Bo Burnham

December 19, 2013

I am a comedian named Bo Burnham. My new special "what." is out for free on YouTube/Netflix. AMA


You can watch my new special for free here.

edit: Thanks for all the thoughtful questions. Really enjoyed doing this! Happy Holidays!

Who's your favorite stand-up comedian?

Too many to pick! Americans: George Carlin, Steve Martin, Andy Kaufman, Demetri Martin, John Mulaney, Hannibal Buress, Moshe Kasher, Pete Holmes, Rory Scovel. Jon Dore (Canadian). Non-Americans: Tim Minchin, Bill Bailey, Maeve Higgins, Josie Long, Hans Teeuwen, Claudia O'Doherty, Sam Simmons, Stewart Lee.

You can just say Carlos Mencia and cover everyone at once!


Do you have trouble getting respect in the comedy community because you made it at such a young age rather than grinding it out for years, "paying your dues?"

You know that was something I was really worried about when I started because if I had been grinding it out on the comedy scene for 15 years and some little kid had showed up and had an audience sort of fall into his lap out of nowhere, I would've been pretty annoyed. But I've found, across the board, that comedians have been very respectful and kind to me. And that seems to stem from the fact that they are just respectful and kind people in general. Comedians get a bad rap for being dark and anti-social I think.

It probably helps that your humor is intelligent. I'm always impressed by your material.

Thanks, man. I think maybe it also helps that stand-up comedy is inherently less competitive than other stuff. I never felt like I was stealing anyone's fans as much as I was introducing some younger people to comedy who will eventually find tons of other comedians that they love.

Hey Bo, on your special when you told the video editor joke and then it cut away (which I thought was brilliant),what did you say to the audience between setting up the editor joke and when the video picks back up?

Glad you dug that bit! Wasn't sure how it would play. At the taping, right after the "video editor's are so fucking-" I think I said, "and then we'll cut and, uh, just forget it this joke isn't for you." I could've spent time explaining it but I was worried that that would kill the momentum.

You had to hear that joke a total of three times to understand it?

YEAH FUCK YOU, RETARD!!! (am i internetting right??)

"From The Perspective of God" is my favorite song from the new special, especially because it departs from the cynicism and jokes to become quite touchingly introspective towards the end. Did you set out to write that type of song, or did it start in the vein of "Rant" and somehow develop differently?

So glad you liked it. Means a lot. I just really liked the idea of God as being sort of quiet and annoyed. God rolling his eyes or making slightly catty and dismissive remarks was just instantly fun and felt right. It was only after I had written that song that I realized that the song was just me imagining what I would do if I was God. Which I like as a concept even if it wasn't a conscious concept on my part. I think it's interesting (even if you don't believe, as I don't) to put yourself in His shoes.

Your screenplay, "Gay Kid and Fat Chick", was near the top of the "Black List" of the best unproduced screenplays in Hollywood. Is that the script you'd been working on with Judd Apatow? Can you tell us a little bit about the movie, and what the next steps are going to be?

Also: Season 2 of Zach Stone? Please?

Lastly, do you #StandWithPhil?

"Gay Kid and Fat Chick" is a different script than the Judd one (which has been dead for a while now). GK&FC is a weird bullying story about a (duh) overweight girl and a gay kid who are best friends in high school and decide to dress up and beat the fuck out of "mean" people at their school. Not sure what's going to happen with it, yet. My fingers are crossed. I won't act in it, which is nice. I'd really love to make something that doesn't involve my stupid face.

Also: MTV cancelled Zach Stone, unfortunately. But who knows what will happen in the future?

Lastly, fuck a duck.

Any chance Zach Stone gets on netflix?

Not sure. Viacom (the company that owns MTV) doesn't seem to be getting along with Netflix lately.



How long did it take you to memorize your entire performance for "what."?

The show took about 3 years to write and perfect. The "memorizing" sort of happens during the writing for me.

3 years seems like a long time. Is that normal for an hour long show?

Not nowadays, no. Louis CK started turning over an hour a year and then it was like every comedian felt like they needed to do that. Louis is brilliant and prolific and that process works for him. But I needed more time. The Beatles could churn out two brilliant albums a year but Radiohead needed a few years in between. (YES I AM RADIOHEAD AND LOUIS CK IS THE BEATLES).

