Bo Burnham
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Bo Burnham
Bo Burnham
Bo Burnham Montaclair Film Festival (cropped).jpg
Burnham in April 2018
Born Robert Pickering Burnham
(1990-08-21) August 21, 1990 (age 27)
Hamilton, Massachusetts, U.S.
  • Comedian
  • musician
  • singer
  • songwriter
  • rapper
  • actor
  • poet
  • director
Years active 2006-present
Musical career
  • Vocals
  • guitar
  • piano
  • synthesizer
Labels Comedy Central Records
Website Official website

Robert Pickering Burnham (born August 21, 1990)[1] is an American comedian, singer-songwriter, musician, rapper, actor, director, screenwriter, and poet.[2][3][4] He began his performance career as a YouTuber in March 2006, and his videos have been viewed over 214 million times[4][5] as of December 2017.

Burnham signed a four-year record deal with Comedy Central Records and released his debut EP, Bo Fo Sho, in 2008. His first full-length album, Bo Burnham, was released the following year. In 2010, Burnham's second album was released, and Words Words Words, his first live comedy special, aired on Comedy Central. His third album and second comedy special, what., was released in 2013 on his YouTube channel and Netflix. Burnham finished first overall in voting in 2011's Comedy Central Stand-up Showdown.[6] His third stand-up comedy special, Make Happy, was released exclusively on Netflix on June 3, 2016.[7]

In addition to his career as a comedian, Burnham co-created and starred in the MTV television series Zach Stone Is Gonna Be Famous and released his first book of poetry, Egghead: Or, You Can't Survive on Ideas Alone, in 2013.[8] His first feature film as writer and director, Eighth Grade, will be released in July 2018.

Early life

Burnham was born in Hamilton, Massachusetts, the youngest of three children of Scott Burnham, a construction company owner, and Patricia, a nurse at Burnham's school.[2][9] He graduated from St. John's Preparatory School in the spring of 2008, where he was on the honor roll and involved in theatre and the campus ministry program.[2][9] He was admitted to New York University's Tisch School of the Arts to study Experimental Theatre,[10] but instead deferred his admission for a year to pursue a career in comedy.[11]


Burnham performing at The Improv in September 2008

In 2006, Burnham videotaped himself performing two songs and posted them on YouTube to share with his family.[12] They became an overnight sensation when they were copied to, with traffic multiplying over 111 times.[2]

Accompanying himself on guitar or digital piano, Burnham continued to release self-described "pubescent musical comedy"[12] 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.[2] All of Burnham's home-released videos were self-recorded in and around his family's home in Hamilton, Massachusetts, most in his bedroom,[2][9] and had an intentional "do-it-yourself [feel], almost like voyeurism".[13]

Burnham's music and performances tackle such subjects as race, gender, human sexuality, sex, and religion.[14] Burnham describes his on-stage persona as a "more arrogant, stuck-up version [of] himself".[15] 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.[4]

Represented by Douglas Edley, Burnham recorded a performance in London for Comedy Central's The World Stands Up in January 2008 (aired June 30, 2008),[2][16] and signed a four-record deal with Comedy Central Records.[17] Comedy Central Records released Burnham's first EP, the six-song Bo Fo Sho, as an online release-only album on June 17, 2008.[11][12] Burnham's first full album, the self-titled Bo Burnham, was released on March 10, 2009.[18]

Burnham has performed his music in the United States, including Cobb's Comedy Club, YouTube Live in San Francisco,[19] and Caroline's Comedy Club in New York City,[11] 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).[20] 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".[21][22]

Burnham's first experience with controversy regarding his music came on March 3, 2009, when fifteen 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. 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.[14][23]

On May 21, 2010, Burnham taped his first one-hour stand-up special, entitled Words Words Words, for Comedy Central from the House of Blues in Boston as part of the network's new "House of Comedy" series of stand-up specials; it aired on Comedy Central on October 16, 2010. It was released on October 18, 2010. Burnham's second special, titled what., was released on both Netflix and YouTube on December 17, 2013.[24] Burnham's latest special, Make Happy, was produced by Netflix and released on June 3, 2016.[25]


Year Title Ref.
2009 Bo Burnham: Fake ID Tour [26]
2010 Bo Burnham and (No) Friends [27]
2011-2012 Bo Burnham Live [28]
2013 Bo Burnham: what. Tour [29]
2015-2016 Bo Burnham: Make Happy Tour [30]


