MONTREAL – Bo Burnham seems to carry on in the grand tradition of great vaudevillian performers from days of yore: he’s a multi-talented, multi-faceted, true performer, who appears utterly committed to delivering a full-bodied show rather than a mere act. And that was full on display at his solo show at Just For Laughs on Friday night. Every move the young performer makes is simple, yet complex – there isn’t a flourish of his gangly limbs or lighting cue wasted.
At any point during his non-stop onstage escapades, anyone could have easily mistaken the show for an entire chorus line of musical comedians. Inter-splicing impeccably timed sound effects with full length, highly satirical songs about, amongst other things, fucking sluts (two women in front of me high-fived when he hollered his desire for said activity), the nexis of Burnham’s genius lies in his ability to remain one step ahead of the audience in terms of expectations. If you think there’s a wacky sound effect coming, he’ll toss glitter into the air instead. Waiting for another musical number written from the perspective of God? Burnham will opine about practicing safe sex by wearing a condom… while his lady fucks him with a strap on.
Truly, his work defies cogent description, and Burnham might well be on his way to picking up the bizarre comic crown where Andy Kaufman last dropped it off back in 1982. Which, incidentally, was eight years before Burnham was even born. In a way, this almost makes his talent even more fantastic to behold – far less capable comedians could spend decades trying to perfect an act that Bo must have mastered in just a few attempts. His mind is a swirling world of mass chaos: one that I was overjoyed to spend even just an hour in.
“We love you!” an audience member screamed at Burnham during his encore. “You love the idea of me; you don’t know me!” Burnham replied. Maybe not, but I for one would like to keep getting to know him. I’m sure the love will follow – for the most part, it already has.