Bo Burnham Biography & Facts
Robert Pickering "Bo" Burnham (born 1990) is an American comedian, musician, and filmmaker. His work often combines elements of musical, sketch, and stand-up comedy with filmmaking. His comedy special Inside (2021) and the coming-of-age film Eighth Grade (2018) have received critical acclaim.
Burnham gained notability in the early 2010s for his satirical and subversive stand up and musical comedy, following early success on YouTube. He released four comedy albums between 2008 and 2013 on Comedy Central Records, produced three comedy specials—Words, Words, Words (2010), what. (2013), and Make Happy (2016)—and created the 2013 MTV mockumentary series Zach Stone Is Gonna Be Famous. He announced a career shift in 2016 and subsequently wrote and directed the critically acclaimed film Eighth Grade, released in 2018. As a filmmaker, he also directs live comedy specials. In 2020, he starred in the Academy Award-winning comedy thriller film Promising Young Woman.
His fourth special, Inside, was released on Netflix in 2021 and received widespread acclaim; it was nominated in six categories at the 73rd Emmy Awards, winning three: Outstanding Directing for a Variety Special, Outstanding Music Direction, and Outstanding Writing for a Variety Special. Inside was also nominated for 2 awards at the 64th Grammy Awards for Best Music Film and Best Song Written for Visual Media, winning the latter. Three songs from the special ("Bezos I", "All Eyes on Me", and "Welcome to the Internet") appeared on the Billboard charts and were certified gold in the United States, as was the accompanying album, Inside (The Songs).
Robert Pickering Burnham was born in 1990 in Hamilton, Massachusetts, the son of hospice nurse Patricia and construction company owner Scott Burnham. His mother's work was covered in a 2014 episode of This American Life, for which she was interviewed. He has an older sister named Samm and an older brother named Pete, both of whom work for the family's construction company.Burnham was raised Catholic and attended St. John's Preparatory School in Danvers, Massachusetts, where he received a free education due to his mother working as the school's nurse at the time. He graduated in 2008, having been on the honor roll and involved in theater and the campus ministry program. He was admitted to New York University's Tisch School of the Arts to study experimental theatre, but deferred his admission for a year to pursue a career in comedy and eventually never attended the university.
2006–2008: Beginnings on YouTube
Burnham began his career on YouTube in 2006, with his videos gaining over 600 million views as of June 2022.In December 2006, Burnham wanted to show two songs he had written to his older brother Pete, who had moved away to attend university in New York City. A friend suggested that he film himself performing the songs in his bedroom and post them on YouTube, which was then a relatively new website. His song "My Whole Family..." quickly became popular when the link to its YouTube video was shared on Break.com, soon leading to it being shared on other sites.Accompanying himself on guitar or digital piano, Burnham continued to release self-described "pubescent musical comedy" songs and videos online as his audience grew. Described in The Boston Globe as "simultaneously wholesome and disturbing, intimate in a folksy-creepy sort of way", Burnham wrote and released songs about white supremacy, Helen Keller's disabilities, homosexuality, and more. All of Burnham's home-released videos were self-recorded in and around his family's home in Hamilton, Massachusetts, mostly in his bedroom, and had an intentional "do-it-yourself [feel], almost like voyeurism".Burnham's music and performances tackle such subjects as class, race, gender, human sexuality, sex, and religion. Burnham describes his on-stage persona as a "more arrogant, stuck-up version [of] himself". When speaking with The Detroit News about his rapping, he expressed his intent to honor and respect the perspective and culture of hip-hop music.Burnham recorded a performance in London for Comedy Central's The World Stands Up in January 2008 (aired June 30), making him the youngest person to do so at the age of 17, and signed a four-record deal with Comedy Central Records. Comedy Central Records released Burnham's first EP, the six-song Bo fo Sho, as an online release-only album on June 17, 2008. Burnham's first full album, the self-titled Bo Burnham, was released on March 10, 2009.
2009–2016: Stand up and comedy specials
Burnham has performed his music in the United States, including Cobb's Comedy Club, YouTube Live in San Francisco, and Caroline's Comedy Club in New York City, and internationally in London and Montreal. In August 2010, Burnham was nominated for "Best Comedy Show" at the 2010 Edinburgh Comedy Awards after his inaugural performance (of Bo Burnham: Words, Words, Words). He instead received the "Panel Prize", a £5,000 prize for "the show or act who has most captured the comedy spirit of the 2010 Fringe".While performing at the Montreal Just for Laughs festival in 2008, Burnham met with director and producer Judd Apatow. That September, he negotiated with Universal Pictures to write and create the music for an Apatow-produced comedy film which he described as the "anti-High School Musical", although he insisted that the script is not a parody of the Disney musicals, but rather an attempt to emulate the high school he attended. Hoping to also star in the film, Burnham told Wired that he named the lead character after himself in a "not-so-subtle hint". In a March 2009 interview with Boston's Weekly Dig, he said that he was spending eight hours a day writing the music for the film and spending his evenings writing the script. Burnham's high school friend Luke Liacos was co-writing the screenplay. In an October 2010 interview with MTV, Burnham admitted that he did not know anything about the future of the project, and that it was all effectively up in the air as far as he knew.On March 3, 2009, 15 Westminster College students (members of the campus' Gay-Straight Alliance, Black Students Association, International Club, and Cultural Diversity Organization) protested his concert there that evening, due to his use of homophobic and racist terms in performances. Of the controversy, he said, "It's so ironic because gay bashers were the ones labeling me in high school. ... I try and write satire that's well-intentioned. But those intentions have to be hidden. It can't be completely clear and that's what makes it comedy." Despite the college's admission that they had booked Burnham while ignorant of his show's material, dean of students John Comerford praised the opportunities for discourse the controversy brought the school. In May 2009, viral marketing began appearing for Funny People, in which Burnham starred in an NBC sitcom called Yo Teach! In the promo, he starred opposite Jason Schw.... Discover the Bo Burnham popular books. Find the top 100 most popular Bo Burnham books.