Bo Burnham: Words Words Words Review

Early in his first stand up special, Bo Burnham sings a song asking "What's funny?" He spends the next hour throwing out all forms of comedy trying to see what sticks and what doesn’t. Bo's comedy stylings are an amalgamation of Stephen Lynch's musical talents, Demetri Martin's awkward quirks, and Daniel Tosh's biting sarcasm. Though, quite honestly he doesn't do any of those things with the same level of proficiency of any of his counterparts. However, when combined together the result is a particular brand of comedy that when it works it REALLY works and when it doesn’t…well, its not good.

He starts his set playing a piano, by more or less playing a small melody and rhapsodizing about himself and telling a few jokes, I suppose this qualifies as a warm up. From then on there seems to be little rhyme or reason to his set progression. Starting with the piano interlude he jumps to a quick stand-up portion, before grabbing a guitar and continuing his half singing-half stand up routine, just with a different instrument. This random jumping from bit to bit continues without end. It's a novelty at the start, but by the end of the show it's just plain annoying. Burnham also loves misdirection jokes and nearly every third joke has a punch line that is so out of line with the setup that it completely destroys any flow and rhythm and most of them fall flat anyway.

The one portion of the show that had any semblance of structure was Burnham's "One Man shows" where he acted out excerpts from fake one man shows that he has purportedly performed in the past. Some of them were quite funny, especially the one about Charlie Brown being molested….yes, you read that last sentence right, just trust me. One wonders if this might become one of Burnham's staples going forward.

There are a few other interesting and funny parts of this special, but they are buried within this amalgamation of random and unfunny jokes and bits that can best be described as "ADD comedy". Burnham's herky-jerky style probably best appeals to those people who wouldn't have enough concentration and patience to actually sit down for an hour to watch the special itself. It's too bad too, because at times Burnham does show talent and promise with both his rhyme scheme and ability to recite Shakespeare verbatim. His "Shakespeare's porn sonnet" is BRILLIANT, but he very quickly moves away from it to slip back into another faux-rap that doesn't make any sense.

Perhaps if he tried to hone his set a little more, and maybe whittle away some of the random battle raps this would all seem more engaging. He certainly has proficiency with a number of different instruments, but he jumps between them so many times that its hard to ever get a read of just how great of an overall artist and musician he is.

If you watched Bo Burnham's Words Words Words special on Comedy Central and enjoyed it, but were bummed out that you couldn't hear the profanity, then I guess this DVD is for you. If you didn't like it the first time, trust me its not the type of comedy that grows on you, at all. Plus, I get the feeling this is the type of special that will be featured on Comedy Central late nights and weekends repeatedly for the next two years. That is until Bo gets his own stand-up/variety show ala Demetri Martin. Call it a gut feeling, but we're headed for that in the near future.

DVD Bonus Features

The special features are incredibly sparse, with the only offerings being two music videos of songs that are featured in the special itself. There really isn’t any improvement over the delivery of the two songs during the stand up special and both are more amalgamations of random images and Bo himself dancing around. They fit perfectly into his manic and random style. There are no outtakes or other featurettes about Burnham which is a bit of a shame. For a young new comedian trying to gain a fan base and exposure, those types of features would have done well to provide first time watchers some insight into the young comedian.

"Bo Burnham: Words Words Words" is on sale November 16, 2010 and is not rated. Comedy. Directed by Shannon Hartman. Written by Bo Burnham. Starring Bo Burnham.

Tom Hoeler
My major goals in life include proving to people that liking a movie and thinking is good are not the same, that watching black & white films will not reave your soul, and to one day organize my DVD collection (I have a strong desire against giving up my DVDs or their cases) autobiographically, High Fidelity, style.


New Reviews