Bo Burnham: Wikis


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Bo Burnham

Burnham performing at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, March 19, 2009 (2009-03-19).
Background information
Birth name Robert Burnham
Born August 21, 1990 (1990-08-21) (age 19)
Origin Hamilton, Massachusetts, USA
Genres Comedy, satire[1]
Occupations Singer–songwriter, actor
Instruments Vocals, guitar, electric piano, ukulele[2]
Years active 2006–present
Labels Comedy Central Records

Robert "Bo" Burnham (born August 21, 1990 (1990-08-21))[3][4] is an American comedian, singer-songwriter, musician, actor, and Internet celebrity. Writing comedic and satirical songs with a politically incorrect slant, his YouTube videos have received more than 52.2 million views as of October 2009.[5] His first EPBo Fo Sho—was released in June 2008 by Comedy Central Records, and his first full-length self titled album was released by the same label in March 2009. On January 31, 2010 it was announced that Burnham finished #2 overall in voting in 2010's Comedy Central Stand-up Showdown. [6]


Personal life

Bo Burnham was born the youngest of three on August 21, 1990 to Patricia and Scott Burnham.[1][7]

In February 2008, Patricia was a staff nurse at her youngest's school, and Scott owned a North Shore, Massachusetts construction company. Their two older children, Pete and Samm, were concurrently enrolled in their third and second years at Cornell University and Suffolk Law School, respectively.[1]

Bo attended the all-boys' Catholic high school, St. John's Preparatory School in Danvers, Massachusetts, where he was on the school honor roll and was involved in theatre and the campus ministry program. The school's assistant principal, Wendy Olson, remarked in a February 2008 interview that while "[t]he Bo on YouTube is not the Bo we see around here, [...] no one at St. John's is surprised at his creativity or that he's pursuing his dream, which is to make a name for himself." Burnham graduated from St. John's in Spring 2008.[1][7]

Burnham applied to New York University (NYU), University of Southern California (USC), and Yale University,[1] and was accepted to NYU's Tisch School of the Arts.[8] Although expected to begin attending in Autumn 2008,[9] he deferred his enrollment for a year to focus on his burgeoning media career.[3][10]


Home-grown music

Burnham was performing skits ("Bo Shows") in his home by age three, and grew up listening to boomer-generation comedians like George Carlin and Richard Pryor.[1]

As detailed by Burnham himself, 2006 was the beginning of what would become his musical comedy career. Rehearsing a play at St. John's that summer, Burnham began writing songs about teenage angst and debuting them to his fellow high school thespians. He then videotaped himself performing two songs and posted them to the video-sharing website YouTube in December 2006,[9] so that his older brother Pete could watch them from college. While response to his videos on YouTube ("My Whole Family... " and "My 'little' secret...") was initially unexceptional, when they were copied to they became an overnight sensation, with traffic to his videos multiplying over 111 times.[1]

Accompanying himself on guitar or electric piano, Burnham continued to release self-described "pubescent musical comedy"[9] songs and videos online as his fame and recognition grew. Described by The Boston Globe's Joseph P. Kahn as "simultaneously wholesome and disturbing, intimate in a folksy-creepy sort of way," Burnham wrote and released R-rated songs about white supremacy, Helen Keller's disabilities, homosexuality, and more.[1] All of Burnham's home-released videos were self-recorded in and around his family's home in Hamilton, Massachusetts, most in his bedroom. Occasionally jokingly addressing his audience in his videos, ("Hello, Internet pedophiles,") Burnham rarely changes expression or camera angle while performing—simply setting the video camera on a stack of books.[1][7]

In Autumn 2007, Douglas Edley, talent agent from The Gersh Agency,[11] had Burnham recommended to him by his assistant. The next day Edley called Burnham and told him: "I gotta represent you." Said Edley in a February 2008 telephone interview: "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."[1] It was this call from Edley—whom Burnham had initially thought to be "a very advanced Internet predator"—that was Burnham's wake-up call as to his potential professional success.[10] In addition to Burnham, Edley also represents several top-tier comedians, including Drew Carey and Dave Chappelle.[1]


