Clever, Caustic Wordplay

Internet sensation and self-proclaimed “Aryan librarian at the word Smithsonian,” Bo Burnham has a way with words that makes audiences laugh and, occasionally, cringe. Burnham began his comedic career filming himself singing and playing the guitar for millions of YouTube viewers and now has an upcoming project with Judd Apatow, the creator of Anchorman, Superbad, and Knocked Up. Currently Burnham is currently on his first national tour (Fake I.D. Tour) which recently stopped off at The Egg in Albany, New York.

During his live show, when Burnham begins to sing and play instruments, audiences may wonder why this talented performer is not on Broadway. His multi-talented one-man show is so impressive that it is surprising that he is only 18. He can be quite offensive through his lyrics, but it is difficult to take him seriously because of his tall, lanky frame. His highly intelligent, well-performed songs and raps include sophisticated language and thought, but are not serious or mature enough for audiences to perceive Burnham as condescending. Songs like “The Perfect Woman,” which is about having a relationship with Helen Keller, and “My Whole Family Thinks I’m Gay” are both cruel and funny but also have an air of self-deprecation that the audience can appreciate and relate to.

Caustic and sarcastic, when Burnham was not belting the lyrics or reciting his verse, he was entertaining the audience with anecdotal witticisms and uproarious improvised audience interactions that had the spectators in stitches from the start.

Like with many of his songs, to fully comprehend the extent of Burnham’s puns and quips, one would most likely need to have the lyrics in hand. Burnham speaks so quickly and his wordplay is so complicated that it is nearly impossible to fully grasp the number of people whom Bo Burnham is insulting or offending through his words. Minorities, stereotypes, the physically handicapped-there is no group that Burnham is not willing to ridicule, and he does so in the most harmless, tasteful way, if that is possible.

Unlike his comedic predecessors and peers, Burnham isn’t afraid to embrace the fact that he is the product of a white, upper class household or that he went to private school. He now basically renounces the Christian beliefs and ethnic tolerance he learned as a child, at least for comedy’s sake. Burnham is a blend of crass and satirical that allows for the audience’s perfect enjoyment of his antics. “If you want offensive, I’ll give you offensive,” Burnham said during the show, and offensive is exactly what the audience got. His satirical one-liners, his perfectly formulated puns, and his biting lyrics were all present in this original and quirky one-man show. Talented in singing, piano, guitar and most of all wit, Burnham is guaranteed to make audiences laugh.

Burnham also feels deeply connected to his fan base. He stays after the show at every leg of his tour to meet the fans that allow him to do what he loves. He’s sincere and eccentric, intelligent and vulgar. Burnham is a plethora of adjectives but only one of them truly matters: he is hysterically funny. Bo Burnham is worth watching, whether it is via the Internet, at live comedy show or in one of his upcoming films.