Burnham performing at Case Western Reserve University in March 2009

While performing at the Montreal Just for Laughs festival in 2008,[11] Burnham met with director and producer Judd Apatow. That September, Burnham negotiated with Universal Pictures to write and create the music for an Apatow-produced comedy film which he describes as the "anti-High School Musical",[9][31] although Burnham insists the script is not a parody of the Disney musicals, but an attempt to emulate the high school he attended. Hoping to star in the film he was writing, Burnham told Wired magazine that he named the star "Bo" in a "not-so-subtle hint [he] want[s] to be in it".[32] In a March 2009 interview with Boston's Weekly Dig, Burnham elaborated on his work with the film. When he is not performing, Burnham spends eight hours a day writing the music, and his nights writing the script, of which he has finished the first draft.[33] Co-writing the screenplay with Burnham was his high school friend Luke Liacos.[34] 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.[35] In May 2009, viral marketing began appearing for Funny People, in which Burnham stars in a NBC sitcom called Yo Teach! In the promo, Burnham stars opposite Jason Schwartzman, as a student in the latter's English class.[36]

Burnham wrote and directed his first feature film, Eighth Grade, which was produced and distributed by A24 and premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2018.[37]


In 2010, Burnham wrote and executive produced Zach Stone Is Gonna Be Famous alongside Dan Lagana, Luke Liacos, and Dave Becky.[38][39] The series was not picked up for a second season and officially ended on June 26, 2013.[40]


At the 2010 Edinburgh Festival Fringe, he was nominated for the main Edinburgh Comedy Award and won both the Edinburgh Comedy Awards' panel prize and the Malcolm Hardee "Act Most Likely to Make a Million Quid" Award.[41]


Title Release date Notes Label Ref.
Bo Fo Sho June 17, 2008 EP album Comedy Central Records [12]
Bo Burnham March 10, 2009 Studio album Comedy Central Records [18]
Words, Words, Words October 18, 2010 Studio album Comedy Central Records [42]
what. December 17, 2013 Studio album Comedy Central Records [43]



Title Year Functioned as Notes Ref.
Director Writer Producer Actor Role
American Virgin 2009 Yes Rudy [44]
Funny People 2009 Yes Student [36]
Words, Words, Words 2010 Yes Yes Performance Himself Stand-up special [45]
Hall Pass 2011 Yes Bartender [46]
Adventures in the Sin Bin 2012 Yes Tony [47]
what. 2013 Yes Yes Yes Performance Himself Stand-up special [48]
Make Happy 2016 Yes Yes Yes Performance Himself Stand-up special [49]
The Big Sick 2017 Yes CJ [50]
Rough Night 2017 Yes Tobey [51]
Jerrod Carmichael: 8 2017 Yes Yes Stand-up special [52]
Eighth Grade 2018 Yes Yes [53]
Chris Rock: Tamborine 2018 Yes Stand-up special [54]


Title Year Functioned as Notes Ref.
Creator Writer Actor Role
Comedy Central Presents 2009 Yes Performance Himself
  • 1 episode
  • Stand-up special
CollegeHumor Originals 2010 Yes Himself
  • 2 episodes
  • Sketches
Conan 2010 Yes Performance Himself 1 episode [57]
Funny as Hell 2011 Yes Performance Himself
  • 1 episode
  • Stand-up special
Zach Stone Is Gonna Be Famous 2013 Yes Yes Yes Zach Stone 12 episodes [39]
Parks and Recreation 2014 Yes Chipp McCapp 1 episode [59]
Just for Laughs: All Access 2014 Yes Performance Himself
  • 1 episode
  • Stand-up special
Key and Peele 2015 Yes Lyle
  • 1 episode
  • Sketch
Kroll Show 2015 Yes British Contestent 2 episodes [62]
We Bare Bears 2015 Yes Andrew Bangs
  • 1 episode
  • Voice
Comrade Detective 2017 Yes Sergiu
  • 1 episode
  • Voice


  • Egghead: Or, You Can't Survive on Ideas Alone (2013)