Compared to Ben Folds, Eminem, and Andrew Dice Clay, Burnham's music and performances tackle such taboo subjects as race, gender, human sexuality, and sex.[12] 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 (2008-06-30)),[1][11] and signed a four-record deal with Comedy Central Records.[13] Comedy Central Records released Burnham's first EP, the six-song Bo Fo Sho, as an online release-only album on June 17, 2008 (2008-06-17).[8][9] Burnham's first full album, the eponymous Bo Burnham, was released by Comedy Central Records on March 10, 2009 (2009-03-10).[14]

Burnham has performed his music in the United States, including Cobb's Comedy Club, YouTube Live in San Francisco,[10] Caroline's Comedy Club in New York City,[8] and internationally in London and Montreal. Burnham describes his on-stage persona as a "more arrogant, stuck-up version [of] himself."[15] Bo has also received media coverage in magazines such as Teen Vogue.[16] In the fall of 2009 Burnham launched his first headline tour called "Fake I.D." performing in several theaters and college auditoriums.[17][18]


Burnham's first experience with controversy regarding his music came on March 3, 2009 (2009-03-03), 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." The Columbia Daily Tribune related that at the end of his Westminster performance, Burnham was approached by a paraplegic fan. While Burnham was plainly uncomfortable and nervous, given that his music mocks the handicapped, the young fan instead related a blonde joke to the teenaged musician. Despite the college's admission that they had booked Burnham while ignorant of his content, dean of students John Comerford praised the opportunities for discourse the controversy brought the school.[12][19]


While performing at the prestigious Montreal Just for Laughs festival in 2008,[8] Burnham met with the award-winning 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",[7][20] although Burnham insists the script isn't a parody of the Disney musicals, but an attempt to emulate the high school he attended. Hoping to star in the film he's writing, Burnham told Wired magazine that he's naming the star "Bo" in a "not-so-subtle hint [he] wants to be in it".[21] In a March 2009 (2009-03) interview with Boston's Weekly Dig, Burnham elaborated on his work with the film. When he isn't performing, the teenaged musician spends eight hours a day writing the music, and his nights writing the script, of which he's finished the first draft.[22] Burnham explained the script-writing opportunity is a boon to his comedy career, as the comedian had been having complications with censors and learning that his material wasn't well-suited to television. "It would work much better in a 90-minute format."[21]

In May 2009 (2009-05), 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.[23]

On April 16, 2010, Burnham will tape 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. The special will air sometime later in the year.[24]

