Welcome to Culture Crash, where we examine American culture. What’s new and old in books, film, and entertainment
Bo Burnham is a comedian of the millennial generation. As someone who was in high school back in 2007 and 2008, I actually grew up watching Bo Burnham’s comedy with my friends on YouTube. As he aged, we all aged, and he started making Netflix specials and directed the film Eighth Grade.
One of the fascinating things about Burnham has been watching him conquer the YouTube world and then almost fully reject it. In his 2016 comedy special Make Happy, Burnham talked at length about the dangers of social media, calling it “prison,” and urging viewers to live their lives without an audience. And then he, for the most part, followed his own advice, largely abandoning his Twitter profile as well as his YouTube account.
Then, a few weeks ago, Burnham announced a new comedy special, which has since launched on Netflix. It’s called Inside and Burnham wrote, performed, filmed and edited it himself in one room during the COVID-19 pandemic. The special is unlike any other comedy special I can recall in that he is literally performing without an audience.
Inside is equal parts hilarious and heartbreaking, which I know sounds strange for a so-called comedy special, but, well, welcome to 2021. Burnham talks about his anxiety and depression and he even uses his platform to atone for some of the offensive things he said back in the 2000s on his YouTube page.
Again, following the arc of so many millennials, Burham has found himself emphasizing mental health support and wanting to change the world for the better. Burham’s journey to Inside has been long and successful, but Inside sees him perform at his most vulnerable, and arguably at his best. It’s definitely worth watching for a lot of laughs and a lot of introspection.
Inside is now streaming on Netflix.
I’m Evan Rook