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  • Writer's pictureStand-Up Comedy Historian

An Interview with insidewaltz, an Incredible Bo Fanfiction Writer

Updated: Aug 3, 2023

*****CW: NSFW discussions of erotic fiction about Bo, reader discretion advised

Have you ever read fanfiction about Bo Burnham?

There are hundreds of stories on Tumblr and Archive of Our Own or ao3 that feature him in suggestive situations (some better, some worse), but very few focus on Bo having sex with his clones during the making of Inside.

Enter one of the newest and most popular fanfic writers, insidewaltz. Her two clone-fucking stories—Mirror and the gospel of progress—are incredibly well-written and thought-provoking, really leaning into deep questions of the self and Bo's existential dread manifesting as having to deal with different versions of himself throughout time.

After reading both stories multiple times, I needed to know more about how the writer conceived the idea of Bo clones and what she's planning to write next.

Luckily, insidewaltz (whose real name is Bea) responded positively to my many questions about Bo fanfic!

Here is my interview with Bea, which has been edited and condensed for clarity purposes.

Stand-Up Comedy Historian: Hi, Bea! Thanks for taking the time to chat with me about your fanfic writing.

Bea: No problem!

SUCH: Wonderful!

First—can you please provide some details about yourself?

Bea: I’m Bea, and I’m in my late 20s. I’ve lived in a lot of places, but right now I live in west Texas.

I have a degree in Creative Writing, which I’m clearly putting to good use…

SUCH: I hear you on that! I have a Master's in English and work in marketing haha.

I would say, however, that you're honing your skills through your fanfic. It's really well-written!

So how did you get started with your writing, and when did you begin penning romantic stories and fanfiction specifically?

Bea: I’ve really been writing ever since I was a little kid—I’ve always loved it.

I hated romance for a long time though! I was one of those weird little girls who liked picking up worms and thought romance was gross.

I wrote my first fanfiction when I was around fourteen (on LiveJournal! lol), though I wouldn’t admit to it for a long time. It was for Criminal Minds haha.

Now I have a writing degree, and I use it to write free clone-fucking stories on the Internet! lmao

SUCH: Ah, LiveJournal. I remember it well (but I was luckily too old to post on it...I did create an embarrassing Duncan Sheik fansite when I was in high school though).

So do you have any particular authors who inspire you?

Bea: So many! A few writers I really admire are Louise Erdrich, Donna Tartt, Bonnie Jo Campbell, and Sherman Alexie.

Louise Erdrich

Donna Tartt

Bonnie Jo Campbell

Sherman Alexie

I really admire writers who tell stories that are not only emotionally rich, but also subtle and restrained.

That element can actually be very difficult to implement in fanfiction, because there’s a sort of earnestness—and also often a wish fulfillment element—that makes it so easy and tempting to pour all of the feelings you imagine for the characters onto the page.

But I try to incorporate some of that style into most of my writing, as much as I can!

SUCH: I would say you've been successful!

So when did you become a fan of Bo? Have you known about him for a long time, or did you discover him through Inside?

Bea: I have been more or less following Bo’s career from the beginning! Well, kind of.

I vividly remember sitting in my friend’s basement computer room in like seventh grade watching his YouTube videos, but I was far too cool and aloof to like them then.

I rediscovered him in my freshman year of college, shortly after what. came out, and I fell in love instantly haha. Every new thing he puts out both heals and destroys me emotionally more than the last :)

SUCH: Yes, that is the perfect description of Bo's works—healing and destroying your soul!

Wow, so you've been a fan since 2013. That's awesome! I only started obsessing over him in 2019.

Back to your fanfic. What is your general process of writing your stories from concept to the final product? And how long do they typically take to complete?

Bea: I’m a pretty slow writer! I usually start with a specific scene or two in mind, and write those, and then sort of let the story build itself out from there.

I plan out the story thematically, and some of the major plot points, but I’m not a very plot-driven writer, to be honest. I really enjoy writing a series of emotionally charged scenes, often out of order, and stringing them together haha. I hate writing transitions, so I simply don’t.