  1. ^ "Bo Burnham Bio - affair, girlfriend, salary, net worth, bio, career". ArticleBio. Retrieved 2017. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Kahn, Joseph P. (February 13, 2008). "Nonfamily humor, straight from home". The Boston Globe. Archived from the original on October 29, 2010. Retrieved 2009. Irreverent songs win Hamilton youth a cult following 
  3. ^ Connelly, Brendon (June 11, 2009). "Bo Burnham and Judd Apatow's Anti-High School Musical Wants Your Assistance". /Film. Retrieved 2009. 
  4. ^ a b c Graham, Adam (October 28, 2010). "YouTube star Bo Burnham mixes raps, laughs". The Detroit News. Archived from the original on October 29, 2010. Retrieved 2010. 
  5. ^ "Bo Burnham YouTube Channel". YouTube. December 28, 2017. Retrieved 2017. 
  6. ^ "Comedy Central Stand-Up Showdown Results, 2011". Archived from the original on January 31, 2011. Retrieved 2011. 
  7. ^ boburnham (May 20, 2016), Bo Burnham: MAKE HAPPY Trailer - NETFLIX [HD], retrieved 2016 
  8. ^ "Egghead by Bo Burnham - review". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. July 30, 2014. Retrieved 2014. 
  9. ^ a b c d Kit, Borys (September 25, 2008). "Singing comic joins Apatow clan". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on September 25, 2008. Retrieved 2009. 
  10. ^ "Bo Burnham meets Tim Key". YouTube. Retrieved 2016. 
  11. ^ a b c d Giltz, Michael (July 26, 2008). "Young comedian Bo Burnham is heading up charts". Daily News. Retrieved 2009. 
  12. ^ a b c d Wortham, Jenna (June 11, 2008). "YouTube Star Bo Burnham Readies Debut EP, Bo Fo Sho". Wired. Retrieved 2009. 
  13. ^ Heisler, Steve (April 4, 2009). "Bo Burnham". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2010. 
  14. ^ a b Gottlieb, Jed (March 9, 2009). "Bo-dacious comedy: Hamilton's Burnham moves from the bedroom to Hollywood". The Boston Globe. Boston, Massachusetts, USA: P. Steven Ainsley. Retrieved 2009. 
  15. ^ Johnson, Nick (February 5, 2009). "Internet celebrity pushes envelope in performance". The Daily Collegian. University Park, Pennsylvania, USA: Pennsylvania State University. Retrieved 2009. 
  16. ^ Olson, Kris (July 3, 2008). "Ready, set ... Bo! (Burnham, that is)". The Patriot Ledger. Quincy, Massachusetts, USA: Rick Daniels. Retrieved 2009. 
  17. ^ Ingram, Matthew (September 26, 2008). "Bo Burnham: Teenaged YouTube star". The Globe and Mail. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Phillip Crawley. Archived from the original on November 5, 2008. Retrieved 2009. 
  18. ^ a b Comedy Central Records (February 18, 2009). "COMEDY CENTRAL Records(R) to Release 'Bo Burnham' CD/DVD on March 10". New York, United States. PR Newswire. Archived from the original on February 22, 2009. Retrieved 2009. 
  19. ^ Hartlaub, Peter (October 16, 2008). "Teenage angst has paid off well for Bo Burnham". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2009. 
  20. ^ Clark, Tim (August 25, 2010). "Bo Burnham nominated for Edinburgh Comedy Award". London, England: Get Comedy. Archived from the original on January 23, 2011. Retrieved 2010. 
  21. ^ "Foster's Edinburgh Comedy Awards 2010 - 2009 winners". Edinburgh, Scotland: Edinburgh Comedy Awards. Archived from the original on January 23, 2011. Retrieved 2010. 
  22. ^ "Foster's Edinburgh Comedy Awards 2010 - judging". Edinburgh, Scotland: Edinburgh Comedy Awards. Retrieved 2010. 
  23. ^ Greaney, T.J. (March 4, 2009). "In-your-face comedy". Columbia Daily Tribune. Retrieved 2009. 
  24. ^ Kroeger, Jake (December 17, 2013). "BO BURNHAM'S WHAT. RELEASED TODAY ON NETFLIX AND YOUTUBE". Nerdist. Nerdist Industries. Retrieved 2017. 
  25. ^ Schwartz, Dana (June 6, 2016). "Bo Burnham Is Grown Up and Making Happy". New York Observer. Retrieved 2016. 
  26. ^ "Bo Burnham announces national tour". Punchline Magazine Blog. July 31, 2009. Archived from the original on January 8, 2010. Retrieved 2010. 
  27. ^ Ryan, Mike (September 13, 2010). "EXCLUSIVE: Bo Burnham on His Newly-Announced Comedy Tour and MTV Show". Movieline. Retrieved 2010. 
  28. ^ "Bo Burnham: 2011 Tour". Brighton, England: Just for Laughs Live. 2011. Archived from the original on May 21, 2011. Retrieved 2011. 
  29. ^ Jones, Alice (November 6, 2013). "The many faces of Bo Burnham". The Independent. Retrieved 2018. 
  30. ^ Cathcart, Olivia (December 8, 2014). "Bo Burnham announces dates for his 2015 "Make Happy Tour"". The Laugh Button. Retrieved 2018. 
