YouTube is littered with flavor-of-the-nanosecond memes, shaky videos of concerts with poor audio and days upon days worth of footage of people getting hit in the groin. However, the catch-all website has the unmatched ability to give anyone the chance to become an overnight star, regardless of talent level. Just ask Rebecca Black, Antoine Dodson, the “Chocolate Rain” dude and the sneezing baby panda. While still in high school, comedian/musician Bo Burnham was vaulted to Internet fame with a series of lo-fi, high-humor compositions forged in his bedroom.
Now 22 years old, Burnham’s material has grown beyond YouTube. The motivated youngster has released two albums, filmed a one-hour special (a feat that takes some respected veteran comics decades to accomplish), appeared in films such as Hall Pass and Judd Apatow’s Funny People, and currently stars in the new MTV program Zach Stone Is Gonna Be Famous (a show he co-created). Somewhere along the way, Burnham found the time to write another hour of introspective, singalongable and all-around hilarious material for another upcoming special, entitled what. Thursday night, the bludgeoning young performer treated a jam-packed Pabst Theater to an early performance of the new hour in its entirety, along with other songs that help the Internet sensation break out of his bedroom and into theaters.
Following an inspiring and uproariously funny (non-musical) opening set by Drew Lynch – whose act centered around his severe speech impediment – the decidedly young crowd was sent into a frenzy as Burnham entered to a hype-heavy pre-recorded intro song that found him lip-synching whilst shedding tear-away pants (only to reveal another pair of the same colored tear-away pants), punch-dancing and holding prolonged eye-contact with one (lucky?) audience member. As the grandiose gut-busting salutation subsided, Burnham did five minutes of pure stand-up (touching on bodily fluids and detailing his appreciation for loose women) before sitting behind the keyboard to play a song called “Sad,” which he introduced by saying, “Imagine a depressed onion cutting itself.”
Burnham alternated from seated singing to telling jokes on his feet throughout the night. In terms of musical highlights, a duet between the left and right hemispheres of the comic’s brain especially served to touch on his flare for intelligent songwriting skills. Showing he’s “so f--king deep, bro,” Burnham continued tickling the ivories and funny bones with the ballad “Hashtag Deep” as well as tongue-in-cheek atheist anthem (“Song From The Perspective Of God”) and a Justin Bieber-slamming dissection of how to write a pop song called “Repeat Stuff.”
After an indescribable exit interlude that strung together faux interactions he likely deals with since breaking out and wove in recorded music (to which Burnham provided air-accompaniment), Burnham feigned departure, only to return for a two-song encore that concluded with “Oh Bo” off Words Words Words.
The affable pianist pulled no punches in his 75-minute set, making off-color comments and biting social commentary between – and oftentimes, within – pretty and expertly arranged songs. Brows of all heights left happy after bearing witness to the odd, offensive, versatile and undeniable genius of a diamond unearthed from the pixilated rough of auto-tuned interview and (insert name of spice) challenge videos. Eat your heart out, Double Rainbow guy.