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  • Writer's pictureStand-Up Comedy Historian

Bo Burnham and Instruments: Part 2 (published on Twitter on 3/19/22)

Updated: May 17, 2023

For Part 1 (Bo's history with musical instruments), please click here.

As we saw pre-Inside, Bo was beginning to incorporate more instruments into his music aside from the piano/keyboard and guitar.

Inside adds at least four new instruments to his list!

Disclaimer: I am NOT a musician, and I haven't played a musical instrument since the flute in 8th grade.

Please let me know if I have anything wrong or if you know of specific instruments Bo plays in Inside that I missed. Like Bo said, "feel free to correct me"

  1. The tambourine

This is again a percussion instrument that Bo includes in at least two different songs: Content and the peppy instrumental for the YouTuber-with-a-knife scene

However, the reason I noticed the tambourine music is that the instrument appears on Bo's desk throughout the special (usually under a keyboard).

This is speculation, but I wonder if Bo's inclusion of this instrument is a reference to the Chris Rock special he directed of the same name in 2018.

And, fun fact: there's a reference to a tambourine in Promising Young Woman! A guy got his dick caught in one apparently haha

2. The melodica

Now this is a really cool and unique instrument. If you've never heard of it, here's a video of a woman playing Unpaid Intern on one:

My best guess is that the melodica is used in two songs: Sexting and All Eyes On Me

Similar to the tambourine, the melodica is visible throughout the special (usually sitting on Bo's red couch).

3. The ukulele

Like the guitar Bo has played since he was a teen, this instrument shows up in some early photoshoots, so it IS possible he's played one before.

However, there is one catchy, upbeat piece in Inside that definitely features the instrument: the YouTuber sketch!

4. The waterphone

This is the coolest instrument of the bunch and makes eerie sounds perfect for horror films:

While I'm not sure this is the EXACT instrument used in Inside, the waterphone's sound matches that of the beginning and ending of the special when Bo enters and leaves the ruhm

Further evidence that Bo has an instrument like the waterphone is found on his dresser, where an item with multiple rods sits throughout the special

Here's a waterphone:

And here's the instrument on Bo's dresser (hard to see, so zoom in for a closer look)

In addition to these four instruments, Bo also adds synthesizer music, various sound effects (particularly in Problematic and WTTI), and bass.

Despite that, my favorite song in Inside is just the man and his guitar

I hope you enjoyed this deep dive into Bo Burnham's instruments!


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