  31. ^ Hall, Julian (November 14, 2008). "Rising Star: Bo Burnham, comedy actor". The Independent. Independent News & Media. Retrieved 2009. 
  32. ^ Wortham, Jenna (October 1, 2008). "YouTuber Bo Burnham Scripting New Judd Apatow Movie". Wired. Retrieved 2009. 
  33. ^ Clark, Andrew (March 2009). "Bo burnham". Boston's Weekly Dig. Retrieved 2009. 
  34. ^ Cornwell, Tim (August 28, 2010). "Preview: Bo Burnham, comedian". Edinburgh Festivals. Retrieved 2010. 
  35. ^ Vena, Jocelyn (October 14, 2010). "Bo Burnham on Making The 'Anti-High School Musical' With Judd Apatow". MTV. Archived from the original on January 15, 2011. Retrieved 2011. 
  36. ^ a b Connelly, Brendon (May 28, 2009). "Funny People Viral Marketing: Yo Teach!". /Film. Retrieved 2009. 
  37. ^ Debruge, Peter (November 29, 2017). "Sundance Film Festival Unveils Full 2018 Features Lineup". Variety. Retrieved 2017. 
  38. ^ Levine, Stuart (September 7, 2010). "MTV orders pilot from Bo Burnham". Variety. Retrieved 2010. Rising comedian just finished run at Edinburgh fest 
  39. ^ a b "Proper Bo". Chortle. September 8, 2010. Retrieved 2010. Burnham lands US sitcom deal 
  40. ^ "Bo Burnham responds to 'Zach Stone' cancellation: I'm the luckiest guy I know". LAUGHSPIN. June 27, 2013. Archived from the original on April 19, 2016. Retrieved 2015. 
  41. ^ "Scottish Television report, August 31, 2010". Retrieved 2010. 
  42. ^ "Words Words Words". Alternative Distribution Alliance. Retrieved 2010. 
  43. ^ "what. coming soon". YouTube. Retrieved 2013. 
  44. ^ "American Virgin (2009)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2018. 
  45. ^ Bo Burnham: Words Words Words (DVD). October 19, 2010. 
  46. ^ Baez, Dominic (February 27, 2010). "Can we get a 'Hall Pass' from this movie?". East Oregonian. Archived from the original on April 18, 2012. Retrieved 2011. 
  47. ^ kit, Borys (April 27, 2010). "Three join coming-of-age comedy 'Sin Bin'". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on May 1, 2010. Retrieved 2010. 
  48. ^ Bo Burnham (December 17, 2013). what. (Bo Burnham FULL SHOW HD) (YouTube). Retrieved 2018. 
  49. ^ Trask, Nathaniel (September 19, 2016). "Comedy Review: "Bo Burnham: Make Happy" is the finest in experimental comedy". The Maine Campus. Retrieved 2018. 
  50. ^ Chen, Nick (July 25, 2017). "The Big Sick does stand-up comedy right by doing it wrong". Little White Lies. Retrieved 2018. 
  51. ^ Lemire, Christy (June 15, 2017). "Rough Night Movie Review & Film Summary (2017)". Roger Ebert. Retrieved 2018. 
  52. ^ "Jerrod Carmichael: 8 - Synopsis". HBO. Retrieved 2018. 
  53. ^ Debruge, Peter (November 29, 2017). "Sundance Film Festival Unveils Full 2018 Features Lineup". Variety. Retrieved 2017. 
  54. ^ Zinoman, Jason (February 13, 2018). "Chris Rock's First Special in 10 Years Will Come Out Wednesday". The New York Times. Retrieved 2018. 
  55. ^ Schillaci, Sophie (May 2, 2013). "'Zach Stone Is Gonna Be Famous': Bo Burnham on TV, Fame and the Irony of Mocking It (Video)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2018. 
  56. ^ For the first sketch, see "Learning Piano to Get Laid (with Bo Burnham)". CollegeHumor. October 18, 2010. Retrieved 2018. 
    For the second sketch, see "Hate Weird Facebook Guys (Eminem Parody)". CollegeHumor. October 19, 2010. Retrieved 2018. 
  57. ^ Bo Burnham Stand-Up 11/30/10 - CONAN on TBS (YouTube). Team Coco. June 3, 2016. Retrieved 2018. 
  58. ^ "HBO Canada Goes for the Laughs with "Funny as Hell", a New Six-part Original Comedy Series". Corus Entertainment. February 24, 2011. Retrieved 2018. 
  59. ^ Fowler, Matt (April 10, 2014). "Parks and Recreation: "Flu Season 2" Review". IGN. Retrieved 2018. 
  60. ^ Cox, Jennifer (February 27, 2014). "New Season Of Just For Laughs: All Access Jam-Packed With Star Power". CraveOnline. Retrieved 2018. 
  61. ^ Key & Peele - A Cappella - Uncensored (YouTube). Comedy Central. July 24, 2015. Retrieved 2018. 
  62. ^ Upadhyaya, Kayla (March 3, 2015). "Kroll Show: "The Commonwealth Games"". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2015. 
  63. ^ Internet Rivals - We Bare Bears (YouTube). Cartoon Network. March 24, 2016. Retrieved 2018. 
  64. ^ Jillie Mae Eddy (August 25, 2017). "Amazon's Comrade Detective - Season 1, Episode 1 Recap". WICF Daily. Retrieved 2018. 

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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