Louis started doing that after he met George Carlin. Carlin is the one who way back in the 70's decided to throw out every joke at the end of the year and start again. He talks about it at length at the Carlin memorial.

Yes! Good point. But Louis doing it had this ripple effect on all other comics it felt like.


My mother says she never thought so, but I think she's lying. I am not gay. It doesn't offend me or hurt me if people think I am so I keep it ambiguous on stage.

Hey Bo, I just wanted to say that when we were both in Little League Tony hit me directly in the spine with a fastball, then my next at-bat you hit me in the exact same spot. You guys were flamethrowers and I was in 4th grade. So fuck you.

Dude, I think Tony is in jail now. Legitimately. So talk shit to me all you want but I'd be careful throwing Tony's name around like that.watchyourself

What is your actual relationship with your dad? In many of your comedies you seem to bash on him, but I've always been curious of how your true relationship with him is like?

My father is amazing and obscenely supportive. I think a lot of my act, for me, is sort of a parody of being a performer or an "artist" so I always liked that the subtext of the show was just me filling a dad-shaped hole in my heart. I'm also very weary of attention and I don't want to include my loved ones in it. I signed up for something, and I don't quite know what it is, but I know that they didn't sign up for it and I don't want to drag them into it. I know that sounds a bit dramatic but I'm just trying to play it safe.

If you could do a collab with any artist who would it be?

I'd love to write a musical and if I did that, I'd love to collaborate with someone who was a great composer/orchestrator so that I could contribute melodically and lyrically. All of the artists that I love, I probably wouldn't want to collaborate with. The person I'd most want to collaborate with isn't the person I'm the biggest fan of, but the person who would compliment me the most creatively. He or she is out there somewhere I'm sure. Hope this isn't sounding like a cop-out.

It doesn't sound like a cop-out at all, I think you should work with the south park guys.

That's actually a great example because Trey and Matt found Robert Lopez to collaborate with them on Book of Mormon. I feel like I would need someone like that as I am very limited musically.

The fact that you consider yourself limited musically is weird to me. I think you're pretty damn great at what you do.

Thanks. I'm not trying to be overly-humble, it's just I don't have enough musical firepower to do a good MUSICAL by myself. I would need someone who has studied composition and orchestration. I can't read or write music.

I feel like your vocals have gotten much better since Comedy Central Presents, have you received vocal training since the beginning?

hahah thanks. I don't have a great voice but I've been trying to learn to control it better on stage. Haven't taken vocal training but would love to at some point.

Are we going to see a lot more of the serious satire like Art is Dead, God's Perspective, and Repeat Stuff? Personally, this is some of my favorite comedy that you perform.

Oh thanks man. Serious satire sounds a little like an oxymoron but I know what you mean. Not sure really. If there's something I want to talk about, I'll do it. But I'm at the point now where the tank is empty and I just need to bang my head against a wall for a few months.

What was your first sexual experience like?

"Was it good for you?" "Yes." "Who are you by the way?" "The universe."

I've never been this early to an AMA before oh god

What's your favorite type of cheese?

Cheese makes my stomach hurt. Do I get an award for most pussy answer ever on an AMA?

This might sound like a random question, but was the color for effect? oh wait, nevermind...

what inspired We Think We Know You?

The biggest danger, for me, with making yourself your act is that a lot of people with think they know you for better or worse. That's an ongoing struggle with me and it can get really trippy sometimes. I try to be strong about it and assure myself that only my close friends and family can really pass judgement on me personally, but it's impossible to not let it get to you. So that bit was just me addressing that problem I guess. It's not a perfect bit and there's probably plenty of holes to be poked in it, but it came from an honest place so it felt like the right thing to do.

Just finished watching the show twice in a row and couldn't help but think about how long it must have taken to memorize the hand movements for that.

I was wondering, given how long it must take to produce a bit like that, do you plan on tweaking anything as time goes on, or do you see it as "perfect" by the time you actually perform it on stage?

That bit went through four or five drafts before it was done. The studio time took so long that by the time the track was finished, I already knew the moves.

