Accolades and Awards for Inside: The Complete List
Updated: Nov 20
Now that 2022 is in the rearview mirror, I wanted to compile all of the awards and critical responses for Bo's masterpiece.
First, the MAJOR awards he's won—
Emmy Awards 2021: Bo has won THREE Creative Emmys (There are no acceptance speeches because he only showed up for the main ceremony where Inside lost to Hamilton)
Outstanding Writing for a Variety Special
Outstanding Directing for a Variety Special
Outstanding Music Direction
Lorene posted a still from one of Bo's Vines (Large Number 3) on her Instagram, and Bo's dad posted about the wins as well (so supportive!).
Grammy Awards 2022: Bo won ONE Grammy Award for Best Song Written for Visual Media
And, of course, we have Bo's delightful reaction in Jerrod's apartment to LeVar Burton proclaiming "Bo's not here, y'all" — "I'm not here, y'all!"
Peabody Award 2021
Those Production Credits are a little "The Dump," you know?
Next, the lesser-known awards he's won:
Hollywood Critics Association 2021: Virtuoso Award (first recipient ever!)
This one is the ceremony with the best Bo montage (which came in at number 3 on my best of Inside list last May) and his infamous acceptance speech. If you haven't watched it before, here's a spoiler alert—
LOTS of camera kissing haha.
UPDATE: I was lucky enough to interview the creator of the stunning montage, Zachary Marsh—you can read about his process here.
American Cinema Editors (Eddies) 2022: Best Editing of a Variety Talk/Sketch Show or Special
Rose d'Or 2021: Comedy Award
Critics Choice Awards 2022: Best Comedy Special
Next, there are the end-of-year lists that praised Bo and his masterpiece.
Before he turned thirty, Burnham had already lived multiple show-business lives: teen YouTube sensation, singing standup comedian, director of the coming-of-age film “Eighth Grade.” “Inside,” which came out on Netflix in May, could be called a pandemic comedy special, but even that novel description doesn’t do it justice: it’s a video diary, a cabaret show, and an existential crisis all rolled into one. Alone in his man cave, Burnham taped himself over months of quarantine—looking, like many of us, increasingly haggard and despairing—even counting down the seconds to his thirtieth birthday on camera. As his mind seemed to unravel (or was it all an act?), the show became his lifeline and his hall of mirrors, full of visual and aural jolts. And, while he thrashed around in his own head, Burnham dissected the contradictions of modern life in catchy, penetrating parody songs: just try to excise his Kurt Weill-ish ditty “Welcome to the Internet” from your brain once you’ve heard it. Can he please write a musical?
Bo Burnham's comedy special might be the definitive piece of pandemic viewing, despite arriving admittedly late in the game, as its release coincided with soaring vaccination rates across the continent. Still, it offered intense catharsis, serving up an unpolished portrait of the ways mental illness manifests in isolation. Even considering the piece was filmed inside a pool house — not exactly relatable lockdown circumstances for most — Burham's special still feels honest; while delivering biting comedy and deadpan devastation in equal measure, he ponders the significance of aging, the insidiousness of the internet and the dystopia that is late-stage capitalism. With all its pervasiveness, genre-bending and focused production, it's not hard to imagine this work folded alongside the past two years' unprecedented events in history books to come.
New York Times: Great Performers of 2021 (yes, the article that accompanied Bo's sexy Jesus pics lol)
That infinite regression — the abyss of self-consciousness that opens up whenever we open our mouths or turn on our cameras — is the explicit subject of “Inside.” Like Burnham’s previous stand-up specials, and like everyone else’s, it is addressed directly to an audience. The difference is that the audience is absent, and that Burnham’s performance is contained by a literal fourth wall. Alone in a room during lockdown, with a lighting rig, a keyboard and some other equipment but no other cast or crew, he plays with time — Does this last for 90 minutes? A year? Your whole life? — and with the conventions of online self-presentation. He undermines his privileged, white-male assumptions with self-awareness, and then undermines the assumption that self-awareness can accomplish anything. He mocks selfie and Instagram culture with the language of their own self-mockery. He fakes emotion so knowingly that when what looks like real emotion breaks out — when he weeps or raves or curls up in a ball — we have to be suspicious, even if we’re moved. He is either laying open his innermost self (one meaning of the title) or else showing off his specialized knowledge of how the manipulation of meaning works (another possible meaning of the title). Or both, because the point is that there isn’t a difference.
Unless you really pay attention. Movies are often said to resemble dreams in the way they assemble fragmentary images and fugitive meanings into illusions of continuity. The internet, by contrast, replicates — and also, of course, consumes — waking consciousness, fragmenting experience into shards of distraction, dissociation and randomness. That’s the experience Burnham tries to capture in “Inside,” but you understand what he’s doing only if you keep watching, without checking your texts or your Twitter feed or using the screen-in-screen feature to keep track of the playoff game.
