Bo Burnham: What (4 stars)

A blisteringly big show from Boston’s Bo


This article is from 2013.

Bo Burnham: What

It’s three years since American prodigy Bo Burnham burst onto the Fringe stage with an incomparable show in an intimate Pleasance Dome room. He’s here for a shorter run in a much bigger venue and while you can’t blame him for reaping larger rewards in a shorter timeframe, a little has been lost in the art. While the more expansive theatrical elements to his new show fill the space perfectly, some of the intricate wordplay and the kind of song lyrics that made his name get a little lost in the expanse. But for genuine excitement, there won’t be anything quite like it on the comedy stage this month.

Although Burnham insisted that What would be a very different show to 2010’s Words Words Words, in both form and content there’s plenty common ground. We get the regular insistence that he is jumping in and out of character (he seems gracious and flattered to be here, but will throw in something contrary to that which leaves us not knowing how to take the next bit of humble behaviour), the flirting with his sexuality, and the one-line poem or single (dis)chord tune before he seamlessly moves on to the next bit.

But there are unquestionably plenty wonderful moments, such as the elongated spot of eye contact with someone in the front row, and the musical interlude which follows the ‘accidental’ knocking over of his water. It’s all big, clever and very funny, but you fear for how big this kind of act can go. Burnham could no doubt do a single night at the O2 and make more than several full Edinburgh runs put together. But let’s hope his sense of artistic credibility will never allow it.

Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, until 19 Aug (not 13), 11.15pm, £12–£13.50 (£11–£12.50).

This article is from 2013.

Bo Burnham: What

  • 4 stars

Following his smash hit, sell out show ‘Words, Words, Words’ in 2010, which won both the Edinburgh Comedy Award Panel Prize and a Malcolm Hardee Award, and received unprecedented rave reviews, comedy sensation Bo Burnham returns to the Fringe for a strictly limited run with his brand new show What. The youngest person…


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