comedic take on creative “burnout”

After a supposed final bow from comedy, Burnham returns with eye-opening commentary on the past year.

Bo Burnham’s latest comedy special, “Inside,” details the honest and mind-grating process of being creative in the midst of a pandemic. His Netflix special is largely carried by a variety of catchy tunes all glazed in pure satire. Viewers can expect a hard-hitting self-realization about the state of the world and a reflection of how isolation can affect a person. 

“Inside” is a multi-faceted production. From deep historical takes to Burnham’s self-analysis of his experience as a comedian, the production of Burnham’s special is more than surface-level entertainment. Burnham utilizes his knack for musical songwriting to his advantage when conveying the broad horizons of the internet, even discussing mindless matters like a white woman’s Instagram. 

In his special, Burnham includes a satirical parody about his place as a white comedian, making remarks about the world given his privilege and talent. 

“And I want to help to leave this world/Better than I found it/And I fear that comedy won’t help/But the fear is not unfounded,” Burnham sings in his second parodical tune of the special titled “Comedy.”

This is followed-up by a series of shots of Burnham setting up his one-man show, occasionally adjusting camera lenses, lights and testing instruments. It really illustrates the essence of working at home: an environment void of community and what one thinks of when being alone. 

While Burnham’s playful yet heavy-hitting commentary reflects his insight into the Internet and social media, it also heavily resonated with how I internalize online content and set expectations for myself. 

With productivity propaganda ever-present on the internet, it’s very difficult to be productive in quarantine since the nature of staying at home seldom helps anyone do any work. In many scenes, Burnham displays dark colors to visualize the effects of isolation. He also decorates his one-room show with fun, flashy lights with his more upbeat rhythms. The contrasting themes are useful for “Inside”’s subtle comedy about pandemic life. 

I often push myself to constantly do work and find solace in results, but like many others, being a results-driven person when it feels as if time has stopped is incredibly difficult. Burnham depicts that feeling within this special skillfully and I truly appreciate his effort in producing such a wonderful gem.

I recommend “Inside” to anyone who is pressured by burnout for a modest amount of comedic relief that an award-winning, talented producer and writer like Bo Burnham is able to create considering the deviating nature of isolation.