Bo Burnham (5 stars)

This article is from 2010.

Bo Burnham

How can a guy with an organ be so good?

On the back of outlandishly glowing reviews from the heavyweight papers and keeping his expectant crowd waiting nearly half an hour after the start-time, it would be easy for the cynic to dismiss Bo Burnham. Maybe after all he’s just an over-hyped teen simply fortunate enough to have been born in an era when a guy can sit in his bedroom and knock out comedy tunes which can be accessed by millions. Could the guy in the front row with whom Burnham indulges in a bit of bird-flipping be part of the backlash, a subtle plant or an enthusiastic fan who went too far? Maybe only a quick trip back to see this show would answer that one; and, frankly, that would be a complete pleasure.

Walking on to ecstatic acclaim from his mainly young audience, Burnham commences by ripping up a bunch of newspapers (perhaps even containing the rave notices that could weigh him down with their great expectations?) before hitting us with the first of many excellent jokes, top-notch one-liners and hilarious haikus. Tune after tune of deft comedic wordplays are hammered out on his keyboard about being an artist in a cruel world, the slings and arrows of religion and the sweet taste of delicious irony, all of which expertly massage the funnybone and irresistibly exercise the toes.

Not sure if anyone is calling him the Orson Welles of stand-up comedy, but why not start here? A note to the Foster’s comedy judges: cancel your meetings, parcel up the Best Newcomer gong, attach it to the main prize, post it to Bo and let’s all just go home, OK?

Pleasance Dome, 556 6550, until 29 Aug, 9.35pm, £9.50–£10.50 (£8–£9).

Bo Burnham: Words, Words, Words

  • 5 stars

Bo Burnham is a 19-year-old American comedian making his debut at the Fringe with his show 'Words, Words, Words'. Bo performs songs that toy with language, showcasing his intricate wordplay and ability to pack jokes one on top of the other. In 'Words, Words, Words' you will hear songs, stand-up, haikus, statistics…


1. EdinburghMartin18 Aug 2010, 9:03am1 star Bo Burnham Report

Surprised that this show is getting such good reviews. The night I saw the show, it left the audience dead, except for two stalker-like young girls at the front who seemed hell-bent on flirting with him.

Aside from two good jokes and a smattering of audience banter, there was an occasional ripple of laughter, but on the whole, the show did nothing to raise even a smile.

Burnham's delivery of stand-up is off-kilter and badly structured, and his desire to be fast-paced means he loses his breath during songs.

There is absolutely nothing in this show that wasn't done before, and often better, by the likes of

Several times during the show he noted that the audience would find his material intellectual and/or offensive. No, not at all. Dull, stilted, and all done before.

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