Bo Burnham:What


Let me begin by saying that I think Bo Burnham is a phenomenal talent. I first saw him three years ago ad was wowed by the precautious confidence and sheer chutzpah of the nineteen year old who took that years Fringe by storm. Fast forward three years and he is still miles ahead and head and shoulders above the rest of the stand up comedy on show-his timing is impeccable, his facial expressions unsurpassable and energy all consuming- yet there is still something disappointing about this show.

 This year I have mainly avoided stand up as I feel it has held sway over the Fringe for too long and as a rule it is generally quite unfunny. Out at the weekend I was discussing this with a friend who commented that her big problem with it was that at some point every stands up resorts to a homophobic joke as a means of getting a cheap laugh. Well Bo Burnham didn’t make us wait too long for his references to ‘Faggots’ as he trundled it out near the start of his show.

Remarks about comedy staples such as ‘Jews’ and ‘Niggers’ came later and I am unsure why as I do not think Burnham is in anyway homophobic, racist or anti-semitic –quite the opposite actually- but using such terms of abuse is irresponsible at a late night show when a vast percentage of the audience are pissed up. I know it all comes under the umbrella of ‘irony’ but unfortunately that umbrella doesn’t shelter people when those words are hurled at them as a torrent of abuse.

 Griping aside, Burnham certainly works at this show from the off when he mimes cleverly to a rocking backing track. He slows things down-slightly- for poetic interludes but quickly snaps back to high energy mode without pausing for breath. His musical observations about One Beiber or Justin Direction- I can’t tell them apart either- were well realised as was just about everything else about this show but somehow it never attained the peaks it should have considering the talent Burnham has at his disposal.

 There is no question that Burnham is a major player in comedy circles. I often felt last night that not appreciating it as much as I felt I should have was down to a generational divide-the majority of the audience were under twenty five- but at the end I noticed that whilst a handful stood up in an ovation the majority stood up merely to leave. For that reason I find it hard to give this show a rating that is universal and have opted instead to give it four stars if you are under twenty five and still like base humour .  For anyone over this age with a more sophisticated palate it is unfortunately only a three star show.

Bo Burnham: What is on at 11.15pm at The Pleasance until August 19th

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