Read our exclusive interview with comedian/actor/singer-songwriter Bo Burnham, who performed at The Syndicate’s Conflict of Interest Party at Rebel NYC in Manhattan, NY on October 18. He discussed with us, among other things, who his comedic influences are and why he wanted to perform at Conflict of Interest.
Shockya (SY): You’re only 20, and you’ve already an accomplished comedian, actor and singer-songwriter. Why did you wan to start a career in the entertainment industry?
Bo Burnham (BB): Oh, because I’m a bad person, self-centered, I just want attention. That’s the truth! Everyone will say something different. But we’re bad, bad people, and I will either spend eternity in hell or something.
SY: You’re known for writing satirical songs. What attracted you to touch on political subjects in your songs?
BB: Oh, I don’t know. It’s kind of like, the higher they are, the bigger they’ll fall. In comedy, falling means laughter. You can take something sacred and make it silly. The more sacred it is, the funnier it is. It has a bigger drop to fall.
SY: Who are some of your comedic influences?
BB: George Carlin, Tim Minchin, Sean Cullen. Lots of dudes, too many to name. Steve Martin.
SY: In January, you finished second in Comedy Central’s Stand-Up Showdown. What was that feeling like when you found out you placed so high in the competition?
BB: Oh, I unplugged the automatic voting machine and went to bed.
SY: Your YouTube videos have received over 60 million hits. Why do you think your videos receive so much attention?
BB: Oh, I wish I knew, I wish I knew the viral code to crack. I get hits, and then a kitten falling out of a tree gets twice as many hits. Maybe because I’m half amount of danger. I just want to be that kitten in the tree.
SY: Your comedy has received some criticism from other comics. What do you have to say to people who protest your work?
BB: Boo-rah, shame shame, go away! I put my fingers in my ears and say “La la la la la.”
SY: You’re performing here at the Conflict of Interest Party. What attracted you to this event?
BB: Free microphones, I think they were giving away free microphones. That’s what I heard.
SY: You appeared in last year’s ‘Funny People.’ What was it like working with Judd Apatow and his crew?
BB: They were great, they were really nice dudes that just hang around and make movies. It’s so cool, so low-key, they make you feel so non-pressured. It was awesome.
SY: What advice do you have for people wanting to break into comedy?
BB: I would say research comedy as much as you can. Find a favorite comedian and watch them. Figure out why you like them, and why he writes what he writes. Just write and write and perform and keep finding your voice. When you get comfortable with somthing, stop it and change. I think that’s the best way to do it, but I could be wrong.
SY: Where do you get your inspiration for writing and performing?
BB: I don’t know. I don’t draw from life experiences. Nothing’s true that I say, because I don’t really want to say anything. I don’t think my life’s that cool, and I don’t think my opinion’s that valid. They’re just silly jokes. Usually I just take a topic that isn’t funny at all, like Shakespeare, and work backwards. I just try to find an unfunny subject.
Written by: Karen Benardello