SUCH: Not a fan of segues, huh?

YouTube captions does it again...

A lot of casual fans and onlookers consider real-person fanfiction, or RPF, to be creepy and parasocial. How do you refute those arguments? Or do you agree but not care about that perceived violation of privacy?

Bea: My (currently) two Bo stories are the only RPF I’ve ever written, and I admit I thought it was pretty weird for a while before that.

The word “parasocial” gets thrown around a lot, but I think it depends on where the writer is coming from. For me (and I think for most people, at least in this fandom), I am under no impression that I am writing a story about the real, living human named Bo Burnham, but just about my own perceived character of him—not who I really think he is, because how the hell should I know? But rather a character inspired by the characters of himself he presents in his work.

SUCH: Absolutely true! None of us truly knows Bo (cue We Think We Know You), so it makes sense that you focus on his persona instead.

Do you think fanfiction emboldens people to act crazier about their favorite celebrities, or do you see it as a useful outlet of creative expression?

Bea: I think there are undoubtedly people—though, I think, mostly young people, who will in fact grow out of it—who do take fanfiction to a weird, parasocial place.

But for the vast majority, I think it’s just a form of expression, and one that I think has some unique benefits.

Since you can’t make money off of fic, I think it can really allow people to write with less consciousness of how their writing will be received, its “marketability,” etc. (although I think that, in some ways, shifts in social media culture—the “content” mindset—have started encroaching on this).

SUCH: That's such a great point about fanfiction! I am hopeful that younger fans start to realize how toxic their obsession with celebrity perfection is in general...the stuff with Bo and Phoebe Bridgers for example. And I also really cannot fathom people thinking it's cool to post insults or death threats on social media. How ridiculous!

So how many stories have you written in your time as a fanfic writer?

Bea: Welllll in my whole fanfiction career, probably about 20 or so (like I said, I’m a slow writer haha). Most of those have been lost to the annals of history (LiveJournal and Dreamwidth).

I have a few current stories up on my main ao3 profile and just the two Bo fics (though there are more to come).

SUCH: Exciting, and I can't wait to read more!

So why do you use Bo as the love interest/main character in your stories? Is there something about his personality that lends itself to this type of writing?

Bea: The quintessential question—what is it about this quirked-up white boy that makes him so fascinating…

I think a big part of it is the way he intentionally blurs the line between what is “real” or not in his material. He hints at so much, but leaves so much to the imagination at the same time.

He sort of seems to present like, an emotionally exaggerated version of himself on stage, which is very easy to characterize, and leaves a lot to be explored.

That doesn’t explain why we’re all so clearly trying to bone him, but his vibes are hot—I can’t possibly explain that.

SUCH: I think that's a reasonable explanation...he is enigmatic in many ways, so it's easier to put your values/personality traits on him compared to other artists.

And agreed on the hot vibes. He's irresistible for some reason...especially with the longer hair!

Oh, and he definitely plays up the sex appeal too (JEANS, anyone?).

So are you for or against using "Y/N" in your fanfic? Why or why not?

I don't like it myself and it takes me out of the story...I don't need Bo saying my name to self-insert!

Bea: Personally, it’s not my thing! I haven’t written any reader-insert fic yet, though I’m not ruling it out by any means.

I don’t actually want to see myself in the story. Or, I have a difficult time seeing myself in the story.

Bringing myself into the story brings all of my own issues and insecurities and everything into what is supposed to be a fun fantasy haha. I think generally the use of y/n can kind of take you out of the story a bit.

I like when the reader is left unnamed, or maybe given a story-relevant nickname.

SUCH: Exactly! Giving the female figure a real name just helps me dive right into the fantasy, whereas y/n takes me out of it every time haha.

And it seems like we aren't alone in our stance based on this Reddit thread!

How do you decide on your subject matter? Smutty, plot-driven, hedonistic?

Bea: I start with an idea I think is either really hot or really emotionally juicy, and everything goes from there!

SUCH: Nice! Sounds like a useful approach.