That kind of exclusive engagement is something Burnham pointedly (and poignantly) begs for, even as he doubts it exists. His neediness turns a subtext of performance into text. Look at me! See me! Understand me! But like every other performer, he’s also saying the opposite: I’m not who you think I am. I’m not really here.
Like it or not, in 20 years, high school history teachers are probably going to be showing their students Bo Burnham’s Netflix special Inside to illuminate the crisis of the straight white American male as he hurtled towards irrelevancy. Written and filmed entirely by the songwriter/comedian alone in a one-room guest house, it is a portrait of a man fully in crisis, unsure of whether to blow his brains out or keep telling jokes. Two things keep Burnham’s self-lacerating humor on the right side of cringe throughout the special: the production, which delivers breathtaking results using the most basic, lo-fi, DIY techniques (who knew you could get so much mileage out of props and lights seemingly purchased from Party City?), and the music. Running the gamut from Speak & Spell-era Depeche Mode to faux-Broadway to Phoebe Bridgers-approved indie folk, these songs are bleak, hilarious, and catchy as hell. Watching Inside will probably make you feel like shit, but at least you’ll be laughing and singing along.
Just because Bo Burnham’s Inside is the most blindingly obvious inclusion on this list does not make it deserve its spot any less. Burnham’s special consumed the comedy conversation all year, thanks to its multitudinous offerings (and also to the long tail of its media cycle, which has extended beyond its Netflix premiere and into an album release and a short theater run). It is comedy that points at the pandemic Zeitgeist while also being full of incisive commentary about internet culture that long predates it. It’s catchy, full of earworm songs with melodies and productions that stand as their own parodies but also undermine and play against Burnham’s lyrics. And it has an unusually rich visual component, because Burnham’s directing sensibility adds yet another layer of meaning and subversion to the interplay between his lyrics and his melodies. There are still years in front of us where we’ll be finding new art that is about the experience of 2020, but in the canon of 21st-century pandemic art, Inside is already one of the classics.
We were prepared to completely ignore the garbage pile of, sure, well-intentioned content that was made during the harrowing days of the pandemic. You know the ones. You probably shuddered at the suggestion of them. Shot over Zoom. Joked about Zoom. Just sort of verbatim recounting how unmooring and unpleasant all of that time was in a way that was, sure, inventive, but wholly unwanted. So what a jolt Bo Burnham: Inside was. It is unequivocally the greatest piece of pandemic entertainment, something that should be kept as a historical record.
In the special, the comedian and creative force (it would take too long to list all his job titles) vacillates between wise and unhinged as he leans on the forms that sparked his career—vlogging, musical parodies, wry stand-up—and hurls them through the looking glass to create something as shell-shocked and evolved as we all feel right now. Much of it is set to song… songs so good that we still wonder how they weren’t nominated for more Grammy Awards. It’s a chronicle of a person trying to dig his way out of a horrible time through creation, and an exposé on the limits of that, no matter how brilliant. But that’s the thing… it is so legitimately brilliant.
IGN: Best Director of the Year
The makings of Bo Burnham: Inside are humble - a comedian in his guest house single-handedly putting together a "comedy" special - but a lot came together to make it one of the most unforgettable pieces of quarantine viewing. It wasn't only Burnham's intense and often uncomfortable vulnerability that made Inside such a gripping watch, but his skill as a director. With just one small, generally unexciting setting, he managed to make Inside feel dynamic through clever framing and smart editing. No matter how grueling it was to see Burnham's mental health plummet, Inside also never failed to be thoroughly watchable from start to finish.
The Ringer: Best Performance of 2021
Even before his quarantine opus, Bo Burnham was already a multihyphenate. For Inside, the comedian/composer/musician just added a few extra titles, from director to editor to prop stylist. At the heart of his latest special, though, is Burnham’s core skill set: performance, slowly building the character of “Bo Burnham” through a mix of songs, quasi-stand-up, and semi-scripted interludes. Most early-pandemic efforts wore their scrappiness on their sleeves, embracing an ad-hoc attempt to capture a moment. Inside has the best of both worlds. It’s as raw and unusual as anything shot on Zoom in March 2020, but with the added polish of craft, storytelling, and a thin veneer of fiction.
The Bo Burnham of Inside—unraveling, unshaven, trapped—is not a literal representation of Bo Burnham the person, who presumably left the room every so often to grab some takeout or have a socially distanced hang. But the character often feels like a kind of pandemic-era id, giving voice to our darkest thoughts (“All Eyes on Me”) and everyday anxieties (“Shit”). Demonstrations of range are scattered throughout, from a turn as a nihilist sock puppet to a sketch where Burnham casts himself as a consultant for faux-woke corporations. But for the most part, Burnham turns himself into a simplified avatar of our confusion and angst, even as he’s clearly working through anxieties specific to both him as an entertainer and his generation of internet-addled millennials. The concept of Inside pegs it to a specific time and place, but it’s Burnham’s oscillating emotions that make it an enduring artifact.
