Movie Review: Bo Burnham’s “Inside”

Madeleine Pogoda, Journalist

In a claustrophobic series of comedy songs, Bo Burnham’s Inside broke the internet with its unexpected debut with over 10 million views generated within the first two days on Youtube.

Bo Burnham, born Robert Burnham, is a well-known and accomplished stand-up comedian, known primarily for his past Netflix specials, and for his long hiatus from comedy. Burnham, hailing from Hamilton, MA, began his YouTube career in 2006.

Instead of taking the stage for his most recent special, Burnham shot and edited the film inside of his home in Los Angeles, capturing the experience of quarantine and being alone in the form of song and comedy.

Throughout the special, he talks about the struggles he endured, having to stay inside his home alone with his thoughts during quarantine. Many people can relate to him after being in lockdown throughout the past year, myself included. Having no in-person contact with friends and family was tough for me.

Being able to relate to the themes he discusses gives the special a unique and more heartfelt experience, and I found myself immersed fully into what was going on the whole way through. 

Burnham’s work received extraordinary feedback, winning three Emmys for the film. Inside also won Primetime’s Creative Arts Emmy Award for Outstanding Music Direction, Outstanding Writing For A Variety Special, and Outstanding Directing for a Variety Special, which all speak to the movie’s excellent concept and execution.

With menacing sound effects and dreamy camerawork, the special’s title seems to have a double meaning; not just being inside his room, but also inside of his mind.

Even though I have watched the special more than ten times, I cannot find something to criticize in it. Other people probably can, but I think that it is solid. The concept is accessible and interesting, the production is great, and the songs offer both laughs and food for thought.

In one of the songs, “Goodbye,” he sings about a struggle he had while making the special, which was filmed with no audience. “Hey, here’s a fun idea, how ‘bout I sit on the couch and I watch you next time. I wanna hear you tell a joke when no one’s laughing in the background.” I agree it would be hard to make jokes with no audience if you normally have one.

With no one laughing or cheering after a joke, he was probably less motivated to continue making the special. When I heard the line, I let out a laugh but then stopped when it hit me how hard it must’ve been for him. 

In another one of his songs, “Welcome to the internet” he sings about everyone being addicted to their phones, and how endless the internet can be. This is one of my personal favorites, and one of the most popular songs in the film.

Even though the special tackles some difficult issues and explores the mental impacts of quarantine, the musical is also chock-full of humor, such songs as “Bezos I” and “Bezos II”, which are fun satire pieces poking fun at the Amazon CEO. 

Although the special has dark moments, it is definitely worth watching. His humor is witty and smart which makes it all the better. In short, Inside is the story of a comic trying to make a funny show through quarantine, and gradually losing his mind.