He's said on Pete Holmes's podcast that it's usually his girlfriend that helps him with his vines.

Yes. She has to deal with my as a person and in exchange she gets to occasionally throw a box of Cheez-Its at my face.

Nice try Bo's girlfriend.


Gillian Jacobs recently tweeted about your new special (it's fantastic BTW) mentioning you as a "friend". As a big Community and Bo (and Boogie2988 who tweeted your twitter) fan, I'm curious as to how you know her. Thanks for the AMA and keep being weirdly awesome and awesomely weird!

Edit: Also Joe Bereta, he's awesome.

I am good friends with Gillian's boyfriend so I know her through him. She's incredibly nice, down-to-earth, everything you would hope she'd be. And the YouTube community has always been incredibly supportive of me. I hadn't talked to Boogie before this special came out but I'd been a fan of his.

what was the most fun episode of zac stone to film?

The whole experience was amazing but I think I had the most fun shooting the diner scenes in the "Zach Stone is Gonna Be an Actor" episode. Nelson Franklin, who played the director, had my dying the whole day.

Did you get your dying back at the end of the day?

Well done. Will not edit.

You've got a fantastic book, a new special, and had one of the most creative pieces of television I've seen in the longest time. What's next for you? How long does it usually take you to compile a whole show?

Thanks so much! So glad you liked all that stuff. Not exactly sure what I'm going to do next. I'd like to write more and try to cultivate the skills that don't have to do with my stupid face. I'm aware that at any point people could stop wanting to see it and I want to be able to disappear and still work without worrying about my "brand" or "celebrity." "what." took me three years to make and I have no idea when I'll have another show written. Since I would want to do something different with the next one, it's very hard to predict.


I found you on the internet when you were young (and I was slightly younger); I used to sing your songs at bonfires, and it was a hit. Life happened and I didn't follow you as much as I should have, until Zach Stone and Egghead started being a thing (things, I guess). After reading excerpts from Egghead, I found Words Words Words and I loved it. Art is Dead is just... fuck. Knowing how you feel about Carlin from the beginning of Egghead makes the line about him in Art is Dead a bit more powerful. It makes me sad but I haven't listened to anything else in like three days now.

And then I saw what., which shattered all of my expectations. Self-aware and hilarious is hard to do, but by god you did it.

I don't have a question. I just wanted to thank you for all the entertainment. So yeah; thank you.

Wow! Thanks so much David (I assume that's your name). That really truly means a lot. Carlin is the best and I'll do my best to keep making stuff that you'll dig. Thanks again!

Bo every time I listen to "Bo Fo Sho" it reminds me of a buddy who passed away a few years ago. It was his favorite and I smile every time. Thank you for the laughs and keep being awesome.

So sorry for your loss. I'm so happy that my stupid little song could remind you of good times with him. Thanks for sharing.

Why are you so self-deprecating about everything?

Not meaning to be. I mean specifically, "Bo Fo Sho" is a stupid little song if there ever was one.

Hey Bo! The finale of 'what.' has some dramatic moments regarding meeting ignorant fans and agents. How do you deal with them in real life?

It wasn't as much ignorant "fans" for me as much as people in general who think they know that I'm an asshole cause of hearsay or girls that ignored me doing a 180. That bit, though part of my act, is part of me dealing with it in real life in a way. But I'm sure you have people in your life who's perception of you you don't much care for. I'm still learning how to deal with it. And I'm also not putting it all on them, I'm sure I was a bit of a dick when I was in high school (I certainly can't stand by everything I said or did at 16). I avoided the agents by working with ones that "got" what I did and are onboard with what I want to do.

Would you ever do another tv show, or is Zach Stone the last one you'll ever do?

I'd love to do another one. Even though it was cancelled, I felt like a got to make a complete "thing" with ZS. My favorite show ever (uk office) is only 14 episodes.

Did you take a lot of drama classes in high school? In what. there's such theatricality it's a very special thing to watch.

Yeah I really only did theatre in high school. And I was getting ready to enroll at the Experimental Theatre Wing of NYU before I dropped out to do comedy. I've always loved the physical and technical aspects of theatre. So glad you liked those things in what.!

What's the most awkward fan encounter you can remember?

