If you’ve been reading my posts so far, you’re probably aware by now that I’m obnoxiously obsessed with comedy, and you can probably tell that I’ve been reaching really hard to try and connect it to literature in such a fashion that I can blog about it in this class so I can still get a good grade because technically I’m writing something that’s relevant to the course. Here’s another blog exactly like that.
Bo Burnham. Love him. An amazing stand-up comedian. Truly one of the most brilliant, talented young people in the industry. His first Comedy Central hour special was filmed four days after his eighteenth birthday. Bo was discovered on YouTube, basically the Justin Bieber of comedy, but with less leather. He can sing, act, dance, rap, play instruments, tell jokes, film, edit, and obviously write. In October, he released a book of poetry called “Egghead.”
Reading it through a comedic filter, I thought it was really funny. Reading it through the filter of a student who’s been in one-too-many workshop classes as an English major, I feel like my peers and professors would tear this apart. I know I did. Let’s workshop this.
If I had a million dollars, I would pay your mother
to have sex with me.
Afterward, I would probably invest the remaining nine hundred ninety-nine
thousand nine hundred ninety nine dollars.
Seriously? That’s a poem? That’s a published poem? That’s in a book of poems that was published? Okay. Let’s dissect this: This isn’t a poem. What’s up with those line-breaks? Are they intentional? Do they serve a purpose? Who is the narrator? Is the “I” the author or someone else? Who is the “you?” Does the mother represent something else? Something grander, more meaningful? Honestly, this seems like a joke that Bo was too embarrassed to say on stage. This is like a D-list joke. This is hardly even a joke. This is like a D-list tweet. This is published.
Let’s look at another one.
I’d like to propose a toast:
sourdough pumpkin bread.
I paid money for this book. Real money. We get it, Bo, you’re clever. But please, save it for the stage. No, don’t. People wouldn’t laugh. Tweet it. No, don’t. Just forget it. Sometimes you need to kill your babies. That’s what I feel this book is. I think this book is a collection of undeveloped thoughts that Bo cared too much about to throw away. He cared too much to throw them away so he put them in a pile, realized that he could use his celebrity status to get published and make some extra cash off of sorry saps like me. If I wanted to be surrounded by these types of “punny thoughts,” I’d go to my family’s Hanukah party in Ohio and sit at the kids’ table next to my eleven-year-old cousin with Aspergers. Bo is a genius. I know he can do better than this, because I just saw his latest special. Most of his jokes have depth on depth on depth- they really truly mean something to society as well as to the core of human emotion. His jokes aren’t just ha-ha funny, but they’re intellectually stimulating. And sure, there’s plenty of poems in here that are much longer that do end up striking a chord and having some magnitude, but the majority of the poems seem like filler.
Let’s look at one more poem:
I put a chameleon on a red dildo.
Let’s workshop this: This isn’t a poem.
Overall, if these “poems” were submitted by someone with a name other than “Bo Burnham,” they would not be published, if not disregarded completely. One of the things I’ve learned this quarter is that in order for a collection of poetry to be considered legitimately scholarly/academically accepted, each separate poem needs to be able to stand on it’s own in a completely different setting (journal, magazine, etc.) other than the current collection. While there are quite a few poems in here that are very well written, the majority of them would not be able to stand alone, therefore I deem this book as a weak collection, and, in an academic setting, an ultimate failure. I’m not saying I could do better, and I’m not saying that I didn’t think this was funny, but by simply applying the knowledge I’ve gained as an English major, these are the conclusions I’ve drawn.
I feel like I haven’t done Bo much justice with this post, and if you haven’t heard of him, I truly think he’s currently one of the most creative minds in the entertainment industry right now. Here is a link to his latest special. It is free. You won’t regret it.