Performance credits




  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Kahn, Joseph P. (2008-02-13). "Nonfamily humor, straight from home". The Boston Globe (Boston, Massachusetts, USA: P. Steven Ainsley). Retrieved 2009-01-25. "Irreverent songs win Hamilton youth a cult following" 
  2. ^ Connelly, Brendon (2009-06-11). "Bo Burnham and Judd Apatow’s Anti-High School Musical Wants Your Help". /Film. Retrieved 2009-06-16. 
  3. ^ a b Hastings, Katy (2008-10-13). "Teen Comic Signs Hollywood Deal". Sky News Online (London, England, United Kingdom: Sky News). Retrieved 2009-01-25. 
  4. ^ Bo, Burnham (2008-08-20). "Facebook | Bo Burnham just so everyone knows, my birthday is tomorrow. but thanks for the early wishes! you know what would be a great present? 100,000 people on this thing. or i can just shut the fuck up...agreed.". Facebook. Palo Alto, California, USA: Facebook, Inc. Retrieved 2008-08-21. 
  5. ^ "YouTube - boburnham's Channel". YouTube. San Bruno, California, USA: Google Inc.. Retrieved 2009-10-01. 
  6. ^ "Comedy Central Stand-Up Showdown results, 2010". Retrieved 2010-02-01. 
  7. ^ a b c d Kit, Borys (2008-09-25). "Singing comic joins Apatow clan". The Hollywood Reporter. Los Angeles, California, USA: Nielsen Company. Retrieved 2009-01-25. 
  8. ^ a b c d e Giltz, Michael (2008-07-26). "Young comedian Bo Burnham is heading up charts". Daily News (New York City, USA: Mortimer Zuckerman). Retrieved 2009-01-25. 
  9. ^ a b c d e Wortham, Jenna (2008-06-11). "YouTube Star Bo Burnham Readies Debut EP, Bo Fo Sho". Wired. San Francisco, California, USA: Condé Nast Publications. Retrieved 2009-01-25. 
  10. ^ a b c Hartlaub, Peter (2008-10-16). "Teenage angst has paid off well for Bo Burnham". San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco, California, USA: Frank J. Vega). Retrieved 2009-01-25. 
  11. ^ a b Olson, Kris (2008-07-03). "Ready, set … Bo! (Burnham, that is)". The Patriot Ledger (Quincy, Massachusetts, USA: Rick Daniels). Retrieved 2009-01-25. 
  12. ^ a b c Gottlieb, Jed (2009-03-09). "Bo-dacious comedy: Hamilton’s Burnham moves from the bedroom to Hollywood". The Boston Globe (Boston, Massachusetts, USA: P. Steven Ainsley). Retrieved 2009-03-09. 
  13. ^ Ingram, Matthew (2008-09-26). "Bo Burnham: Teenaged YouTube star" (in English). The Globe and Mail (Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Phillip Crawley). Retrieved 2009-01-25. 
  14. ^ a b Comedy Central Records (2009-02-18). "COMEDY CENTRAL Records(R) to Release 'Bo Burnham' CD/DVD on March 10". PR Newswire. New York, United States. Retrieved 2009-02-18. 
  15. ^ Johnson, Nick (2009-02-05). "Internet celebrity pushes envelope in performance". The Daily Collegian (University Park, Pennsylvania, USA: Pennsylvania State University). Retrieved 2009-02-05. 
  16. ^ "Comedy Central". Teen Vogue. Retrieved April 10 2009. 
  17. ^ "Bo Burnham announces national tour". Punchline Magazine Blog. 2009-07-31. Retrieved 2010-05-15. 
  18. ^ "Bo Burnham: Fake ID Tour". Wharton Center for Performing Arts. East Lansing, Michigan, USA: Michigan State University. 2009. Retrieved 2010-02-15. 
  19. ^ Greaney, T.J. (2009-03-04). "In-your-face comedy". Columbia Daily Tribune (Columbia, Missouri, United States: Henry J. Waters III). Retrieved 2009-03-09. "YouTube phenom Bo Burnham prompts protests at Westminster." 
  20. ^ Hall, Julian (2008-11-14). "Rising Star: Bo Burnham, comedy actor". The Independent (Dublin, Ireland: Independent News & Media). Retrieved 2009-01-25. 
  21. ^ a b Wortham, Jenna (2008-10-01). "YouTuber Bo Burnham Scripting New Judd Apatow Movie". Wired (United States: Condé Nast Publications). ISSN 1059-1028. Retrieved 2009-05-30. 
  22. ^ Clark, Andrew (March 2009 (2009-03)). [[catpath]/200903/bo-burnham# "Bo burnham"]. Boston's Weekly Dig (Boston, Massachusetts, USA: Jeff Lawrence).[catpath]/200903/bo-burnham#. Retrieved 2009-03-06. 
  23. ^ Connelly, Brendon (2009-05-28). "Funny People Viral Marketing: Yo Teach!". /Film. Retrieved 2009-05-31. 
  24. ^ a b COMEDY CENTRAL Corporate Communications (2010-02-22). "Comedian Bo Burnham to Tape First-Ever Special at the Newly Branded COMEDY CENTRAL's House of Comedy Live From House of Blues in Boston on Friday, April 16. The Performance Will Air As An Original One-Hour Special in Fall 2010". PR Newswire. Retrieved 2010-02-23. 
  25. ^ Mudhar, Raju (2009-07-12). "Bo knows musical comedy". Toronto Star (Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Torstar). ISSN 0319-0781. Retrieved 2009-07-21. "With a Comedy Central special and an Apatow movie in the works, young Burnham sees plenty of room for growth" 
  26. ^ a b Shanahan, Mark; Paysha Rhone (2009-01-07). "From YouTube to Hollywood". The Boston Globe (Boston, Massachusetts, USA: P. Steven Ainsley). Retrieved 2009-01-30. 

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Bo Burnham at CWRU, 2009-03-19.jpg

Bo Burnham (born August 21, 1990) is an American singer-songwriter and Internet celebrity.


  • I always wanted to be a comedian and actor, [...] I basically stumbled into the music medium, though. I'm OK, but that's about it. I like to think I'm good enough not to negatively affect the performance.
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