He is white and laughs at his privileges. He made quarantine a humor song and threw us a bucket full of reality with it. “I’m not well”, says Bo Burnham looking at the camera, creating a stage where she rethinks confinement and the concerns of our generations through comedy. A genre that has been used countless times during the history of audiovisuals to make introspective journeys within our neurosis.
From humor, different directors tried to show the real world. At the time “Modern Times” by Charles Chaplin (1936), On the bowery by Lionel Rogosin (1956) or The Bicycle Thief by Vittorio De Sica (1948) were pioneers with a clear message intervened with laughter, trying to make a parallel with the world of work, human relations and capitalism. These and many other films become a reflection of our lives, in which each viewer recognizes the miserable side that surrounds him in front of the screen.
Surely, in a short time, we will also come across hundreds of audiovisual works made in quarantinewho will talk about what we live during the pandemic. Bo Burnham: INSIDE is one of them. A piece that was scripted, produced, filmed and edited by Burnham himself. A one-person show that went up to Netflix at the end of May.
Robert Pickering Burnham better known as Bo Burnham exploded in Youtube at the age of 16 when he uploaded two songs to the platform to share with his family. As the audience grew she continued to release a line of videos called “Pubescent Musical Comedy”, in which he dealt with white supremacy, sex and religion. Her musical career was growing by leaps and bounds until in 2014 she wrote a script inspired by her anxiety problems about which she would make her first film “Eighth Grade” which finally premiered in 2018.
This film is not only about the mental health of generation Z, the sexuality and the use of social networks, but rather speaks of another type of confinement: the educational institution. In both cases, isolation is for Bo Burnham a creative trigger in which he reflects on loneliness and the processes of socialization with other human beings.
It’s hard to categorize Bo Burnham: INSIDE. It is a staged musical that composes a series of monologues by comedy, expanding the drama and emotion. We see Burnham composing his songs, singing them, playing with the lighting, until he creates the expected atmosphere. Turning the camera on and off, and looking at himself in front of his computer monitor. A performance of his anxiety that many of us can instantly identify with.
“Should jokes be made at a time like this?” With this question, the director opens the game to dealing with issues related to our mental health during the longest period of confinement that we have lived through to date.
In this case, unlike any show of stand-up, where the main character and author of a monologue is on stage in front of the public, here such an audience does not exist. In this piece no laughter or applause is heard, but rather the outcome of a shot is subject to a hostile and lonely environment, where silence plays as the absolute company of the protagonist.
The landscape of the room never becomes friendly, but if it manages to create another dimension, it becomes full of possibilities. Everything that exists within this room of music and humor accumulates homemade lighting effects, costumes and a decoration made up of elements that work as a complement to an artistic show, in a messy space, where everything fits harmoniously.
In everyday life we all act and assume more or less fictitious roles, according to the circumstances. Bo Burnham: INSIDE deals with the culture of the Internet, intersperses themes typical of a generation that laughs at these personified roles. Starting with a count of clichés in Instagram uploaded by a white woman, to the explanation of how the world we live in works, along with Soko, her sock.
Bo Burnham has managed to synthesize life during the lockdown through songs that function as a parody of modernity. A spiral that starts from a critical vision of himself and his role in the world. He is not only inside a room, where he creates his own mise-en-scène, but also takes a personal introspective journey. Birthday between laughter and tears at the same time, reflects the state of mind of a person who has lived isolation in solitude under an innumerable series of privileges, misses the outside, but fears contact. He wants, more than anything in the world, to finish his audiovisual work, but he doesn’t know how he will manage his outcome.
Bo Burnham looks at the camera thanking the audience with a knife in one hand and to the next cut says: “Trying to be funny locked in a room. There is not much more to say about it. Can you be funny locked in a room? Surely yes. Beyond being another sad millennial, the comedian has managed to make an extraordinary parody about our mental health.