Hello there! Thanks for having me. I'm a comedian. I just released a new special here.

Proof: https://twitter.com/boburnham/status/745348742329446400

edit: Thank you for all the lovely questions! It was great talking with you guys. Have a good summer!

Comments: 7376 • Responses: 68  • Date: 

SethReineke2667 karma

Bo, there seem to be a lot of speculation that Make Happy (especially the ending) hinted that you're potentially putting stand-up to bed for a while. Is there any truth to this speculation?

bomakehappy3599 karma

Definitely going to take some time off for a while. I'm a little tired of myself and I'd love to write things for other people. The sort of "goodbye" ending of the special has much heavier reasons for wanting to leave which are a portion of but not the whole reason.

_RiddleMeThat1653 karma

Can we know what this deeper meaning is?

bomakehappy4676 karma

I don't know, CAN YOU?

basedborys1946 karma

How much did your role in Parks and Rec as Chipp McCapp influence the pandering country song in Make Happy?

bomakehappy2828 karma

The whole reason I wrote the song was because I had so much fun doing a stupid country voice on Parks. And I felt like I had a different enough angle on skewering country that Mike Schur wouldn't sue me. And looking good so far!

ohsodoff1933 karma

Are you happy?

bomakehappy4437 karma


Jaro_The_Man_Killa1728 karma

Hey Bo, I went to college with a kid from Hamilton who says that when you were in elementary school together, you stabbed him with a pencil, leaving some graphite that is still there to this day. I always thought he was full of shit. Are you, or are you not, the pencil stabbing comedian?

Edit for some exposure: Here's the Bo Burnham subreddit: /r/boburnham

bomakehappy2616 karma

hahaha! If the person you're talking to is named Jon, then he stabbed HIMSELF with that pencil. I was sick that day and it was tied to his desk because he was always losing his pencils and one day he knocked it off the desk and it stuck into his leg. No joke.

Kayonthecob1724 karma

Are you legitimately upset about not being able to fit your hand into a Pringle can?

bomakehappy4435 karma

You know a lot of bullshit pringles apologists have been coming out of the woodwork sending me shit like this. A folded piece of computer paper? Are these people out of their fucking minds?

zbojan974 karma

Lol, computer paper. <3

bomakehappy2089 karma

oh god am i old or something?

zbojan1884 karma

Much like good wine, you're overpriced, bottled, and frequently spit out by the French. j/k they swallow

bomakehappy2017 karma


caedas111538 karma

You said in your last Netflix special that it was insanely difficult to put that act together, but people like Louis CK do it on a much more consistent basis and that is insane to you.

My question is, how did you handle your newest special in terms of breaking it up so that the material felt fresh while not burning yourself out?

I loved Make Happy. It was absolute genius in my opinion, thank you for all you do to make people laugh!

bomakehappy1671 karma

Thanks for the kind words! In making this show, I hired some actual tech guys for this first time -- Joe Werner for sound and Chris Galante for lighting. And we basically toured with the exact same production that's in the special. So being able to work and collaborate with them on the road kept things really fresh for me. After every show we'd talk about what cues worked and what didn't - so the tech of the show was able to workshopped just like the material was workshopped. I don't know if this is specifically answering your question or not, but they were great and crucial to the show and kept the material fresh and exciting far longer for me than if I had done it myself.

summiticecream1396 karma

The lighting and camera angles during the Kanye song were crazy good. I still can't stop thinking about how cinematic your special was.

bomakehappy1452 karma

Thanks dude. Credit for that also has to go to Andrew Wehde, the DP, and Chris Storer, the co-director.

slm4141529 karma

Do you think you might ever write something like Zach Stone again? It was brilliant and I believe if it had been broadcast on a different channel it would never have been cancelled.

bomakehappy2483 karma

Thanks, that's very sweet. Yeah, I'd love to if the right idea comes along. I had a blast making Zach Stone. And MTV sexualizes children! What? Who said that?

winterwinterwinterr1280 karma

Bo, oh my god. Where is the Make Happy album?

bomakehappy2094 karma

Not coming for a while (or maybe at all). There's a bunch of weird legal stuff in the way of making it, which I don't totally mind because I think the show should be watched and heard together. But there's a bunch of audio rips out there that you can download if you want to. Sorry!

imbatman_yo1231 karma

Which of all your songs is closest to your heart?

