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I am a comedian named Bo Burnham. AMA

Apr 29th 2013 by BOblivionMovie • 65 Questions • 1386 Points

Hello reddit! Proof.

I have to suck first and plug this mockumentary TV series that I made called "Zach Stone is Gonna Be Famous." It premieres this thursday at 10:30 on MTV. So I would love you to either watch it or tell me to go fuck myself because you're not going to watch an MTV show helmed by a former "YouTube Sensation" (I totally get it).

And I'm going on the road soon with my brand new stand-up show!

AND OBLIVION IS IN THE THEATERS NOW!

UPDATE: Thank you for all the questions. I had a lot of fun and laughed a lot.

Q:

How did you feel going from writing silly songs to somewhat serious songs(Art is Dead, Nerds)? Were you nervous about how your fan base would react to the new songs?

A:

Yeah for sure. Art is Dead especially. Nerds was just sort of a little side project thing for fun. But once Art is Dead was out there, it bought me so much freedom. After that I really felt like I could do anything I wanted to onstage (I still want to be funny 98% of the time). I have to thank people like Tim Minchin, though, who helped pave the way for seriousness in musical comedy.


Q:

Art is Dead is my favorite song of yours to date. You have a good intuition, just trust it and you'll be fine.

A:

Thanks willowsharks! There's a lot of more stuff like that in the new hour. But it tried to make it funnier than "art is dead" which is a bit of downer.


Q:

Bo! If you could pick one, what heckler stood out the most and how did you handle it?

A:

My shitfaced step-aunt showed up at one of my shows and I told her that her kids where probably ashamed of her without knowing that she was, indeed, MY shitfaced step-aunt.


Q:

How do you think being a theatre kid helped with your success?

A:

I truly have no idea how my success happened. That part of it is a lot of stupid luck. But I can talk about my comedy and my comedy is very influenced by me being a "theater kid." So much of what I do onstage is seeking out the thrills I would feel doing theater in middle school. Just recently, with this last hour of material, I finally found a way to "listen" on stage again. Listening is one of the most fun aspects of theater and there usually isn't much room for it in stand up comedy. So I started incorporating backing-tracks into my act, so that I could actively listen on stage rather than just spout for an hour straight.

And my theater teacher in high school taught me that the most important and impressive thing someone can do on stage is take a risk. That one sentiment has guided so much of my act.

I rambled. Hope that answered your question?


Q:

You say "former" YouTube sensation. Does that mean you won't be doing any more YouTube videos?

A:

I just said "former" because I figured that the act of being a "sensation" was behind me. When I return, I will be a "Youtube OhThisFuckingGuyAgain."


Q:

A while back, I faxed you and asked if you needed a personal chef.

Do you still need one?

A:

No but I need a fax machine.


Q:

Hi Bo. On a scale of 1 to 10 how much do you enjoy rating things?

A:

10!!! THANK YOU FOR THAT QUESTION!


Q:

do your parents actually think you're gay?

A:

My dads just think i'm Bi now.


Q:

Huge fan Bo!

Had you not blown up as big as you did, would you have pursued higher education? If so, what would you have gone to school for? What are your main academic interests?

A:

I loved physics when I was younger. I would read "The Elegant Universe" and think that I was destined to become a great physicist. It wasn't until AP Physics in high school that I realized that you needed to do a lot of grueling, insane math before you could get to the fun "science philosophy" that I thought I was heading towards. I definitely would've pursued higher education. I was a week from enrolling before I decided to drop out. I miss school and learning, but I know I still have plenty of time for that.


Q:

Do you remember playing N64 with the interracial siblings down the street way back when? Great times

A:

YES! Taylor and Cody?! hahaha


Q:

How did you learn to be so tall while not looking so tall through my computer screen

A:

I surround myself with large objects.


Q:

Why did my parents get a divorce?

A:

Because your father wants to be a better father to you and he feels that the only way he can do that is with a little distance from your mother. And your mother wants to suck my dick without feeling guilty.


