Bo Burnham: Make Happy Review

Make Happy is the third comedy special from Youtube star, turned comedian Bo Burnham. His first special Words, Words, Words debut on Comedy Central on October 19th, 2010. To this day, Burnham is still the youngest comedian to receive a 1 hour special on Comedy Central at only 17, and at the time, one of the youngest to have an hour special produced whatsoever. Three years later, Bo would release his second special, this time self-produced, called What. on his Youtube channel, for free. Soon after, Netflix offered him a deal and What. became available for streaming. 

After well deserved critical acclaim, Bo was relatively quiet for a few years, until December 8, 2014, when Bo announced a new tour and in 2016, a comedy special from that tour. Enter the powerhouse that is Make Happy. 1 hour of pure, unbridled genius. As a performer at heart, Burnham uses the stage expertly, giving off a fantastic one-man show. 

With underlying themes of depression, mental health, and American deculturization throughout, Make Happy is one of the most personal, endearing, expertly crafted comedy specials of all time. Burnham is a masterful writer and performer, with musical talents shining brighter than ever. 

Cleverly written songs like “Pandering”, a parody of modern country music, or “Straight White Male” a satirical take on the problems one faces when “cursed” with being straight, white, and male. Yet, all these songs pale in comparison to the stunning and awe-inspiring finale “Can’t Handle This”, parodying Kanye West’s infamous 2014 “Nike Rant”. A nearly 8-minute soliloquy detailing the struggles of fame, overstuffed burritos, the width of Pringle cans, and ultimately, the struggles of living in the public eye. 

Despite his criticisms of the many byproducts of his fame and notoriety, they feed his ego and desire for attention. This internal struggle is the result of his contradictory feelings. He needs to entertain the audience, but he doesn’t want to succumb to the “Stage Persona” He’s given himself. 

After the final bow, we cut to Bo’s home studio, where he plays a song which is the most personal and intimate moment of the act, just for the viewer watching at home. “Are You Happy” sets out to leave the audience with a sense of hope. A hope to achieve what Bo so desperately wants… happiness. 

If you watch this and are looking for more, Bo’s other special What. is available for free on Youtube, and his film Eighth Grade is available as well.

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