Also love your stuff man. Didn't expect to get emotional during make happy but yeah it was fantastic

bomakehappy3785 karma

The Kanye bit at the end of this last special is the one I think I’m happiest with. There’s no need to go into specifics, but after my last special ‘what.’, I started to have panic attacks while on stage, and it made performing really stressful and terrifying for a little while. And so I wanted to try to find a way to talk about that. It’s the bit I’m most proud of because it came from something I was pretty ashamed of and didn’t even really want to admit to myself. And performing it actually made me feel less anxious because now my anxiety was part of the show. Rather than being this anvil hanging over my head on stage that could drop at any moment, this thing I had to just ignore and power through, it became part of the story. Once I gave it a purpose it receded a bit. A bit.

Sassy_Cinnabon2233 karma

You're so Brave™, Bo. I'm glad you finally let us hear you Roar™.

bomakehappy3150 karma

Welcome to my hell.

itsjasonm81203 karma

Just like your last special, "what", you had a joke just for the Netflix live version. What did you tell the audience during you taking the sweater off?

bomakehappy2213 karma

I did that part during the encore of the second show when everything was done. I just told them I was gonna fuck around and try something and this won't make sense but it'll take 10 seconds. I've been surprised how few people have noticed the continuity error though. The editor didn't notice it and he watched it 50 times.

Nbtful1168 karma

Do you consciously try to evolve with each progressive special or do you think that each is just a reflection of who you are at the time of recording?

bomakehappy2037 karma

Great question! I think it's much more a reflection of me at the time. My three specials happened when I was 19, 22 and 25 - and I think that's a time when everyone is sort of figuring out what they think about things and changing their minds every six months. So I try to just embrace that.

awrenz848 karma

I really love this acknowledgement because every time you release something I'm a little bit different and older and (maybe) wiser. I'm really keen on your content because I feel like I've done so much growing up with it, as cliche as that sounds. I like that this art or comedy, or whatever the fuck it'll be, is constantly evolving with you and us even though we are consistently separate.

bomakehappy1202 karma

thanks dude. Yeah I'd like to think there are people who are cringing at my older stuff like I am but can like the stuff I do now. And we can all cringe at this stuff later when we're older and wiser.

Linmark996 karma

I caught the celeri but dropped the beet

Musical genius right there already, don't worry

bomakehappy1178 karma


MickTheAnt1027 karma

You stated you wanted to start writing material for people other than yourself (IE other people who sing better than you) -- do you have an ideal medium preference for that? Standup? TV? Movie?

(Also-- I was Ian's assistant who helped record Words Words Words at Caroline's! Hey!)

bomakehappy2437 karma

Hey man! It's been 6 years, hope you're well. I'd love to write a musical. It'd be so great to be able to write songs from people who are built to perform. I have to write songs for my limited range and lung capacity. I'd also love to write a song for demi lovato or something. All the top 40 songs have such awful lyrics for no reason. It'd be nice to have some cool/weird ones that are phrased well.

ArchReaper952 karma

Bo, I'm the same age as you and i've been watching your work since high school when you were a brand new Youtube sensation.

Every special you put out seems to resonate very strongly with me and where I have been mentally throughout the years, and Make Happy was no exception.

There's a bit in the new special about you simply being an overpaid service industry professional, and I've also heard you say similar remarks in interviews. I think that is ludicrous. Your show is so much more than simply a "comedy special" - you blend comedy with real, raw emotions (whether staged or genuine) and speaks to people in a much stronger way than a "typical" comedian does.

