Q

Bo Burnham on creating comedy from a life of growing up online and his new film Eighth Grade

Bo Burnham was one of the first self-made YouTube stars, which launched him into an arena-filling stand-up comedy career. But he left it all behind a few years ago to focus on writing and directing his first feature film, 8th Grade.
Guest host Ali Hassan and comedian Bo Burnham in the q studio in Toronto, Ont. (Vivian Rashotte/CBC)
Listen16:17

Bo Burnham was famous by the time he was in high school. He was one of the first self-made YouTube stars with satirical songs racking up millions of views, which launched him into an arena-filling stand-up comedy career. But he left it all behind a few years ago to focus on writing and directing his first feature film, Eighth Grade.


q guest host Ali Hassan talks to Bo Burnham about changing directions, and creating a film that's getting rave reviews for its sensitive and sharply-observed portrait of early adolescence. "I think the way we remember that age isn't the same as it was to be that age," says Burnham. "The hope is just to reflect the subjective experience of this kid, not to view it through the lens of adults looking back. ... You know that a regular day to a kid feels like life and death. So can we take a regular day and make it feel that intense, make it feel that visceral?"

As for the decision to leave stand-up comedy to pursue a career in filmmaking, Burnham says, "I started when I was 16. Now I'm 27, so I'm at a certain point where I had to take inventory of things, like I've been doing stand up for 10 years, it's something I started when I was 16. Is this really what I'd want to do if I started fresh right now?" 

While now might not feel like the right time for Burnham to do stand-up comedy, he says that won't be the case forever. "I would love to get up there and do it again. I would love to, if the idea's right," he says.
 

— Produced by Chris Trowbridge

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.