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Saturday, June 10, 2023

Hidden Meaning of Bo Burnham’s Netflix Special “Inside”

The COVID pandemic has brought us a lot of interesting content like celebs live streaming concerts from their bedrooms, readings scripts, and now there’s a whole entire Netflix special about a deeply depressed man stuck inside his house. Stand-up comedian Bo Burnham has spent over a year and single-handedly created an hour and a half music/comedy show exploring issues so deep and personal he deserves an award.

Burnham started his career all the way back in 2006, went through a lot of live shows over the years, became one of the most popular stand-up comedians, and then dropped everything at the peak of his fame. His mental health hit the ATL, or the all-time low, to the point where he started getting panic attacks right at the concerts. So Bo decided to take a long hiatus during which he worked on his issues and was ready to return to live performances in 2020. But you know that 2020 was basically dead in terms of live shows, so Bo said “screw it” and started working on his show Inside. His new songs are still full of satire and irony, but those of us who’ve been “inside” for two years will probably be crying-laughing.

The show has layers upon layers, and the perfect illustration for this is the Unpaid Intern song, where Bo sings a quick funky song, then starts reacting to it, you know, as they do it on the internet. After the first reaction finished, he immediately starts reacting to the reaction, and the bit goes on and on. During this masterfully crafted cacophony, the story of exploitation turns into a truth bomb about using self-deprecating rhetoric as a defense mechanism against other people’s criticism. The format of this bit helps us understand what’s going on, but some of his other scenes have more layers than you may think.

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