Interview | Bo burnham | Bo Burnham discusses influences, new media
Published: Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, October 22, 2013 08:10
In anticipation of his latest book “Egghead: Or, You Can’t Survive on Ideas Alone,” Bo Burnham spoke with the Daily about his career, comedy, the book and everything in between.
TD: Tell us about the book.
BB: I guess the easy way to describe it is like a dirty Shel Silverstein. But Silver[stein] was dirty and for adults. I just grew up watching George Carlin and reading Silverstein, and I guess it’s the product of a kid who read Dr. Seuss and learned some new words and got cynical and sort of wrote a book!
TD: So you started on YouTube, and were lauded as the beginning of this new medium, and [since then] you’ve made your way through stand-up and more traditional media. Now you’re writing a book, which some people would say is the most traditional, the oldest entertainment.
BB: Yeah exactly, working from new media to old media. I’m going to do cave drawings soon.
TD: Is that something you’ve intended?
BB: I didn’t mean to, it just felt so cool when I felt like I could try these new little things. For me, it’s all under the same umbrella of just writing and performing in one way or another, and this is more writing, of course. It wasn’t that I was trying to tackle different mediums or anything as much as I felt like when I would try to stretch myself into another form, it would strengthen all of my other strengths. I would be doing my stand-up, so then I take some time off and write some poetry, and after writing poetry I’d want to come back and write stand-up again. It’s strange, you know. It’s not that I want to have a bunch of different things, like I want to design a water bottle next or something.
TD: Kanye Burnham?
BB: [Laughs] Yeah, exactly.
TD: What has your attitude toward Vine been?
BB: If three years ago someone had come up with Vine as a concept in a TV show, they would be considered the greatest satirist of fame. People get famous off of six second videos, two weeks later they would get a following and two weeks after that they would start making ads. It’s been kind of amazing, watching this great microcosm of Hollywood, or the fame system or whatever. It was always a stupid, fun thing for me and then all of a sudden it blew up to the point that little kids would come up to me on the street and be like, “Are you the guy from Vine?” and I felt like I had stumbled from one pigeonhole to another. I posted a Vine about my tour and the comments were like, “Man, Vines really change your life, letting you go on tour.”
TD: Kids these days.
TD: What do you think George Carlin would think of your generation of comedians?
BB: I don’t think my generation has blossomed yet. I still feel like the sort of youngest working comedian, and have felt like that for a while. I’m excited to see what everyone my age will do when they get the opportunity to do it. I’m sure they’re doing it [now], I’m sure they just haven’t had the exposure to be able to go around, but I’m excited. I think it’s going to be weird, and it’s going to be silly.
I worship Carlin, and Carlin could very well not like it and that’s okay. I’m hoping comedians that come up that are my age are going to be nice, and we’re going to be weird and out there and, hopefully, a little theatrical and a little stranger, because we are born from the internet and not necessarily comedy clubs, which are a little bit homogenizing.
TD: When and where can people get “Egghead”?
BB: Now. You can get it anywhere — bookstores, Amazon ... Go get it now!
TD: Awesome. What’s next for you?
BB: I’m not sure. Touring this hour [stand-up special] one last time, touring this new show [called] “what.” And then ... I’ll be staring into the abyss, and just have to come up with something else — that terrifying, fun time when I feel like I need to quit and hopefully don’t.
TD: We all hope you don’t either. Thanks so much, Bo.
BB: All right, thanks man.