Q:

At one of your live shows you explained why you don't sing "Klan Cookout" anymore because of how you told all the black people to sing along with the chorus and after only one person stood up and sang it you said "The bidding will start at $50." I thought that was the funniest part of the whole show

A:

[COMMENT REMOVED BY MTV EXECUTIVES]


Q:

Hey Bo!

You came to my campus in the Fall (UW-Platteville) and put on a great show. I worked on the production crew that set up and struck the show for you, and got a very brief chance to say hi. What struck me was how quiet and reserved you seemed to be before and after the show.

So my question is, do you do any kind of prep before the show to sort of "get into character", or is your stage presence more organic than that?

Also, you deep-throated one of our microphones and our boss was so grossed out by that he made us throw it away.

Have fun with the new tour and thanks for bringing a little comedy to our lowly rural campus. It was easily the best show we've had here for awhile.

A:

Oh man your boss throwing away the microphone really made me laugh.

And as far as me being quiet and reserved, I think I'm always like that. Not just before shows. It's always a little weird for me, because I see my performance on stage as very much a character that just happens to have the same name as me. I think some people mistake my shyness offstage for arrogance or standoffishness. I hope you didn't. I try to be as polite and nice as possible in my everyday life. I just see people get disappointed that I'm not like the "life of the party" when I get offstage.

and so glad you enjoyed the live show! platteville was a fun one, I remember it.


Q:

What else can you deep-throat?

A:

anything microphone-shaped.


Q:

Bo, I'm reading your responses/writing a paper on Skinheads. Can I get a quote from you to include in my paper to make sure my professor reads it?

A:

Skinheads are bad. They are not good.


Q:

Where did you go for 2-3 years?

A:

Just been quietly touring as a stand-up, working on this tv show, and a few other things. I think there's this urge from a lot of people to stay relevant that's really annoying. I don't want to bother people unless I think I have something worthy of their attention. So yeah, I've just been working. Now a few of those things are done, and hopefully you like them!


Q:

How do we fix africa?

A:

I've been saying this for years, Olive Garden has UNLIMITED BREADSTICKS.


Q:

Has anyone ever said you look like Ellen DeGeneres and Eddie Izzard's love child?

A:

That is the nicest physical comparison of me I've ever heard.


Q:

I'm engaged to a girl that you kissed when you were three and was there at your birthday party when you almost drowned.

A:

hahahahahhaa


Q:

Did you ever find the G spot?

A:

Yeah it was in her pussy the whole time!


Q:

Did you enjoy going on WTF with Marc Maron? Seems like a tough guy to get along with.

A:

I really did enjoy it. I was super intimidated going into it but Marc was very nice to me. I was confused by it.


Q:

You were also hilarious on Pete Holmes' "You Made It Weird." You guys still keep in contact?

A:

Yes! Pete is a great friend and such a beacon of light and punchability.


Q:
  1. Who were your idols starting out?
  2. Who is your current favorite comedian not named Bo Burnham
A:
  1. Oh man, Steve Martin -- if you enjoy listening to comedy and haven't listened to "Let's Get Small" or "Wild and Crazy Guy," do it now. He's so amazing and silly and theatrical. I listened to a lot of George Carlin and Bill Cosby as well.
  2. There are many favorites. Hannibal Buress, Tig Notaro, Hans Teeuwen, Tim Minchin, John Mulaney, Jon Dore, Rory Scovel, Dylan Moran.

Q:

Hypothetically, if you were playing Supersmash, who would you pick?

A:

100% Kirby. Yeah, I'm that dick.


Q:

What was your social status in highschool?

By the way I absolutely love your attitude towards everything. You're hilarious and REAL at the same time.

A:

I was a theater kid but I went to an all-boys school so there really wasn't much of a social status. Without girls to impress, guys seemed less hostile to each other. I just had a few close friends and kind of kept to myself.


Q:

How come you don't seem happy when I make you a burrito at Qdoba?

A:

Because I'm at Qdoba getting a burrito! Duh! Do you work at the one near the North Shore Mall? I haven't been there in forever cause I live in La now.


