Bo Burnham an exciting choice for SPB fall campus comedy show, even taking into account politically incorrect record

| Managing Editor

Continuing its streak of excellent comedy selections (or at least well-intentioned comedy selections—looking at you, Kenan Thompson), Social Programming Board announced last night that comedian/musician Bo Burnham would headline this fall’s campus comedy show. Burnham’s tongue-in-cheek brand of musical comedy will no doubt make for a popular performance on Sept. 9.

Burnham first achieved fame the same way so many young stars do: on YouTube, where he started posting original comedic songs in 2006 at the ripe, old age of 16. His earliest videos—all shot in his bedroom with just him on a guitar or keyboard—garnered some significant attention, including that of Comedy Central, who brought him on the show “The World Stands Up” in early 2008 and signed him to a four-record deal soon after. It was in mid-2008 that Burnham truly exploded, dropping his first comedy EP, “Bo Fo Sho,” as well as his YouTube smash hit, “I’m Bo Yo,” an amusingly egotistical and off-color rap packed with brilliant puns and not-so-PC references. Since then, the now-25-year-old Massachusetts native has put out a self-titled full-length album, released two fantastic stand-up specials, made a few TV appearances and toured the continent several times over. Meanwhile, “I’m Bo Yo” now boasts 23 million YouTube views and counting.

An oft-cited favorite among the teen and college-aged set, Burnham’s selection will surely be well received by most Wash. U. students. Burnham’s use of music in his stand-up is innovative and engaging, and his satirical and somewhat absurdist brand of humor keeps audiences on their toes.

That said, Burnham has also sparked controversy in the past (particularly on college campuses) due to his irreverent treatment of topics like race, gender, sexuality and religion. Burnham is an equal-opportunity offender, though, satirizing society’s discomfort with these controversial topics through heavy use of irony. Not unlike Stephen Colbert, Burnham’s onstage persona leans toward that of a politically incorrect blowhard, an unexpected character that transforms his comedy from cringe-worthy to comical. If you still find his past work offensive, it’s worth mentioning that Burnham’s more recent work has toned down the objectionable jokes in favor of more generally absurd humor, poking fun at topics like show business, the media and, of course, himself.

In spite of past controversies, Burnham’s on-campus performance is sure to be a crowd-pleaser. If you’re not familiar with his work, check out Burnham’s latest special, 2013’s “what.” on YouTube or Netflix before heading to Graham Chapel on Sept. 9.