In a Chicago hotel in 2009, a fan blew me from the ceiling for the whole night.

You push the envelope with lots of your jokes about women. I think you're providing commentary on a world that devalues and oppresses women but others would disagree--not all the hos know Bo's a feminist, so to speak.

Are you a feminist? Why or why not?

I don't like calling myself a "feminist" only because I don't think I've done anything active enough to call myself one. It'd be like calling myself a civil rights activist just because I'm not racist. I do think that stand-up comedy in general heavily favors masculinity and so I like to act a little feminine onstage.

Why did you decide to release your special "what." for free?

It took so long to make and it was something different than I've done before, so I really just wanted it to be as easy to find and watch as possible. Also, if I do it myself, I don't have to take any notes on what to cut or keep. Within two hours of releasing it, I knew I'd made the right choice.

What is your least favorite dipping sauce?


Excuse me?

I don't know what to believe..

runs away

Are you happy with your life?

Very. I feel so lucky that it often panics me.

Bo, how do other comedians respond to you doing more serious songs during your advertised comedic performances?

Not sure. I never really performed parts of this new show in comedy clubs because I wanted to try to work on the show as a whole rather than break it into ten minute chunks. I'm friends with a lot of comedians, but we don't talk about material. Most comedians I know don't watch a lot of other comedy.

Would you ever consider doing a collaboration with George Watsky?

We talked about it but we never really found the time. I also haven't really "rapped" in a while. At a certain point I felt like I had nothing left to say in that medium. But perhaps the rap bug will bite again!

I dont have a question for you but this is the first time that I've known about an AMA as it was happening.. and it's someone I enjoy. DAMNIT.

Why damnit my sweet brochick?

Hey, Bo! Firstly I want to say thank you so much for all of your hard work from the YouTube days up to today. I saw 'Words, Words, Words' when you toured and 'What.' a couple of days ago and I loved every minute of both!

Onto my question: Your work seems to challenge a lot of the traditional conventions of stand-up, with the inclusion of songs like 'Art is Dead', among others. Not only including these songs, but changing the tone of your shows seamlessly

I feel like 'What.' had a few more of those moments that made me stop and think about the material. Particularly 'From God's Perspective', 'We Think We Know You' and 'Left Brain, Right Brain'. Are songs/routines like these a conscious decision to play with the audience's expectations? Do you consider them an essential component to keep the audience thinking critically? Are they there to give the audience a better look at you as a person rather than your on stage persona? Am I over-thinking this?

Well I'm usually over-thinking things so we're probably in the same boat. Comedy is very strange to me and I don't fully understand it's purpose or function (hence "what."). And furthermore, I am very confused how comedy relates to me, and how it helps or hurts me, and how the audience relates to me. Are they my friends? My customers? Something in between? It's all very strange and this show wasn't meant to give answers to the audience as much as it was meant to let the audience in on those questions if that makes sense. I wish we could get coffee and talk about this because it's a long conversation for me. Thanks for the questions and hope this answered some of them.

Do you ever regret not going to college?

Not really, but I have been missing learning and am looking into maybe taking some music and literature classes next year.

I just graduated with an English degree. I don't necessarily want to do anything with it specifically, but I love being well-read. I think there's a lot to be said for it.

Definitely. I wish I was better read.

What do you want for Christmas?

I don't need anything as long as I have my family, friends, millions of dollars, unlimited pussy.

Have you considered ever getting back into routinely uploading songs to youtube? Or is that a thing of the past? More Bo would be nice.

The reason I didn't for the last three years is because I wanted to make the whole show first. When I post songs online, then they don't play well live anymore (people know them so they don't laugh). And I love performing live. So I probably won't return to posting things regularly, but when I do have stuff, and it makes sense, I'll post it.

Hey Bo! Been a fan since the early youtube days. Needless to say, I think you’re an absolute genius. 1. Do you consider yourself a musician first, or comedian?

  1. Do you enjoy doing standup? Would you ever consider writing and performing an entire standup set?

  2. Any advice for young, aspiring comedians?

  3. Who are your comedic inspirations?

  4. Do you feel your massive ego, combined with your ever expanding brain and enormous penis size, will make you feel the need to break out of comedy and be taken more seriously? Maybe in the porn industry?

