The Daily Gamecock

Commencement Issue: Comedian Bo Burnham talks about his creative process, comedy


On Friday, April 24, 2015, Bo Burnham performed at the Koger Center for University of South Carolina students. Burnham is a well-known comedian, actor, musician and poet; and he has been featured on Comedy Central and MTV.

He has recorded three live comedy specials: "Words Words Words," "Make Happy" and "what." "Make Happy" was released as a Netflix exclusive. 

Hosted by Carolina Productions, the event was free to USC students, faculty and staff with a valid CarolinaCard.

Ahead of his performance, The Daily Gamecock talked with him about his love for music, where his comedy style comes from and his thoughts on self-promotion and the modern artist.

The Daily Gamecock: How do you implement a theatre background and a performance mindset into your comedic acts?

Bo Burnham: Yeah, I mean, I’ve always loved theatre and performance and all that stuff. And yeah, a lot of American acts — American comics and stuff — aren’t, you know — it’s very stripped down and not very theatrical. There’s a lot of European and Australian comedians who are very large and theatrical and sort of incorporate lighting cues and sound cues, so I was able to kind of jack it from them. But, yeah, I mean, you kind of incorporate however you want just because the only rule is you need to stand on stage and be funny, so as long as they’re laughing you can kind of do what you want. Easier said than done. [Laughs]

TDG: What’s a question you wish an interviewer would ask you?

BB: Ooh — I don’t know, you’ve got good ones. I don’t really sit around wishing they’d ask me things. [Laughs] You know I don’t do too many of stuff like this. I’m not one of those people who’s constantly complaining about the questions they get asked — just quit your job then, you loser. [Laughs] If your biggest problem is the fact that questions in your interviews might be slightly redundant, you have one of the greatest lives in the world.

TDG: Have you ever thought of material and thought, “Damn, I’m so funny — this is gold"?

BB: Uh, no. [Laughs] Yeah, no. Maybe things in the moment, but it doesn’t feel like that ever. It doesn’t feel like, you know — it’s just writing takes a lot of time and so when it happens or something works it doesn’t feel like, “Oh my God, I’m such a genius,” it feels like, “Well thank God I thought of that, potentially,” you know what I mean? It doesn’t feel like writing or telling jokes — it feels like mining. You know, I spent eight hours as a miner trying to find something. It’s not like “Oh look at me, I’m a savant, I know exactly what’s funny,” it’s like, “No, I was down here for eight hours — thank God I found something."

Read the full version of this interview, published in 2015.


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