For 19-year-old Bo Burnham, nothing is off limits. From race to sexuality, his witty raps come a mile a minute with no apologies. With over 50 million YouTube video views, no one is complaining.
Burnham is performing for free at Phi Beta Kappa Memorial Hall Saturday at 9 p.m. and many students are excited to see this musical comedian.
“He’s freaking hilarious, and he’s really popular, especially with college students,” James Napolitano ’11, a member of Alma Mater Production’s Comedy Committee, said. “He’s a great performer, and the show is going to be awesome. I’ve seen most of his videos, and they’re all really funny.”
“I’m really stoked how excited the entire campus seems to be,” Kyle Ogilvie ’11, a member of AMP’s Music Committee said. “Throughout the campus, and even within AMP itself, small things — like creating posters and handing out ‘H2BO’ bottles — are really making a huge stir.”
Burnham’s online videos became popular for their multi-faceted use of comedy and music. He performs using a keyboard or guitar and spits sarcastic one-liners or inappropriate stories told in one exhausting breath. “I got a safe full o’ cherries, cause I pop it and lock it / A girl’s like a fridge, once a week you should stock it” are in the opening lines of his rap “I’m Bo Yo.’”
“There are musicians, and there are comedians. Rarely does one successfully combine the two,” Patrick Willis ’11 said. “I’m fascinated to see how Bo pulls it off.”
Since Burnham’s show is open to the general public, fans are eagerly traveling to the College of William and Mary to get a glimpse of the YouTube star’s live performance. A.J. Lund, a student at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond and a fan of Burnham, is planning to drive down to Williamsburg for the show.
“I’m most excited to see how he interacts with a live audience,” she said. “If it is anything compared to his lyrical prowess, then I might become a bumbling fangirl.”
Burnham’s lyrics are paired with his carefully crafted deadpan expression and monotone voice, making the introduction to his song “New Math” particularly hilarious: “Here’s a song that takes something that’s not so fun — math — and makes it offensive.”
Every lyric insults a new group while giving it a semi-educational twist, such as “Take the approximate moral proportion of the probable problem of a pro-life abortion.”
Findlay Park ’11, head of AMP’s Comedy Committee, says they are bringing Burnham to campus because he is still rising in fame. After snagging a cameo in this summer’s “Funny People” and being the youngest comedian to host his own special on Comedy Central, Burnham is undoubtedly one of today’s hottest comic acts.
“[Burnam] is a serious talent, and our school has a history of bringing [in] breakthrough talents before they hit the starlight and break the banks like Demetri Martin, Dane Cook and B.J. Novak, ” Park said.
Burnham — who claims to have never studied music — deferred enrollment at New York University’s Tisch School of the Performing Arts last fall in order to pursue his career. It turned out to be a good move when talent agent Doug Edley, who manages Drew Carey and Dave Chappelle, offered to represent Burnham immediately after watching one of his videos.
“I called Bo and said, ‘I gotta represent you’,” Edley recalled in an interview with the Boston Globe in 2008. “He’s definitely the youngest comedian I’ve worked with — he was getting ready for his SATs when I called — but the quality of his writing is amazing.”
Tyler Stukenbroeker ’10 agrees with all the enthusiasm surrounding Burnham’s performance.
“Kanye West had it right when he said he’s the voice of our generation, except that instead of talking about himself, he should have been talking about Bo Burnham,” Stukenbroeker said.