Thanks poon slayer! I definitely consider myself a comedian first.

  1. I love doing standup. Doing a whole standup set would mean consciously choosing not to do other stuff. And I really like being able to do whatever I want -- if I feel like doing a joke here or a poem here or a song here.
  2. Watch a lot of comedy. Figure out why you like the stuff you like. Then write and write and hate what you write and write something better. It's also, I think, very important to ground your happiness in your own perception of your work rather than other's perception of it. It's very hard to do, and I haven't fully figured it out, but if you put your happiness in the opinions of strangers, shit will get tough quicker.
  3. So many. I listed a bunch of comedians in an answer further up the page. I am a huge fan of comedy and am constantly blown away with others work.
  4. Well 3/4 questions ain't bad hahaha

What do microphones/Satan taste like?


Dude, you are like one of my absolute biggest idols. I introduced you in my high school and tons of people love you! I wanted to know 3 things.

1: Favorite/Least favorite bit from what?

2: Why netflix/youtube for what. instead of CC?

3: What are the most common missed/misunderstood inside jokes hidden in your song?

Thanks again!!

Thanks for sharing my stuff with people. Glad you like it.

  1. By the end, the opening was my least favorite because I had performed it so many fucking times and was ready to shoot it in the head. My favorite would change night to night I think.
  2. I love CC but wanted to put this out without having to answer to notes or without the show being cut down to 42 minutes and then broken into chunks with commercials shoved in between. And when it's on COMEDY central, people might get to the more serious parts and be pissed -- but since I'm putting it out myself, it comes with much less labeling.
  3. No idea! In the left/right brain bit I'm called patient 24602 because in Les Mis Jean Valjean is 24601. Hope some people caught that.

Thank YOU!

What made you want to stray away from the stereotypical comedy show and do your own style?

It was sort of natural just because I always did theatre. Also I wasn't a great storyteller like a lot of other comedians. There's a lot of comedians outside the united states that use lights and sound and props to make a more "theatrical comedy." People like Bill Bailey and Sam Simmons. I just copy them and then come to america and pass it off as original :)

Who's your favorite music artist?

Radiohead, The Beatles, Animal Collective, Kanye, Paul Simon, Burial.

Did you ever see animal collective live? I saw their most recent show at he wiltern and it was awesome. And i wasnt even on drugs. Probably.

Yeah I saw their latest tour at the Hollywood Bowl. I was OBSESSED with Centipede Hz. Lot of people didn't dig the album but I couldn't stop listening to it.

describe your morning routine in extreme detail.

Wake up on a beach in a wet suit. Hans Zimmer music blares in the sky. whhhhhaaaaaaaa??

Do you get angry at hecklers, or is it entertaining for you to deal with them?

It's fun sometimes. My problem lately is that there's a compilation video on youtube of me coming back to hecklers that has a decent amount of views. So I have people come to the shows excited to heckle me. And if I'm somehow able to spin the heckle into something entertaining for the audience, the heckler then feels like they contributed to the show. Rather than they almost sabotaged the show and I was able to save it (usually barely). It's fun sometimes but it's always a fucking wrench in the gears.

Hi Bo,

I love you're stuff and recently went to see you perform in Guildford, UK.

I don't know if you noticed but my girlfriend and I arrived 10 minutes late. It was unavoidable due to me having a terrible car.

If on the off-chance you see this comment I would like to apologise.

No problem dude! I didn't notice. Thanks for coming!

In the special at the end of "I fuck sluts" you nodded and waved to someone who must have been sitting in the balcony seats. Was it your girlfriend?

hahaha no that was just someone who made a weird noise. My girlfriend makes weird noises too, though.

Does the price reflect the quality?

That's for you to decide.

First, I want to thank you for getting me through a really tough time in my life. This past year has sucked 16 bags of dicks (usually at all at the same time) and I found your shows were some of the very few things that made me laugh. Pretty sure I've thanked you for this before, but I don't think my gratitude can be stated enough. Second, "what." is absolutely fantastic. You did a phenomenal job. Parts of it really made me stop and think about things, like when you said something along the lines of, "Have you considered that maybe God doesn't believe in you?" I found myself still contemplating that one 10 minutes later; I even had to pause the show for a bit. Major respect for being able to successfully mindfuck me for a bit.