As someone who has personally gone through depression, I cried at the end of your new special. I replayed that last bit literally 8-10 times that day. There's not a lot of entertainers, in any industry, that can connect on such a direct, pure emotional level with people in that way.

I hope that, whatever work you do in the future, you continue to be yourself and produce the content that you think you should produce. I don't know Bo (ha) but (based on the service-industry comment) I feel like you do not give yourself enough credit for the voice you have and the real connection you have to your audience.

Do you have any ideas or plans on where or what you want to do next?

bomakehappy1033 karma

Thank you, this is very thoughtful and kind. I'm sorry to hear you've struggled with depression, I never have, and wouldn't claim to, but I've had people in my life who have and I've dealt with separate feelings of anxiety. The truth is, about the "service industry" comment, is I don't see that as a slam. Or a downplay. I think it's a wonderful thing to be of service to other people. And entertainers should try to see themselves as in the service industry. We're hear to give people something. That's a good thing I think. And who knows what's next! Just sort of cooling off from this. Thanks again for the thoughtful comment. Very appreciated.

LargePeas908 karma

what have you been doing with yourself post make happy?

bomakehappy2612 karma

Hanging with my dumb dog and trying to get this weird little movie made maybe. I've also started exercising in an attempt to finally become a man!

Iocabus878 karma

How hard is it making and finding friends and girlfriends because of your stage persona? How do they react to you out of character?

bomakehappy3170 karma

It's hard making girlfriends because of my current girlfriend. But making friends, no. I have a small group of friends that I've known for a long time (before all this started). And most of my friends I think are more surprised by me "in character" than "out of". I'm not like I am on stage in real life. I hope to god I'm not that'd be awful.

arsonist_in_flames875 karma

Who are your favourite pianists?

bomakehappy2158 karma

Oh god I'm a hack I have no idea. Schroeder?

cpriper845 karma

What's the mark on your face from?


bomakehappy3232 karma

From birth. The first thing you're supposed to see when a baby comes out is the top of its head. I came out FACE FIRST. That is a scar from my mother's pelvic bone smacking me in the face. Need any more deets about my mom's pussy?

heyjoetodd812 karma

Hey Bo,

Saw you in Toronto and you told the audience to collectively crack their knuckles.

Did you do that for the show in New York? Why was it cut?

Hope you're happy. You're very intelligent and hilarious.

bomakehappy1244 karma

That was something I actually saw done in a video posted here. So I didn't really come up with it so I wouldn't want to put it in the special. But it was fun to do every night.

SuperPie64778 karma

Hey Bo! Thanks for doing this AMA! You've said you like to keep a big difference between your real self and your 'on-stage' persona, but do you feel you sort of combined the two near the end of Make Happy?

bomakehappy1551 karma

Yeah, I think so, in a way. I mean it's still a very exaggerated, very concentrated, very dramatized version of a real emotion. I think people tend to latch on to the "serious" stuff as more "truthful," but it's all the same sort of weird version of honesty for me. I don't know, it's tough to explain and I don't really have a good answer for it. A lot of it was just about what felt right more than, okay, now I'm gonna hit em with the fucking TRUTH.

riverscuomosolos741 karma

Hey Bo, I met a girl at a bar in NYC who said she gave you a bj in high school because she knew you were going to be famous. Thought you'd get a kick out of that. How was it?

bomakehappy2431 karma


KTurkey1720 karma

Who is your girlfriend?

bomakehappy1692 karma


Maverick13311098 karma

Nunya who's that?

bomakehappy3217 karma


kennethfriedman718 karma

For those of us who have watched Make Happy a few hundred times already, and have seen all your other stuff, can you toss up the names of a some comedians that you think are great that we don't know about?

bomakehappy1602 karma

Sam Simmons, Hans Teeuwen, Stewart Lee, Tim Minchin, Bill Bailey, Kate Berlant, Jerrod Carmichael.