Q:

What is your favorite dipping sauce?

A:

Too personal.


Q:

Would you please be my marriage officiant? My boyfriend and I adore you!

A:

Only if you're a guy. I don't believe in straight marriage.


Q:

I know you're probably busy, but will you ever do a collaboration with George Watsky? Also, I saw the pilot for your show and it was HILARIOUS! :)

A:

I would love to collaborate with George. He's super talented and much more talented lyrically than I am (so I'd be happy to get my ass handed to me). Glad you liked the pilot! Heard it leaked. Sweet!


Q:

Do you find your irresistible body to be burdensome? Like when you're trying to walk down a street, and you are being overwhelmed with cat calls and pickup attempts, do you find yourself wishing that you were just a little bit less ridiculously good looking?

A:

It's hard. Having a perfect body at 6'6", 185 pounds is tough. My dime-sized nipples become anthropomorphized sirens, calling out to the ship-bound women. Also my hairless chest and somehow hairy-ass may be one of nature's sexiest mysteries.


Q:

So when are you coming back to Britain? Also, how different would you say your new stuff is from your old?
ALSO http://imgur.com/9eQgno7 and http://imgur.com/TAtm8td yaaaaay

A:

Trying to come back as soon as possible. I think I'm going to get back to Edinburgh in August. Then going to try to get to England soon after that. I think my new stuff is very different than my old stuff. I'm a huge fan of bands like the Beatles and Radiohead and Animal Collective -- bands that changed their sounds and styles drastically album to album. I'm trying to do that with comedy. To have albums that feel like they tell jokes and communicate ideas very differently from album to album.


Q:

Arpeggio.

A:

quivers in ecstasy


Q:

Forget the password for /u/comedybronzemine ?

A:

Sh....


Q:

I noticed that you're going on tour but not in Canada. If I buy you 10 pounds of poutine will you come to Toronto?

A:

It has to be Poutine served to me on the stomach of a Saint Catherine street stripper.


Q:

Can you tell me about the different Hondas that you have for sale?

A:

Well this honda is has four doors and so does this one and this one has a steering wheel and so does this one.


Q:

To what extent does "Rant" reflect your true feelings regarding Catholicism and religion?

(P.S., I think you're awesome.)

A:

Um, I think that reflected my 18 year-old, just-out-of-an-all-boys-catholic-high-school views pretty well. I'm a bit more mellow than that now. I do fucking hate the institution of the catholic church and that didn't change when Francis went to the pawn shop. (P.S., Thank you!)


Q:

I watched the leaked version of the first episode (partly due to a love for piracy and partly due to being in a country where it's not going to be shown) and really liked it. How in control were you for the creative process of the show? Is there anything you would've liked to have been done differently?

A:

All good! Pirate away. MTV gave Dan Lagana (the guy who co-created the show with me) and I a lot of creative freedom. People might watch it and think that MTV censored me, but it's quite the opposite. I wanted to try something different, and I didn't have any interest in doing a television version of my stage show or a show where I played a fictional version of myself (that's way too trippy for me). There's plenty of things I would've done differently, but I feel that way about everything that's finished. Really glad you enjoyed it, that means a lot. Truly.


Q:

What ever happened to the movie you were writing with Judd Apatow?

A:

So yeah, I was working on a musical with Judd Apatow that was going to be sort of an "r-rated high school musical." We did a few drafts of it and it ended up not going forward. Over the course of writing the script, Judd taught me how to write and structure a screenplay, as I had no idea at the time. So it was a huge win for me -- learning how to write from someone whose writing I respect so much.


Q:

Bo burnham!

Do you actually read a lot of shakespeare/lit? Cause you deliver it pretty well.

A:

Thanks! I used to read it and perform it a lot. Haven't been able to as much lately. I'd really love to get back into theater.


Q:

Every time I listen to your album "Words, Words, Words" I catch some new pun that I never picked up on before. Which one is your favorite that you think people may not have noticed?