PS - "You're incomparable, like a" is clever as fuck and it pisses me off because it's so witty, fuck you (with love)

Thanks so much for this. Really sorry that this year has sucked so bad. Glad that my stuff could cheer you up -- a lot other comedy has gotten me through rough times too.

Why the fuck would you give away your special for free????????????


Tell me you love me

i love you.

i love you.


Hi Bo! I enjoyed having you spit water over me at the beginning of your show at Edinburgh this year, and I loved watching it all over again on youtube.

Will we be catching you at the Edinburgh Fringe again next year?

I'd love to go back to see shows, but I can almost guarantee that I won't have a new show ready by August (or probably the August after that). Thanks for coming! Hope you're dry now!

Hey Bo!

Who does the voices of the "fans" from the final bit? The ones you mime a remix to and end the show on?

Loved the special!

Me! All my voices. So glad you dug the special.

Hey Bo, just wanted to say FUCK YOU. Your absolutely brilliant. Kept me in my car listening to the entire show.

Thanks! It's a very visual show, so next time you're in the car, make sure to bring your laptop so you can get the full experience while you crash into a telephone pole.

If only I had caught this AMA earlier. In the off chance that you do read this, I just wanted to let you know that I watched your special last night and thought it was one of the most impressive standup routines I've seen in some time. I know a lot of people like to criticize your humor for being too crass, but I think there's something in the special truly for everyone. You seem to be an incredibly bright guy, and that reflects itself in some of the jokes you make, which I could tell in the special went way over the heads of a lot of people in the audience. Anyhow, I just wanted to say keep up the good work.

THANK YOU! I really appreciate it. Means a lot.

Being a young comedian do you think you will evolve away from the musical comedy or will you stay with it until you are an old angry man?

No idea. I try not to worry about where I'm going and just focus on what I'm doing. Who knows? :)

Your "this is my jam" vine and the "dear glove compartment" one make me laugh every single time. Literally. Every. Single. Time.

hahaha thanks! Your username made me laugh this time and I will let you know if it makes me laugh the next time I think about it.

hahaha thanks! Your username made me laugh this time and I will let you know if it makes me laugh the next time I think about it.

it did!

Comments buried. If I were gay I'd be hot for you. Ok who am I kidding...

Seriously though I want to know... Who is your favorite philosopher and/or realm of thought?

Being reading a lot of David Foster Wallace lately and he's blown my fucking mind wide open.

edit: not technically a philosopher I guess.

Hi, Bo. Keep being funny. That is all. No question.

No answer. wait, shit.

What is the subject you give the least fucks about?



Loved Cars 2 though.

Is "Bo" short for something?

yes Robert!

Will you do a collab track with Childish Gambino?

I enjoy watching/listening to Donald. He's doing his own thing and I don't see how I would fit into it. I think he's trying to get away from gimmicky/punny punchline rap, which I respect.

Years ago, you posted a picture of yourself on Twitter and a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend who is freakishly obsessed with you was able to recognize which hotel you were staying in from something in the background.

This crazy girl ended up calling the hotel and sending room service to you. I'm thinking a pickle was involved.

Do you remember this? Were you freaked out? Or is this an extremely common occurrence?

Definitely not common. I don't remember a pickle but one time someone found out what room I was staying in and pounded on the door at 2am and ran away. I was 18 and in Arizona by myself and that scared the fuck out of me. Sending a pickle for afar is pretty harmless.

Would you consider doing a collaborative song with Jon Lajoie?

Sure! He's so funny and a very nice guy in real life.

Hey Bo, big fan and just finished watching what. Do you produce all the music in your shows and how extensively do you work with other musical artists? "Bo, oh my god" blew me away at the end.

I produced all the tracks for "what." with this guy Steve Rossiter who has a little studio in his house in the Bronx. He was a huge help. He's amazing and cheap!

I just want to thank you for being you, and for doing such awesome work.

Will you ever record your old songs in studio to release them, or are they long forgotten in favor for your future self?

Either way; keep up the good work.


I'm not gonna give you love

just 'cause I know that you want me to.

If you want love

then the love is gonna come from you.