Vessi620 karma

How does it feel knowing that most people can see up your nostrils?

bomakehappy1649 karma

Horrifying. I have a deviated septum and it is on full display and I would like to drink bleach please.

cruffenach609 karma

What are some of your favorite creators/creative products from this year? Comedy, Movies, Music, Books, Articles, Websites whatever.

bomakehappy1618 karma

Really, really love the new Radiohead album. This movie The Lobster. A great book by Douglas Rushkoff called Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus (Douglas Rushkoff is so brilliant I feel like reddit would love him and yet I never see his stuff posted here). Thought Louis' Horace and Pete was a pretty special thing. What about you?

cruffenach440 karma

Make Happy has been my recommendation of choice for the last several weeks. Beyond that I really liked Ali Wong's Netflix special, David Bazan's new Album Blanco, The majority of the stuff coming out of Slate and The Ringer. Oh and WNYC's "On the Media" is on a tear right now. Bob Garfield and Brooke Gladstone are killing it.

bomakehappy679 karma

Sweet. I'll check out that David Bazan album. Never heard of him but the previews sounded killer.

sdehod560 karma

Bo, do you remember being kicked off stage at the Hamilton-Wenham Community Center during your first performance? My band opened for you that night. So, that was pretty great.

bomakehappy680 karma

hahaha! yes! The woman in the blue dress did it!

NetherCreeper1534 karma

What's the most ridiculously over-offended response you've ever had to a joke/song?

bomakehappy1834 karma

I don't know, you know I feel like people, for the most part, have a good sense of humor. Comedians bitch a lot about everyone being so PC and not being able to take a joke but it's like we get up on stage and talk for an hour non-stop. Once in a while people say some shit back. It's all good with me. Except when asians do it.

ileiltud1271 karma


bomakehappy2589 karma

300 you say?

briannamator517 karma

Bo, when is the worst time you have had to kick someone out of a show? I was at the Baltimore show in November when you had to have that guy removed.

Thanks for being super entertaining and stuff.

bomakehappy1165 karma

There was a drunk guy that wondered on stage in atlanta and sat at my keyboard. That was strange. I think I told him to kill himself or something, not my finest hour. And appreciate the kind words dude!

DotaDogma598 karma

Video if anyone's curious. Not his finest moment, but still the heckler's fault. I remember when this was posted people were shitting on Bo, making it clear they've never been to a comedy show.

bomakehappy705 karma

Also like, I wasn't totally "safe." I was most concerned with just getting the guy out of there, more than doing some sort of subtle take down of him.

becrobertson493 karma

is the kanye rant as deep as i perceive it to be?

bomakehappy1318 karma


beccaishiding459 karma

What is the worst thing that an audience member has done during a show?

bomakehappy2222 karma

Shot everybody. At my show? I don't know, texted?

keycalivaz451 karma

I have looked up to you for years and I love performing and everything that comes with it. What is some advice you can give for young performers to get themselves out there?

bomakehappy2028 karma

You know I sort of fell into an audience at a young age because I went #VIRAL so any advice I’d give on starting out building a career would be silly as I got very lucky very early. But I do think there’s a lot working against young people who are wanting to make things right now, and they are things I’ve struggled with and continue to struggle with and I don’t feel are talked about enough. Everyone talks about how great these new internet distribution models are—and they are, they’re more democratic and from the bottom and up and they allow people to be in control of how they share their work with others—but I also think they create really toxic impulses. Brand-building, self-promotion. These are fine things to do once you’ve actually worked hard enough to get good enough where you can make something worthy of being shared. But it should never be a starting point. The first step when starting out should always be to get as good as you possibly can at the thing you’re doing. Learn a ton, try different things, challenge yourself, fuck up, learn more. And I’m not saying this to say “fuck success, do the work”—I really do believe that good work is the best promotion—that if you want to have your thing seen by a lot of people, the best chance you have is to make it as good as possible. In getting an audience early, I realized how incredibly fluky and volatile people’s attention was. And that trying to control it directly was impossible. The only thing I ever have had control of was the actual work. And for me, the corny truth at the center of it is that you should try to follow your impulse to GIVE something to people, not the impulse to get something from them. I try to tell myself to just shut the fuck up and work hard on something that I think is good and important and make it as good as I can and when I’m done with it, share it. Self-promotion should be the last step, not the first. But also I got super lucky and didn’t have to promote myself so I’m a bit of a privileged hypocrite – but like that self-branding shit is pretty gross and I just think like makes you feel icky and unsatisfied and I don’t think leads to happiness even when it works. But making things is fun. So make stuff! Hope that made any sense.

