Bo Burnham apparently dedicated a year of his life to making a stand-up special, which personally I find to be an incredibly disappointing reality. The reason I'm not impressed is because essentially what Bo did was make a series of YouTube-style music videos and called it a Netflix Comedy Special... not exactly what I'm looking for in comedy, especially considering the comedy is primarily only in the first half of the special and the rest is just really sad. Like literally, sad. As in it makes you feel sad. You get me?
So it starts out with Bo being relatively optimistic and motivated to do the show. He looks like a total mess from the get go, but at least he's trying. As the show goes on, a few laughs happen and it's somewhat relatable. As his hair grows he keeps talking about how long it has been since he started the special. Over and over again, he complains that he still hasn't finished the special.
The show feels a lot like an indie doc*mentary. He films himself brushing his teeth, sitting around, watching footage of himself... you know, boring and lame stuff that doesn't need to be in a comedy special, and literally no one signed up to watch. There's multiple parts of it where he literally films himself during the editing process, so I'm sitting there thinking "Oh good. Now we can mentally go through the stress of a work environment with him instead of I donno... hearing jokes?"
At some point he apologizes for dressing of as Aladdin when he was younger which I suppose is super bad? God forbid you dress up as a character from another culture, should we also be made at people from other countries dressing up as cowboys? *gasp* Oh wait no, we wouldn't be upset because we have enormous double standards and endless unjust self-loathing. Gotcha.
Bo goes on to talk about how he's done a lot of things he's embarrassed by and that he has a "closet" full of things that are bad but makes it clear that all the bad stuff is legal... you know, really awkward conversation/song to make.
I was watching comedians talk about performing on stage some time ago, and they pointed out that som*thing that is really important to do is never make your audience feel uncomfortable. Bo completely disregarded that advice and literally filmed himself, without explanation, breaking down crying, he also filmed himself throwing a temper tantrum and appearing to get violent because he couldn't say what he wanted to say without messing up. So? What's your goal here Bo? You trying to scare people? You trying to be "human" and scream "Look everyone I'm deep! I exist guys! I have a soul and I'm special and I want to feel special please say I'm important!"
Bo completely disregarded the feelings of his audience (relatable), and focused only on his own needs, what he wanted to do. At some point it seemed he quite literally gave up on the special and just coasted the rest of the time by filming his downward spiral and my theory is, had he shaved his face and cut his hair the whole time, he might have felt more like himself, but instead he kept filming himself looking like a mess, and presenting himself as people rarely saw him. Due to that unfamiliar face staring back at him he lost his identity and began to act how he looked. When all you're doing is looking at someone you don't even identify with due to how messy you've let yourself become, you're possibly going to reflect that in your behavior. Some time ago I made meltdown videos intentionally that were extensively comedic... but, Bo? There was almost no comedy in his meltdowns. It seemed like he was just trying to beg for sympathy rather than actually entertain people.
A lot of this kinda felt like Jim Carrey's darker side after he filmed "Man on The Moon". Jim had an existential crisis after making that film and basically lost the person everyone loves because like many entertainers in his position, he had big ideas of himself and at some point realized it was all meaningless. Well guess what guys? That's life. So either keep entertaining people pointlessly, or get off the stage because some people want to continue living happy and don't want the people who are supposed to entertain them to be a total buzz-ender and make their lives more difficult as a result.
Bo goes on and on about how he's an entertainer but yet fails to think about the emotional state of the people watching him. He doesn't seem to care at all that he's not making people laugh the whole second section of his special, it's just a one-man soap opera that is the apparent result of self-isolation and self-pity.
But you should know, I love Bo Burnham's other specials, you know, when he actually talked about ANYTHING outside his own downward spiral. When Bo is talking about society, gender, politics, the media and so fourth, I'm entertained because it is relatable and funny. But when you capture your audience in a way that they feel they are stuck in a room with you and can't escape... that just feels weird and is a huge bummer.
There was one point where Bo does a guitar piece in front of an artificial campfire with a projected outdoor background and I have to say, it's been a while since I've been that bored watching a comedy special. There were consistently no jokes, there was often pointlessly big words to establish "Hey guys, I'm smart, I looked up words in a dictionary." which of course makes it even less widely-relatable or watchable.
If you do a comedy special, you got to respect your audience and try to think about what would make them happy, in this way, Bo completely and utterly drove the point of a special into the ground.
If I could only rate the first half, I'd give him probably a five star rating. But the second half destroyed the whole special.
"All is well that ends well." and that ended miserably.