-- that almost made me cry.

Usually once I put out material, I'm done with it. But who nows? I try to just keep looking forward. Glad you dug the God song.

Will you have my children

Yes drop them off at 9.

What was your first gig ever? How did it feel? Were you hopeful that it would get this far?

BTW, I love your stuff!

First gig was opening for Frank Santos the X-rated hypnotist. RIP! And had no idea.

Was there ever a joke that someone took such offense to you actually regret telling it?

No but there are certain jokes that I am assume hurt certain people and I wish I hadn't said them.

Why did you want to do before you decided to be a comedian

I thought I wanted to be a physicist in high school until I learned that there was much more math than philosophy in it. I assumed I would just sit around all day and think.

Do you enjoy making your comedy challenging for the audience. Is it better to get a quick laugh, or wait for the audience to figure it out?

I don't consciously try to make things difficult as much as I try to make them a little different. I like all kinds of laughs. I tried to make a show that elicit groans, guffaws, chuckles, boos.

Do you like how you have progressed as a comedian? Also, do you enjoy doing comedy or are you contracted to do more?

I'm happy with what I'm doing. I try not to focus on how I've changed. I just try to focus on what I'm doing now. For me, if I thought too much about my "journey" I think I would spin out and go a little crazy. And I love comedy and would definitely walk away if I started to hate it (i hope).

How did you start off becoming a comedian?

I posted silly songs that I had written in high school on YouTube and then they kind of "went viral" as they say. Then, since I had done theatre, I tried doing them live and then just kept going from there.



I saw you saw Matilda a few months ago! What did you think of it?

Amazing. I knew that I would love Minchin's lyrics/music but I didn't expect to like the direction/performances just as much.

Where was this preformed?

The Regency Ballroom in San Francisco.

The first time I saw your act was on my way to football practice with a friend for a bowl game, and ever since then I've given you great praise. Thanks for being so funny, and all of your subtle jokes are the ones that make me laugh the most.

Thanks dude! Glad you like it. Hope you won the bowl.

How was your day?

Good! Just been sitting at home doing this. You?

Hey Bo, serious question. Do you feel because you have such a large audience you have any sort of obligation to maybe subtly teach a lesson somewhere in your content? Or is your sole purpose to pursue your passion and entertain? Can both be done simultaneously?

I think both can be done simultaneously. With my younger female fans, I felt sort of obligated to write "Repeat Stuff" because it was about a system that I felt like was being very predatory.

Not sure if this was asked already. Was wondering why "Nerds" wasn't in the new special? Love all of your work man, keep it up!

It was never a song that I thought should be in the live show of "what." I included the studio version on the CD though. Thanks and I'll try!

Hey in one of your specials I think you said you were dying inside. Are you okay?

Oh yeah, just being a jokester.

Is "Left brain, Right Brain" a reflection of your own mental struggle? I only ask because of the deep turn towards the end.

For sure. The show is theatre though, so it's a bit more exaggerated and dramatic than it really is. People think I'm depressed and I'm not.

Do you still have all of your songs memorized? Like even the original youtube ones, could you still sing them on the spot?

Definitely not. People sometimes yell old song titles out at my live shows and have to explain to them that I completely forget them.

Have you ever met Louis CK ? if yes what was it like ?

No, I haven't but I'm a huge fan obviously.

What is the best aspect and the worst aspect of Massachusetts from your perspective ?

The accent and the accent.


I was the guy that farted during the Orlando show, you said it was amazing.."if I could sum up this city in one sound..if would be that fucking queef" :'D And that is my claim to fame.

hahahaha amazing! Your anus has great timing.

I've got a question about your process writing jokes. You write a lot of jokes which depend on other parts of the performance or reference another joke or even the same joke itself. At what point do you add these in? Do they evolve organically after doing a routine several times.

I just watched "what." last night and was crying with laughter at several points. Come to Australia.

Well the hour of "what." was actually done a year ago and I decided to try to sit with it for another year and see if I could fill all the dead spaces with more material. So that's where a lot of the in-reference jokes came from.

I've been to the Melbourne comedy festival twice and would love to come back! Thanks for watching!

Did you almost get thrown out of St Johns Prep for your videos?