morphinemyvaccine448 karma

Are you still wrestling with the possibility of pursuing a degree, or is that in the past now?

bomakehappy818 karma

I'd love to take some classes. I wouldn't know what to do with a degree but I have plenty of things I'd like to learn more about.

emiliacast417 karma

Are you going to be writing another book?

bomakehappy1290 karma

I'd love to, yeah! I'm paranoid about being another piece of shit pseudo-celebrity killing the book industry and taking up the shelf space of writers who've worked their entire lives to write books. Sorry passionate, hard-working people!

bomakehappy787 karma

what the fuck? oh god. that's definitely not happening.

Stinkfo0t331 karma

So my one claim to fame is when I fixed your iPhone when you were in Richmond, VA. Thank you. Although I ment to ask what were you doing even doing there?

bomakehappy652 karma

ha! I remember you, thank you. I was in town for a college show. And thanks for telling me where the 7-eleven was.

Dante__321 karma

What's your stance on straight marriage?

bomakehappy1235 karma

It's gay.

Rzy304 karma

Would you ever collaborate with Tim Minchin? If so, any ideas?

bomakehappy671 karma

I'm friends with Tim and we've talked about it. If there's something that works for both of us we'd love to. He's scary good.

RandomDudeOnReddit246 karma

Bo do you eat ass?

bomakehappy903 karma

You bet your sweet ass I do.

Toshiro46231 karma

I love you, no homo.

On another note, would you let me suck your dick?

bomakehappy666 karma

But wait, you said, wait, hold on, wait.

raskuhl225 karma

Are STAX cans any easier to fit your hands into?

bomakehappy1430 karma

I'm too intimidated by the very cool, hip spelling of stax to even approach them.

Vaskebrett93201 karma

Did your dad like your new special?

bomakehappy742 karma

Too much. He needs to chill.

spjack_96197 karma

You were one of the first comedians I really began to follow, and I remember distinctly assuming that every comedian was both funny, and poignant; that every comedian would have an "Art is Dead", or "Are You Happy". Was it always your intention to create comedy that had an ulterior motive, so to speak, or was it just part of the process that organically led to content like that?

bomakehappy326 karma

I think a lot of comedians have vulnerable or slightly more serious moments. I just think because my stuff is musical and theatrical it tends to announce it's seriousness a little more obviously when it goes there. But I don't know how it really started. I tried it out a little at first and the audience seemed to dig it so I just kept pursuing it.

bomakehappy25 karma

I think a lot of comedians have vulnerable or slightly more serious moments. I just think because my stuff is musical and theatrical it tends to announce it's seriousness a little more obviously when it goes there. But I don't know how it really started. I tried it out a little at first and the audience seemed to dig it so I just kept pursuing it.

freespiritgirl191 karma

I really enjoyed the NPR segment on your mother and her important work. Was there ever a time you considered going into medicine?

bomakehappy355 karma

No, I don't have the strength for that stuff. But I'm so glad you liked that segment, my mother is a very special person!

