Bo Burnham, a name that might not be a household name. This is his second hour long comedy special over the course of roughly the last 5 years. However, this is a name that should be listed with the greats of comedy. Bo is an insanely intelligent man, that makes jokes that can sometimes take 2 or 3 listens to actually get what the joke was. Some of the jokes are multi-layered, so that you might get it a different way each time it is viewed/listened to. I think that Bo can best be described as a young George Carlin with ADHD, and a love of singing. He has jokes that start off in one place, look like they are going to a familiar place, and then turn around, and go somewhere totally unexpected.
"What." plays like a wonderful little piece of performance comedy. It separates itself out from the standard realm of "Stand-up" by including a healthy dose of pre-recorded content. Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if I came to the realization down the line after more viewings, to realize that this is actually part of some strange, elaborate social commentary, or something like that. Bo also includes a number of songs in his act, which like everything else can be multi-tiered jokes. This is a special that you have to watch, and listen to, it is not just something you turn on for background noise while you write blog posts or something.
I do have a small caveat for this particular comedy special. If you really want to grasp this special, it is almost a necessity to watch his first special "Words, Words, Words.", as that special works in a more typical singing comedian format. Conversely, watching that first special might lead one to view the newer special might feel a little off. However, there are a few self-referential jokes that you will definitely find benefits from watching the original. Downside there is, that the original special does not appear to be currently streaming... If someone does find it streaming somewhere, post where in the comments below! It is available for purchase on Amazon.
It is worth noting, that Bo's humor is not for everyone. His language can be offensive, and some of his jokes might be downright insulting to certain groups of people. Like George Carlin before him, he uses whatever words might be available in his verbal assault on the senses. He speaks fast, and shoots out jokes and observations at a dizzying speed, a fact that he makes fun of in "What."
At this point, I pondered posting a few videos from "What.". However, I think it is something that needs to be seen in its entirety, and just taking bits and pieces prior to seeing the whole thing does a huge disservice to the art itself.
RECOMMENDATION: As stated, Bo is not for everyone. If you like singing comedians, and you could appreciate the brainy styles of George Carlin, Bo is for you. If you are offended by strong language, or do not appreciate heady comedy, avoid Bo Burnham.
FINAL THOUGHTS: At this point, I've watched the show at least 10 times, and have listened to the album at least as many times while in the car. I honestly think that this particular special gets better with every viewing, and even though at this point, I know when and where the punchlines are coming, I still find myself laughing every time.
FINAL SCORE: 9 out of 10.
Streaming now on: Youtube and Netflix
Also, if you feel like supporting Bo, You can pick up his book Egghead below, and also you can pick up a digital copy of "Words Words Words". For the hell of it, an MP3 copy of the show, so after you watch it, you can listen to your favorite bits whenever you want!