No, they were actually really cool about it, surprisingly.

Dear Bo, I don't post on reddit ever, but I just have to say, that I think what you do is fucking amazing. I like how you're bringing the more serious parts of a generation to light in your comedy. I think it is so honest and beautiful. When you did what. in boulder, We Think We Know You had me tears. As someone who is going into performing arts, you reminded me why I do what I love. So from the bottom of my heart, thank you!

Also, what's your favorite thing to do in your spare time?

Thanks so much! Really means a lot. If I can make people more comfortable with being a little weird or taking a risk on stage, I'm happy.

I've been reading a lot lately and that's been nice.

I finished the special feeling really really good about myself and the long first step I'm about to take into stand-up. You're inspiring. Thank you.

Thanks! Good luck!

I ran into roughly a week ago at the Luxor roulette table. You're a whole foot taller than I expected. Do you do shows in Vegas frequently? And are there any plans in the making for a permanent show at a hotel there?

I opened for Joel McHale once at Mandalay Bay a while back. I was just in Vegas because I like to gamble. I get it from my father.

What is your opinion of the state of global affairs, and have you ever considered using your fame to inspire people to change and/or improve them?

I don't feel educated enough on them to have an opinion on them or try to inspire change. Much smarter more qualified people will do that, hopefully.

HOW do you manage to stay in such a confident mood when on stage?

It's difficult. I get very nervous before shows. But if i'm comfotable enough with the material I can fake it.

Are you serious?


Saw you at Clemson University a while back. What did you think of Clemson?

Clemson's great! One of my best friends Tom went there.

Hi Bo!


quick question Bo, should i turn off my youtube adblocking for this or do you not care ?. edit: why was it wrong to ask this ?


hi. I'm fucking sick of you.

That makes two of us!

My friend Daniel is a huge fan of you. Just saying. He walks around singing your songs. All. Day.

Oh I know. Daniel's a good man.

Would you consider your style of performance experimental? If so in what ways do you try to go outside the normal format?

I don't really try to consider it anything. I just try to do things on stage that I think the audience would enjoy. And I try to draw on and add to acts that I've enjoyed watching.

Don't you miss sitting in your bedroom at your parents' house alone recording 360p videos?

I miss the low res days for sure.

Did you enjoy being a guest on The Green Room? Was it intimidating at all? Did you feel like the "veterans" on the panel were condescending in any way?

I had a ton of fun on that show and was hugely intimidated by it. But I decided that I would act like what I assumed viewers were feeling and try to ask interesting questions. That took the pressure of me to feel like I had to perform or prove myself.

But did you really mean to knock the water over?

Of course not.

Bo pls respond

I keep it 300, like the romans.

My mom is a PT and helped your sister go into labor. kinda cool

Whoa! Thank her for me!

What's the craziest thing a fan has done to/for you?

And what was it like doing that charity show with Daniel Tosh? He's one of those people who I can't tell what they're like in real life.

My fans don't tend to do that crazy stuff. I signed a prosthetic leg once.

And I was happy to find that Tosh is super nice. When my MTV show was cancelled he called me and told me how much he liked it. Very nice guy.

Why didn't you use any guitar in "what."?

Is Zach Stone going to be on Netflix?

P.S. I really dig the avant garde style in what.

I'm a hack with a guitar. I know like six chords so I just decided to put it down and focus on piano. Hopefully ZS will find it's way there but Viacom and Netflix have been butting heads recently.

p.s. thanks!

are you still answering questions? ive been looking everywhere, i feel like ive seen a special of yours with earlier stuff besides words, words, words. in there such a special? and where might one find this? - also do those ringtone songs from zach stone exist?


Bo, I've never heard of you before and I'm 22min into your Free Special. You are psychotically hilarious, and absurdly talented. Well done on your life.

Thanks! So glad you found it and liked it.

Found this gem when pausing it lol

That's a rare moment of breaking character.

I actually enjoyed the lizard sketch.

Thanks. I really wanted to cut it but my friends said it was their favorite part hahaha extremely stupid.

This interview was transcribed from an "ask me anything" question and answer session with Bo Burnham conducted on Reddit on 2013-12-19. The Reddit AMA can be found here.