TheOsttle179 karma

Also Jesus is this your 5th account? did you really forget the password to the last one again?

bomakehappy427 karma

Yes, I'm sorry.

jocelynratzer120 karma

Hi Bo! Why do you say "sorry" so many times in Make Happy? It's an alarming amount haha. Is it a subconscious thing? Also what's your favorite Kanye song?

bomakehappy367 karma

hahaha I think 'sorry' is probably a good subtitle for the show. And I'm all about waves right now.

jmgreen33113 karma

why did you take a dark approach at the end of Make Happy?

bomakehappy534 karma

I weirdly thought I was making a happy ending. I wasn't trying to be dark or heavy, I was just trying to speak honestly about what I was feeling. And it's not that everything up until that point was a lie and now I'm showing you the darkness of my soul - I just wanted to fill the thing out emotionally. Cause everyone I think feels happy and sad and bored and anxious and I wanted to try to make the show feel that way.

pinchfizz102 karma

Any chance of seeing more of Zach Stone in the future?

bomakehappy286 karma

Maybe! Who knows. I always thought he'd be a fun person to check in on 10 years later and see what he's like.

Jade_Miori99 karma

Bo, what's a good song you'd recommend? I need something new to listen to.

bomakehappy309 karma

hjonsey96 karma

Hi Bo! Can you tell us what is the hardest thing about being you? I'm sure you have so many pressures to just perform, but what else in your real life do you struggle with? (Btw, I have been watching you since the you tube days, you have definitely made a great difference for me on my bad days. Always know you have been a positive influence on a lot of people I'm sure)

bomakehappy485 karma

Oh boy! Very cool, low key questions. I think it's probably similar to what other people struggle with -- trying to be present and kind and not angry at everything all the time and be a little more patient? I don't know, I think the internet is killing us. I pee sitting down now so I can look at my phone. Please send help.

maaxomus78 karma

Can you give us your take on the meaning of Make Happy's ending?

bomakehappy458 karma


x3v76 karma

How does your girlfriend handle your fame? It must be a little unnerving to know that probably hundreds of thousands, if not millions of other girls want you.

Also, has your fame reached the point where people are constantly bugging you in public? As much as I would love to shake the hands of some celebrities if I saw them, I know I would feel bad because they have to deal with that constantly.

bomakehappy234 karma

It's not really a problem. This isn't being fake humble: I'm really not that famous at all. I think I'm known to a small core of people, which is cool, but my day-to-day life isn't really affected. A few people might come up to me once in a while, but it's not like I can't be in public.

NoItsReallyMe163 karma

Will you ever go back and do Pete Holmes podcast again?

bomakehappy116 karma

I hope to! Pete's shooting his HBO show now but hopefully when he's done. Pete's the greatest.

mentalgellar62 karma

Bo, will you be performing the show in England at any time? Or doing shows of any kind or over here?

bomakehappy142 karma

Nothing in the near future. Scheduling stuff didn't work out so I wasn't able to perform Make Happy over there which really bummed me out. But I don't mind that people get to see the special completely fresh. That's a plus.

Bhughez62 karma

Did you give Bruce the dog cookie I gave you in Birmingham?

bomakehappy273 karma

yes, he's dead now bitch.

risshsu55 karma

what is your all time favorite heckler story, bo?

bomakehappy373 karma

one show, no one heckled.

caseem1626 karma

I'm terrified to follow my passion. Everyone keeps telling me that it won't make me enough money or that it's an industry that's impossible to get into, but cinematography and creative directing are my two favorite things to do. Any advice on how to get out there and be confident in decision making and following your heart? Also side question, what's your favorite band? Hope you're doing well. Thank you for Make Happy 💜

bomakehappy78 karma

I'd say try as hard as you can to ground your own happiness in the work you do. Making things and challenging yourself and getting better is a very rewarding thing, and that's something that you can do regardless of the amount of success you achieve -- especially in your field of interest, cameras are getting really cheap and really efficient, we shot the opening and closing of my special on those new little sony 4ks that look amazing. So I don't really have a solution for success and I can't say that the industry isn't impossible to get into, but I do think the work, the actual rewarding part of it, is available to you at any time. So I'd say try to allocate as much of your mental space to that. Good luck with it! And radiohead for a band!

austindm422 karma

As you stated in your special, you like artists like Kendrick Lamar. Which is your favorite song of his?

bomakehappy99 karma

Probably "Thong Song."