So how do you choose the era of AU Bo [Ed. Note: AU is short for "Alternate/Alternative Universe" and means the work isn't set in our reality] in your stories? Do you have a preference?

Bea: I go “what if all these era guys got together and fucked :)” Lol. But for real, idk, I think Inside era calls to me a lot, because at this time in my life I relate to it the most?

SUCH: Agreed! Bo is so vulnerable and sensitive in his masterpiece that it's no surprise a ton of fanfic has come out about it.

So your first story, Mirror, has made quite a splash in the fandom and even inspired new fanfic!

What made you want to write about Bo and his clones from throughout the years? I have to say that it's certainly one of the deepest and most philosophical stories about Bo banging his clone that I've ever read lol.

Bea: First of all I want to say I love Incoming so much! The author [Ed. Note: CoralFlowerNSFW (Mr_CoralFlower)] has truly become my fellow clone-fucking enthusiast and treasured friend in this fandom. And I think the exploration of the past/present Bo dynamic is such a delicious and much more zoomed-in version than what I did, and idk I love it endlessly.

I wrote about clone fucking for two main reasons, and one is that I wanted to write about Bo fucking someone because. Well yeah, because.

But given my personally complicated feelings about writing reader insert, who is there for him to fuck? And then I just did the stupid easy math of like. Guy I think is hot + the same guy, who I think is hot = kaching.

[Ed. Note: The same element of Bo interacting with himself in a sexual manner is explored in Pseudonympls's excellent Left Brain, Right Brain fanfic!]

Secondly, I think that clones have so much potential symbolically and allegorically speaking, and a lot of them correspond with themes Bo explores in his work, like dissociation, self-acceptance (or lack thereof), and having conflicting sides of yourself.

He also has really distinct eras and personas in his work, which I think make the clone narrative all the more compelling.

SUCH: Absolutely! Bo does seem a bit fixated on clones as well, from his Egghead poem "The Future" to his Good One interview [Ed. Note: the March 1 interview in this month-long best of list] when he says he has a clone bit he wants to try out as part of his show (but it never worked since the bit didn't make sense). The tweet also seems to be Bo obsessing over the clone switch bit.

Seems like you two are kindred spirits!

So you've continued your exploration of clones in your newest clone-fucking story, the gospel of progress.

This features time loops and repeating your day until you know exactly how to change it. The genre has actually been pretty popular throughout the years, starting with the Granddaddy of them all: Groundhog Day.

Since 1993 when it premiered, the Bill Murray film has spawned many time loop iterations, with the most recent takes being Palm Springs on Hulu, Russian Doll on Netflix, and the movies Edge of Tomorrow and Happy Death Day to name a few.

Did any of those particular works influence your writing? How did you plan out such a complex and involved story with all of those gruesome deaths? Also, when did you reach the conclusion that what Bo needs is self-love in the truest sense?

Bea: I love time loop stories, and I've watched or rewatched a lot of the movies you mentioned while I was writing! Russian Doll is one of my favorite TV shows, and I was particularly inspired by that—there are actually several little homages to Russian Doll throughout the fic, including Bo’s first death being him getting hit by a car while going out to get cigarettes, which is Nadia’s first death in the show. 

Unusually for me, I wrote the story mostly in chronological order, and though I knew from the beginning of the story that Bo would have some interaction with his past self, and that he needed to learn something about self-acceptance, it took me almost until the end to figure out exactly how and why. 

In the planning of the story’s many death scenes, I drew heavily from the List of Unusual Deaths page on Wikipedia! I incorporated a few of those into the story as they happened, and was inspired by many others.

SUCH: I'm glad to know I had picked up on the Russian Doll influence correctly—I loved the first season of that show and Harry Nilsson's "Gotta Get Up" played in my head for weeks afterward! haha

It makes sense you had to write this fanfic in chronological order...I'm not sure how you could keep track of the deaths otherwise.

Oh, wow! I had never read that Wikipedia list before, but I can see how it helped you envision Bo dying in so many unique and different ways.

So here's a hypothetical question I would love to know your answer to: How would you explain your writing to Bo if you were to meet him in person?

