Burnham, Baby, Burnham
Bo Burnham belies his youth with smart, funny comedy and music at the Majestic Theatre.
published Friday, October 11, 2013
Dallas — Been a few years since Bo Burnham parlayed a series of internet music videos into an instant comedy career at age 18. Now those and subsequent videos have racked up 70 million views. As the youngest comedian to be tapped for a Comedy Central special, Words, Words, Words was a collection of his songs simply presented with Burnham at the keyboards.
Now 23, Burnham is moving beyond being the kid at the keyboards banging out songs with torrents of lyrics that eviscerate pop culture. He relocated from Boston to the Los Angeles area and poured himself into Zach Stone Is Gonna Be Famous, a mockumentary series for MTV that was canceled after a season. But he’s had far better luck with Egghead: Or, You Can’t Survive on Ideas Alone, a book of absurdist poetry with drawings by Chance Bone released on Oct. 1 that’s already been profiled by NPR.
At his Wednesday night show at the Majestic Theater, he was pushing the boundaries a bit more, moving his comedy music into a more theatrical presentation with staged theatrical set pieces alternating with songs. The most used technique was a voice-of-God style narrator voice with which he’d interact and sometimes duel, aided by lighting effects and taped music loops.
At times it was masterful. One terrific piece had Burnham being besieged by voices of a vapid valley girl fan, an even more vapid L.A. agent and what seemed to be taunting memories. As the piece unfurled, he took control and began seeming to direct the voices with fingerpoints, sampling and mixing them into a dizzying scratch piece. A long, overwrought intro that swung from arching self-awareness to strange slapstick (stripping off one outer pair of pants and then another) was not so successful.
The show featured a few short sessions of poetry readings from Egghead, such as “A Dog’s Poem”:
Roses are grey,
violets are another shade of grey,
let’s go chase cars!
You’re incomparable like a…
When he did the poem “Chameleon”—“I put a Chameleon on a red dildo”—the audience yelled out the last line: “He blushed.” Many of the attendees, mainly small groups in their 20s and early 30s, had copies of Egghead—a hardback book at $22 a pop. Getting an internet-bred following to buy a genuine paper book. Now that’s a fan base. He stated from stage that the book had already hit The New York Times bestseller list. Books by well-known comedians tend to have healthy sales, but that’s ridiculous… (read article)