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BWW Blog: This Comedian Belongs on Broadway

He’s a stand-up comedian turned award-winning filmmaker. Here’s why he would fit perfectly in the Broadway community.

BWW Blog: This Comedian Belongs on Broadway

Eric Idle, Will Ferrell, Tim Minchin, Steve Martin. Those are just a few comedians who have had their work staged on Broadway. The latter two have actually been credited as influences for a young comedian who hasn't been on Broadway, but would not seem out of place if given the opportunity: Bo Burnham.

A natural-born performer who got his start on YouTube at the age of 15, Bo Burnham has made a name for himself as one of the most popular comedians of the last decade. He's also established himself as a very capable screenwriter and director, earning numerous accolades for his first feature film, "Eighth Grade". To top it all off, he's also a talented songwriter whose songs are an important aspect of his live shows.

Burnham's arrogant stage persona, use of blue comedy and anti-humor, and theatrical approach to his live performances have enabled him to separate himself from other comedians of the modern era.

BWW Blog: This Comedian Belongs on Broadway
Burnham reciting poetry in his comedy special "what."

But Burnham doesn't simply tell jokes and sing silly songs. He's a thespian in every sense of the word. Watching Bo Burnham perform means you're watching theatre. Every element of his live performances is carefully planned, well-rehearsed, and masterfully executed. Burnham clearly takes himself and what he does very seriously, regardless of how silly his material may be. In a way, his comedy specials are just hour-long musicals, only instead of sticking to a single narrative, they're made up of several different bits with songs in between them.

BWW Blog: This Comedian Belongs on Broadway
Burnham won the Writers Guild of America Award
for Best Original Screenplay in 2019 for "Eighth Grade".

When his directorial debut "Eighth Grade" was released in 2018, Burnham proved himself to be a mature storyteller. The film was praised for its realism, and Burnham won numerous accolades, even beating out several Oscar nominees in the Best Original Screenplay category at the Writers Guild of America Awards in 2019. That being said, if he can write stories that are as deep as they are funny and write songs to accompany them, Burnham would likely have no trouble writing a Broadway-caliber musical.

But what would a Bo Burnham musical look like? I believe it would be a mix of "Eighth Grade" and bits and pieces of Burnham's stand-up routines, and that would probably be similar to what you'd get if you were to combine "Dear Evan Hansen" with "Avenue Q". Weird, quirky, maybe a little offensive? Sounds right to me.

BWW Blog: This Comedian Belongs on Broadway
Burnham and Carey Mulligan in "Promising Young Woman"

Burnham took a break from performing live after the release of his Netflix special "Make Happy" in 2016. In fact,"Eighth Grade" is his most recent project as a writer, which really begs the question whether or not he has plans to follow it up with anything. Since its release, he's directed two comedy specials and starred in the dark comedy-thriller film "Promising Young Woman", but beyond that he hasn't been very busy during these last few years. Maybe there's a chance he has something up his sleeve, but for now he's not dropping any hints.

There's no telling what Burnham will do next. Before doing stand-up, he made YouTube videos in his bedroom. At one point, he dabbled in poetry, releasing a book called "Egghead: Or, You Can't Survive on Ideas Alone". He became an award-winning filmmaker. He's taken so many different creative paths during his career that it wouldn't be surprising if he took another huge leap and wrote a musical.

It also wouldn't be surprising if Ben Platt starred in said musical, because just look at this Twitter exchange.

BWW Blog: This Comedian Belongs on Broadway

Anyway, I wholeheartedly believe that Bo Burnham has what it takes to write a spectacular musical, and I wouldn't be surprised if wins a Tony someday.


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