Bea: This would only happen if he, for some reason, was already aware of it and brought it up, and I would probably wither and die, fall to my knees and beg for forgiveness? Lol.

No, I kind of feel like—and this may sound entitled and weird, all due respect to him of course—it’s not for him, and it’s not even really about him. I guess I’d hope he could understand that. Also I would be unable to resist asking him how he feels about clone fucking, generally.

SUCH: Yeah, I'd think he'd be cool with it based on his poem's subject matter.

And I'm not sure if you've seen this, but Armen sent Bo a Zach Stone fanfic on his birthday in which they are getting it on during the sex tape episode. Anyway, here's Bo's succinct response.

Based on that tweet, I'd say Bo is chill with RPF (or at least willing to be) lol.

Do you appreciate getting feedback from your readers? Why or why not?

Bea: I love reader feedback!!!!! Well I love nice reader feedback haha. Unless we’re friends, I don’t want critiques of my fanfiction, leave my id alone! But I love love love nice feedback, of course.

I don’t really think fic readers owe that to me as a writer; I’m truly just doing it because I love it. However, it’s always so lovely to hear that people like your work, and it’s a great way to find like-minded fandom friends.

SUCH: Yes, positive feedback is always appreciated! Negative...not so much lol.

Have you written any fanfic that does not involve Bo? What was the subject matter?

Bea: I’ve written lots of fic for other fandoms. The ones that are currently still available online are about The Goldfinch—my least embarrassing and most pretentious fandom— and Reservoir Dogs, which I’m truthfully a bit embarrassed about, but I’m also quite proud of that fic.

SUCH: Oh, those sound fun! I know Bo is a fan of Quentin Tarantino's writing (he mentions Inglorious Basterds in the Fin Dom podcast episode for example).

YouTube captions, you're drunk

And Tarantino adores one of Bo's comedy heroes, per this Far Out article:

Comedy icons like Jon Stewart as well as future generations of comedians including Bo Burnham have all acknowledged the undeniable influence of Carlin’s artistic brilliance. According to Tarantino, the screenplays of some of his most iconic works such as Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction were modelled after Carlin’s comedy routines.

Finally, you can connect Bo to Quentin via Jerrod Carmichael, since he was working on a now-shelved Django/Zorro script with the famed director.

Please tell me one fun fact about yourself. Do you have any specific hobbies or interests people don't know about?

Bea: In addition to writing, I love various arts and crafts, making incredibly esoteric playlists, and working on my impeccable Marge Simpson impression.

SUCH: Awesome! Maybe you could pick up that voicework from Julie Kavner...she's not hitting those notes as well as she used to, sadly.

Back to Bo. What's your favorite song/special by him? You can name more than one.

Bea: The Inside ending trifecta of That Funny Feeling, All Eyes on Me, and Goodbye is so incredible and special to me.

I absolutely love the alternate Goodbye ending from the Inside Outtakes and have edited together a full version of the song with that ending to listen to. I don’t know if I could pick a favorite special though.

Are You Happy? and Left Brain, Right Brain are both very high-ranking songs for me too.

SUCH: Those are all excellent answers! I adore that Inside trifecta as well.

When you say the alternate Goodbye, do you mean the version where he's screaming as if he's dying in a fire? That always disturbs me, personally.

Still, it's cool that you've created your own mashup!

Do you have any upcoming projects?

Bea: Well, the time loop fic I posted recently took me a good two months to finish, so safe to say it might be a while before I post another story. But I certainly have some ideas (involving more clones, of course) cooking. Watch this space, etc.

SUCH: Oh, my best friend will be SO excited to hear that! They absolutely adore all of your clone stories.

So how can fans best support you? And do you have any social media that you'd like to plug?

Bea: They can come chat with me on Tumblr and ao3 @insidewaltz—I love to chat.

Anyone who likes my writing is welcome to check out my non-Bo fics on my other ao3 account, thenewgothicromance!

SUCH: Fantastic!

This has been truly enlightening, Bea. Thanks for taking the time to chat with me, and good luck with your writing!

Bea: It's my pleasure. Thank you!


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