A:

I think people got almost all of them. There's a stupid joke about the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle that I loved that I knew wouldn't be a huge hit hahah.


Q:

What is your favorite book?

A:

That's hard. A recent book that I really loved was "Born Standing Up" -- Steve Martin's memoir. Favorite: maybe Catch-22?


Q:

Bo! Huge fan.

So why MTV?

A:

Thanks Addyct! The show itself is about a young, obnoxious kid who desperately wants to become famous in any way possible. And MTV seems to be the place that has sort of cultivated and nurtured that mindset. So I figured, where better to start this conversation about fame and its strange impacts on young people than the belly of the beast!


Q:

Do you sleep with your groupies?

A:

Is it sleeping with them if they're dead?


Q:

You said in the trailer for Zach Stone that you wanted to be a famous slut. So please post some nudes to r/ladybonersgw. Full frontal, full rear and a cumshot please and thank you.

A:

I don't know why but the term "full rear" really made me laugh. I've just never heard that before.


Q:

no but really show me your butt.


Q:

You had me hooked with new math. I was I think a freshman in high school when you did it and I hadn't learned half of the things in the song. So it continued to make me laugh every time I listened to it and understood more of the jokes.

So my question: How long did that take you to write because it seems fairly intelligent on multiple levels of math?

A:

I was always a math-minded kid growing up. When I started taking Calc AB in school I realized that it probably wasn't the field that I wanted to go into. But I knew enough to make a bunch of stupid puns about it. Glad you liked it!


Q:

Do you regret anything about the path you've taken, instead of going to college or doing something more "normal" with your life?

A:

College definitely would've been fun. When I was watching all my friends do college, I sort of wrote it all off very angrily. I convinced myself that college was stupid and pointless because I was jealous that my friends were having the time of their lives while I was stuck in a Ramada Inn in North Dakota. I've grown up since and realized I was wrong. I'd love to go back to school in a few years and take some science and music classes.


Q:

Hi Bo, my name is Alexander Jones. I am 15 years old and an aspiring musical comic. I would really like some input on my song, as you inspire me to write the kind of things I write.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qp-APKxFVHw

I also want to mention that "Nerds" got me through a rough day at school today, so thank you.

A:

Amazing!

I think one of the hardest things about musical comedy is figuring out how to get the lyrics to sit well in the music, without one element stepping on the other. And you do that brilliantly! You also took a song that is inherently repetitive and did a lot to make it not feel that way -- the slow little semi-bridge about "beef jerky" was awesome.

I think you're well on your way to being very good at this. You have all the right instincts. My only bit of advice would be to find more of a theme or "premise" for the song. Right now, it's a very funny list of hypothetical questions/silly metaphors. The title is "Life Advice" and I think if you had a little mini-chorus or mantra that you could repeat a few times to echo the premise of your title, the audience will then know WHY they're hearing the song (shitty example: these are things that I have learned in my life then go back to listing all the different funny lessons).

I think doing that will help the audience to contextualize all of your great one-liners. If you can combine great jokes (which you have), a fun tune (which you have), and a strong theme (which you almost have) then you will have sure-fire musical comedy smash, kiddo!

But amazing job. You're very talented.


Q:

favorite musical? ps- I'm stoked for Stone! Also, you make my heart giggle.

A:

Just saw Matilda on Broadway, and it is honestly now my favorite musical. It's fucking amazing.


Q:

Hey Bo! Do you remember coming to UNC Asheville a while back and performing there? I was the one that spearheaded your booking, and picked you up from the airport and managed the event and such.

First off, I want to say you were a top notch performer and a professional off of the stage. It was a cool event and bringing you to campus was the highlight of being on the programming board for me.

Though, I have to say that my favorite part of it all was after the show. Blowjobs and weed and partying were being offered to you all around, but you had me tell everyone that you had an early flight just so you could skip out on it and not feel awkward for not being interested and telling folks such. Even better is that you were pumped at the fact that there was a ping pong table that you could play at for free.

Thanks again man. It was really a killer time and I hope to see you perform on stage in the future when I don't have to deal with the worry that comes with coordinating the event.

