Photo courtesy of haha.com
By Gabby Tucciarone
Robert Pickering, otherwise known as Bo Burnham, is a singer-songwriter, poet and renowned comedian. He is known for being provocative and satirical in his work. This past year, he announced his 2015 tour, which is currently in full swing. At almost every place he performs, the shows are practically sold out within seconds. It’s clear that his fans have been very anxious to see him.
Burnham’s career began in 2006 when his YouTube videos gained popularity. As a result of this YouTube fame, he was able to release his first album “Bo Fo Sho” in 2008, which only included six songs. A year later, for the first time in his life, he went on tour and released “Bo Burnham” as his second album. Most songs on this second album were taped from live shows and performances. Brian Logan, a writer for The Guardian, saw one of those shows live and exclaimed, “The only flaw in his set, is that you may not laugh so much as find yourself punchdrunk on it’s brilliance.” After his second album, Burnham’s popularity grew exponentially from positive reviews like Mr. Logan’s. After he started doing more live stand up shows his popularity exploded through social media and he even was able to have his third album, “Words, Words, Words,” which charted on four different Billboards and placed first for the Billboard Comedy chart. From these awards, positive reviews and media buzz, he was able to go on his “Words, Words, Words” tour at the age of twenty in 2010. “Words, Words, Words” also landed him a half-hour Comedy Central special, making him the youngest comedian to have ever been featured with a stand up special.
It is clear that Burnham was extremely busy, producing four albums and going on three tours. However, he became most known for his fourth time on tour which was named “What.” During his fourth tour, he videotaped his performance at the House of Blues in Boston for his movie with Netflix. This movie deal made him the youngest comedian ever to partner with Netflix. This was the first time in Burnham’s career where he was able to make a movie out of one of his stand-up performances; this was an extremely risky movie for Burnham. Thankfully, his movie was given positive feedback worldwide. Ben Williams, comedian critic for Time Out London, commended Bo’s talent, stating, “There’s layer upon layer of ridiculously smart, innovative wit at work here,” and he gave the movie five stars. This movie allowed Burnham to gain an international reputation.
Unfortunately for all of his fans, once the movie came out on Dec. 18, 2013, Burnham took a hiatus from performing. After spending around three years working on new material, he is back on tour in 2015 for the fifth time with “Make Happy.” Currently at age 25, Burnham has produced four albums and has been on tour four times. During the “Make Happy” tour, he talks about “life, death, sexuality, hypocrisy, mental illness and Pringles cans,” IMDB hinted to fans. A couple of songs have been leaked to Youtube, including, “ Lower Your Expectations” and “Straight White Man.” These songs are humorous while discussing serious topics such as race and reality.
Some of the aspects from the “Make Happy” tour that are different from his other performances are that he uses lasers, smoke machines, projectors and other types of equipment to add to his performance. Bo Burnham still brings light to more serious topics and is able to push boundaries. For example, he admits that celebrities often lie to their fans, claiming that they can help their fans through problems. He tells the audience that celebrities are for entertainment and cannot seriously save people from personal problems. By doing this, he breaks the wall between the audience and the performer. This topic and other more serious topics he shows during the tour furthermore exemplify his genuine respect for all of his fans. Bo Burnham is highly skilled at balancing the perfect amount of comedy and seriousness.
Burnham’s tour will come to an end soon. He has performed throughout the nation and even stopped near Westchester on Dec. 11 to perform at the Capitol Theatre in Port Chester. During this performance, he taped footage for his new stand up movie with Netflix. The tour will end on Jan. 30 in a performance at the Joint at Hard Rock. After this tour, Burnham and Netflix will be releasing another movie. If his past successes hold true, it will be well worth the wait.