Bo Burnham is in many ways a perfect figure to usher in this new wave of pandemic performance art. He is a figure of millennial endeavour, being a musical comedian who got his start on YouTube over a decade ago.
One of the original internet content creators, a type of job spearheaded by this generation, who will surely see the pandemic as a defining phase in their lives.
Burham’s unflinching honesty is the highlight of his special. Beyond his obvious lyrical and editing talents. What makes Inside really stand out is its detachment from linear comedy into unflinching openness. He uses his experience in lockdown to create something incredibly unique yet very relatable.
The use of time here plays a big part. From taking a skewer to the many socially relevant issues of the past year to showing unplanned moments of true vulnerability, Inside is a leap into the mind of a person the likes of which we haven’t seen on Netflix before.
The editing here creates authentic jokes all by itself. Burnham is clearly a filmmaker who knows how to utilise the techniques available to him to create visual comedy. I can’t tell you how much preferable it is to see variety in the skits rather than conventional stand up.
That isn’t to say Burnham’s writing is bad, most of his written comedy does land chuckles but the star of the show here is his creativity when it comes to visual gags.
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In terms of music, the humorous videos portrayed here do keep you entertained. There’s nothing so memorable you’ll be tapping your foot to when your mind wanders, but what keeps you engaged is the commentary. It’s likely people will remember the cultural impact of the pandemic for a long time, and visiting this further down the years will act as some form of time capsule.
Like I said, what makes this special so good is Bo Burnham’s honest approach. This is clearly a form of catharsis for him in some ways. You can tell that it has profound meaning to him and most likely with many others who suffered in lockdown. He says so much with what little is given to him.
You could almost compare it to a bottle episode of some long running online show with dissects the inner workings of our main lead, and through him can we reflect on what society had become as a whole.
What started as a one-man job to entertain millions transforms over time into a bleak and aching exploration of loneliness and the will to go on. In a world so unforgiving, soon to be lead by a generation with such unsurmountable odds against its favour, I think this special is more important than it ever tried to be.
For some reason, Inside is being re-released in cinemas. With most films I am very on board with this as I believe the cinematic experience is something to not be taken granted for. However, I think watching this in an open, exposed setting is counter intuitive to the point of the special. It’s meant to be relative to the intimate, lonely experience so many have went through in the last year.
With unique and timely directing solely produced by a very committed filmmaker, Inside is a profound and sobering exploration into a point of time that many are still coming to terms to.