Oh, here's an embarrassing picture of you and I after the show.

A:

Holy shit that is a terrible photo of both of us! hahahaa

I definitely remember that show. It was a weird, well-lit room in like a sort of study area, right? Yeah that was super fun.

I tend to just want to relax and go back to my hotel room after a show. I really appreciate everyone wanting to hang out, I've just never been the party type and I tend to feel a little stressed in large crowds.

Thanks for helping put on the show. I remember the show being very well run, and if I was smiling after the show like I was in that picture, it must've gone well.


Q:

favorite porn site


Q:

How long does it take you to write one of your pieces [songs], on average?

A:

Depends on the piece. When I was writing more dense, pun-filled songs - those could be written over a period of few months. Songs that are a little more theme driven, with longer jokes can be written faster (maybe a week). This new stand-up show I'm doing has been a whole different process. A lot of the material incorporates backing-tracks, so the process for finishing bits is a long back and forth between working things out in a recording studio and testing them out on the stage. So some of those bits have taken over a year.


Q:

what song are you most proud of?

A:

I tend not to feel proud as much as I feel excited. And I always am most excited about my newest material. There's a lot of stuff in this new hour that I'm really excited for people to see and excited to perform. Unless you meant which song in general, in which case I am most proud of "Mambo No. 5" by Lou Bega.


Q:

Also, what song are you most ashamed of?

A:

Most comedians don't ever apologize for anything they say, because I think it sounds cool to be like this absolutist beacon of free speech or whatever. But I'm not happy with a lot of the jokes I told when I was younger. In particular the song "The Perfect Woman" which just makes a series of really easy, not clever deaf jokes. I think about the fact that maybe some poor deaf kid was made fun or teased with one of the lyrics from that song and I feel sick. Now, I still do material that is considered "edgy." And I still make plenty of dark jokes about sad topics. But I've put the thought into them and can stand behind them. I was 16 when I wrote "The Perfect Woman" and I just find it kind of mean now.


Q:

"Wait so his name is Zach stone??"

-people I'm not friends with anymore

A:

It's fine. It'll be some weird social experiment at the very least. I'm down with that.


Q:

did you have to make any sacrifices to get a show on MTV? if so which? such as jokes you wrote but weren't allowed to be used and so on.

A:

Not nearly as much as you'd think. We wanted to make a silly and sweet satire about a young kid and his family. So most of our fights were about things like being able to show the camera crew and Zach being able to reference the act of filming during a scene. I'm very happy with how it turned out. I think it's different and weird and something I can stand behind.


Q:

When you performed/perform the piece "Art is Dead", how serious were/are you about the message conveyed in the song?

A:

Definitely serious at the time. There's also a bit of hypocrisy built into that song, and it being so melodramatic is supposed to be mocking how melodramatic artists tend to be (even when their trying to be self-aware or introspective).


Q:

Bo, do you really hate it when people sing along at your shows? Why?

Isn't it like any other concert, say, the jonas brothers... many of the fans sing along... why do you get upset?

A:

I'm never really as angry as I am on stage. I think watching anger on stage is fun for an audience. But I do want the comedy to be experienced in the moment, rather than how a song is experienced at a concert. But granted, that should be on me to come up with new material that you haven't seen before (and that's really the reason I don't post stuff on youtube until it's out on a special; because I want people to be surprised when they see it for the first time live). But you can sing along. I don't really care. But I will still yell at you.


Q:

What is your favorite genre of music, kind sir?

A:

Brubasket! Good seeing you, me. I will say the genre of The Beatles.


Q:

Is Bo short for Bojangle?

A:

It's actually long for B.


Q:

When will we expect a picture of you sleeping from your exhausting AMA covered by paper.

A:

Once my sweetheart catches me slippin'


Q:

How do you feel about Louis C.K.?

A:

So underrated. He'll make it one day, though.


Q:

Do you smoke weed, Bo?

A:

no [7].


Q:

What's something you can give me for free?

A:

This.