The Laugh Button: Best Comedy Special of the Year
What more can be said about Bo Burnham’s special that hasn’t already been said in 500 think pieces that have come out since its May 31st release?
Comedians spent the good portion of a year trying to figure out how to keep doing comedy throughout the pandemic. Then just as things were starting to open up again, Bo Burnham unleashes the ultimate pandemic comedy special upon us that manages to capture what we all went through and our mental states without ever saying the world “COVID.” Through his unique prism we get an accurate reflection of the internal struggle a lot of us went through in 2020, all the while never losing sight of the fact that it’s a comedy special. It’s particularly more impressive a feat knowing that Burnham pretty much handled the entire production of the special himself. The pacing may not be your ordinary special, but then again, 2020 wasn’t an ordinary year.
Consequence: Comedian of the Year
Hindsight is (clears throat) 20/20, but regardless, Burnham committed deeply to the idea of a new standup special and a re-entry into the form that elevated his career beyond viral sensation. But upon its release in late May of 2021, it was clear that this special had become something entirely different to Burham; this was new territory, a fractured, counterintuitive attempt at returning to comedy in the midst of deep anguish on both a personal and global level.
These are some of the most daring, compelling songs he’s ever written, and the resulting attention put back on Burnham in retrospect feels rightfully deserved: Though the spotlight is blinding and that vulnerability comes with a cost, the level of detail and emotion displayed on Inside is so comprehensive that you can’t help but root for him.
And Netflix even released an Instagram ad for Inside about Bo's many accomplishments!
Finally, here are some accolades from other celebrities/comedians. For a more thorough list, please check out this comprehensive Reddit thread:
Steve Martin: Bo Burnham’s Netflix special ("Bo Burnham: Inside") is staggering. I didn’t know what to expect and I was riveted for the entire hour and a half. It’s like those comedy breakthrough times, like with Sacha Baron Cohen and now Bo Burnham.
Sara Bareilles (kind of ironic since he mocks her song "Brave" in Kill Yourself haha)
Chris Evans (he also retweeted Bo's Outtakes tweet on the first anniversary)
Kelly Carlin (George's daughter)
Rory Scovel (he played grocery store manager Pat on Zach Stone with Bo)
Speaking of affirming, Scovel gives a shout out someone he’s admired from the sidelines for years: Bo Burnham. Almost a decade after working with the Grammy-winning musical comic on his one-season MTV series Zach Stone Is Gonna Be Famous, Scovel reflects on getting to see someone he describes as a “genius” grow into his own. “Watching him run that show when we were shooting forever ago what, ten plus years ago, when he was even more of a kid than he is now was mind-blowing. This dude is a savant. He knows exactly what to do, and I barely even know how this set operates or what the language is, and he just somehow already completely knows and understands it.
I think Inside is one of the most genius things I’ve watched in the longest time, from top to bottom, I just loved every element about it. And it just know it is so vulnerable and real, and him is the best. I just love it. The genius that is coming out of that, I witnessed that forever go, but now to see him have full control of it and know what he can really do is really cool. It’s really cool to see, and I don’t know if he would take this as a compliment or an insult, but to see this awakening of his own. That he sees he can do this, make this version of the thing that I know how to make it.
Especially now, because [comedy specials are] so oversaturated in the market right now. There’s a new special every week where this person walks out on a stage and says these things. I’ve always found it to be more fun to be at that event to feel the power of it and the fun of it. Not that we always can be at those events. But for [Burnham] to make his the version that it is, that version is the better version. You would never want to be at that, and you couldn’t – it’s impossible. I just love that aspect of it.
And another about his Emmy wins!
me [handshake] bo burnham
burnt out youtuber to anxiety ridden entertainer pipeline
Andrew Garfield (who got to meet Bo at the DGAs!)
Just a profound work of staggering genius of a- the artist of his generation. And he- he kind of- he goes to the innermost regions, like, it's internal space travel is what he's doing. And it's generous. He's giving it to us, he's giving us his soul. It reminds us of who we are and it makes us feel less alone. Ironically enough, because it's all about what it is to be isolated and to be isolated in a world of massive interconnectedness. I'm so thankful that Bo Burnham exists and that he's making the art that he's making, and that it's so uncompromising and so vulnerable and so damn funny.
And he literally said he most wanted to meet Bo...dreams do come true!
I would love to hang out with Bo Burnham. I think he's just so brilliant. I would just like to pick his brain. He'd probably get very annoyed with me.
As you can see, Inside has made a tremendous impact in popular culture, and Bo is now halfway to an EGOT. Here's hoping for a musical to be next!