Robert Pickering ‘Bo’ Burnham is an American comedian, singer-songwriter, musician, rapper and actor who rose to fame through YouTube and achieved himself a celebrity status among the masses. He created his first YouTube video accidentally without any serious intent of achieving fame in 2006 and it went viral, and the overall views on his videos have crossed 150 million. Comedy Central signed him on in 2008 for a four year deal to create four musical comedy EPs for them, and Bo released his very first studio album in the next year and it was received well. He then went on further with his musical and comical endeavours and earned himself more popularity at a very early age. Apart from music and comedy, Bo has been into acting as well, and has been a part of several successful films and televisions shows. Bo Burnham is one of those very few new generation celebrities who started small through small homemade videos and ended up making it big. In his free time, Bo performs stand ups and takes care of his YouTube channel by constantly uploading funny satires and videos.
Childhood & Early Life
Bo Burnham was born in Massachusetts, USA on 21st August 1990 to a construction company owner, Scott, and a nurse, Patricia. He is youngest of the three children in the Burnham family, and hence the most pampered since his early childhood. Bo attended the all boys St. John Preparatory school in his hometown, where he was on a school honor roll.
Bo had a knack for performing arts, especially comedy, since his early childhood and he would record videos mimicking his family members on a camcorder. In school, he got himself very busy with theatre and even without any professional training, he was considered as the best actor in school.
Bo started performing skits at the age of 3 in front of his family and as his parents were huge fans of stand-up comedians such as Richard Pryor and George Carlin, Bo started idolizing them. While in high school, Bo would entertain his classmates with self-written political and social satire songs, and upon their insistence, he started making videos and putting them up on YouTube, which was just an emerging platform in those times.
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In 2006, high on confidence after getting praised for his songs in school, Bo shared two videos with his distant friends and family. Those videos became so popular that Break.com copied them, and Bo became an overnight celebrity and the views multiplied by hundred on those videos.
Motivated by the response, Bo kept putting more songs online and centred most of them on the themes of racism, homophobia, physical disabilities and many similar themes. His fan base kept growing and Bo kept making videos until the first big break arrived his way.
In January 2008, Bo got his first big break in the form of ‘The World Stands up’ for Comedy Central and his work was so entertaining that Bo went on signing a four record deal with them. In a span of few months, Bo’s very first EP titled ‘Bo Fo Sho’ was out for digital download and in 2009, he released his very first fully fledged album titled ‘Bo Burnham’.
Since then, Bo has performed live against the audiences at many places in United States in San Francisco and New York City and went international with shows in London and Montreal. At the Edinburgh Comedy Awards 2010, Bo received a nomination for the Best Comedy Show for his stint ‘Words, Words, Words’. He missed the award, but got the Panel Prize.
Bo added two new names in his discography, ‘What.’ And ‘Make Happy’ in 2013 and 2016 respectively and kept touring around with his performances while making an impact as an actor as well.
Bo’s first gig as an actor came in 2008, when he had the chance to meet Judd Apatow, a popular Hollywood director and producer. The Universal Studio project, which was supposed to be an ‘anti-high school musical’, was eventually scrapped and Bo got disheartened. Bo was hired to write the screenplay for the film and worked really hard on it.
In 2009, he appeared in the show ‘Funny People’ in which he was seen playing a student. In 2010, Burnham recorded a one hour stand-up special for Comedy Central’s project ‘House of Comedy’, for which several other stand ups were hired. The show got released in October 2010 and met with accolades.
Bo’s second special titled ‘What’ came out in 2013 on Netflix and YouTube garnering more than a million views on both the video streaming websites. Netflix signed him on for ‘Make Happy’ which got released in June 2016.
Bo has also played the role of an executive producer, apart from being the writer for ‘Zach Stone Is Gonna Be Famous’, which ran just for one season due to the lack of ratings and TRPs kept the producers away from producing a second season.
Some of the other shows he has been a part of are, ‘Parks and Recreation’, ‘Key and Peele’, ‘Hall Pass’ and ‘We Bare Bears’.
Bo Burnham has maintained that he is single, and his dating history is also largely unknown. Considering the fact that he supports homosexuality quite furiously in his shows, the rumours are around that he might be gay.
Bo has always been interested in Experimental Theatre and even pursued a career in it while studying in New York’s Tisch School of Arts but dropped out one year later, to pursue a full time career in comedy.
In 2009, a dozen Westminster University students protested against one of his concerts saying he was making fun of minorities through his ‘gags’. Bo was emotionally affected with the accusations and said that he is doing a social service by making people aware of the issues through humour and people connect well with that. Bo’s stand was appreciated by the media.