Edinburgh 2013: Bo Burnham - The wunderkind of comedy keeps his edge
"The problem with Bo Burnham is that he's 22 and better at what he does than anyone else in the world." So tweets one of the American wunderkind's fans after tonight's masterclass in stand-up and musical and physical comedy.
They're dead right. It's a 'problem' for other comics on the Fringe, and it's a 'problem' for Burnham, who quickly went from YouTube sensation to live phenomenon, to top what he does and to mine his busy psyche in order to do it.
A young, exhilarated 770-strong crowd is whipped up into a frenzy by Burnham's David Copperfield-meets-Michael Jackson romp of an opening which lays out self-flagellation as his chosen path (it's a glitz blitz on fame) while peppering it with comedy tropes and rug-pulls.
"Is he ski-ing, or is he in a gay porn", sings the gangly young man while gyrating back and forth. Now you see it, now you don't duplicity is at the heart of Burnham's set. A bathos battle played out between the impulses of his left and right brain further underlines the disorientation. "There is something about her, I just didn't realise it" enthuses his creative right brain. "Tits" abruptly informs his matter-of-fact left brain.
The forces employed in this cerebral contortion: suggestions about his masculinity; the perception of him as a know-all, comedy smartarse and a general malaise about the human condition, cause Burnham to seek some low-brow expressions, but he can still stop along the way to nail schadenfreude and omnipotence.
"You're not my children/ You're just a bad game of Sims" he sings from "the point-of-view of god". After nailing the divine, what is left? Where is he taking us? "Art is still alive, nothing is real" he asides, while in an irresistible flow. Whatever happens, none of us will truly know him, a point that unites performer and punter.
"How can anybody know me when I don't even know myself?", sang an angst-ridden Matt Johnson on TheThe's classic lament "Giant". It's an anthem tailor-made for the comedian, but Burnham probably knows himself better than any 22-year-old ever did. Please let him never admit it, it's best for all of us.
GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival
TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride
FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head
Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treattv
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Cyclist who knocked down three-year-old girl says his life has been 'destroyed'
- 2 Chelsea victory parade: Chelsea mocked on Twitter as 'tens of fans' pack the streets of London
- 3 US warned by Chinese media to stop meddling or 'war will be inevitable'
- 4 Woman, 21, dies after taking contraceptive pill that 'caused fatal blood clot'
- 5 Isis burns woman alive for refusing to engage in 'extreme' sex act, UN says
Stolen Instagram photo sells for $90,000
The New York Times sparks criticism after releasing an all-white reading list
Glastonbury lineup 2015: The Women's Institute to make debut appearance at Somerset festival
Dheepan, film review: Palme d'Or prize goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head
Game of Thrones, The Gift, Season 5, Episode 7: Why two of the show’s most iconic characters just met
As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
Scotland may have to leave the EU even if it votes to stay in, David Cameron confirms
The day that Britain resigned as a global power
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland
EU referendum: David Cameron's rules are a 'democratic disgrace', says French-born Scottish politician set to be denied a vote
A nation of inequality: How the UK is failing to feed its most vulnerable people