top of page
  • Writer's pictureStand-Up Comedy Historian

Bo Burnham FAQs—The Complete List

Updated: Feb 24

Before I pack up the BBH moniker for good (my old domain name expires on 4/30!), I wanted to put together a comprehensive list of the frequent questions I've read and heard about Bo and his works.



Let's go!


Q: When and where was Bo born?


A: Robert Pickering Burnham was born to his parents Scott and Patricia Burnham on August 21, 1990. He has two older siblings—Samm (6 year age difference, born in 1984) and Pete (3 year age difference, born in 1987). Bo was born in Hamilton, Massachusetts.


Q: What color is Bo's hair? His eyes?


A: There has been a lot of confusion since Inside as to the natural color of Bo's hair.


While he appears to have brown hair at points in the special, he actually has dirty blonde hair. It can look reddish in certain lights though!


Similarly, Bo's eyes can appear to be a different color depending on the lighting, but he has soft blue eyes in person.



Q: How tall is Bo?


A: While the official answer is 6'5, Bo has repeatedly said in interviews that he is more likely 6'6-6'7 with shoes on.


So yeah...VERY tall.



Q: Did Bo attend college?


A: No. Although he was accepted to attend multiple universities in 2008, including Brown and Harvard ("fuck me for my hard work/that got me into Harvard" in Eff), he decided to defer going to NYU for a year and then never went.



Q: Is Bo married or in a relationship?


A: Bo has never been married, as far as anyone knows.


He had been dating writer/director Lorene Scafaria since 2012, but they apparently broke up in late 2022 (likely in October).


Bo is a very private person in general (he only started to say Lorene's name in public during the Eighth Grade press tour), but he is currently dating singer-songwriter Phoebe Bridgers as of November 2022.



You can read a timeline of their burgeoning relationship here.


Q: How many comedy specials has Bo released? Where can I watch them?


A: Bo has five different specials (I'm counting the Outtakes as a separate special since it was nominated as one) and one Comedy Central Presents episode:

  • Words Words Words (on Paramount+)

  • what. (on Netflix and YouTube)

  • Make Happy (on Netflix)

  • Inside (on Netflix)

  • Inside Outtakes (on Netflix and YouTube)


You can read about them in his primer here.


Q: Does Bo hate his parents? He says his father told him he acts too flamboyant on stage, and his mother sounds very homophobic in what.



A: That's all a joke with Bo's persona while he's performing.


Bo loves both of his parents in real life (although he sometimes calls his dad a big dummy), and he says he had a very supportive childhood. Here's Scott gushing about his son to some fans back when Bo's dad would man the merch table.


Bo's dad filming everything at Bo's WGA acceptance speech in 2019


I don't think Bo would gush about his mother's hospice work and write 1985 ("I wanna be my dad!") if he actually disliked them!



Q: Bo said he didn't perform for 5 years between Make Happy and Inside. Was he actually just staying at home and working on himself and his mental struggles? And did he build a birdhouse at 27?


A: I'm sure Bo was using that time to exercise and practice mindfulness, but no. He wasn't out of the spotlight completely during that hiatus.


Bo wrote and directed the critically acclaimed middle school dramedy Eighth Grade. He also directed comedy specials for Jerrod Carmichael (8) and Chris Rock (Tamborine). Finally, Bo starred in the Oscar-winning film Promising Young Woman with Carey Mulligan. Not too shabby!


Oh, and he was 27 when he was promoting his film before its theatrical release. Maybe he built a birdhouse with his mom then? Or it just worked with the rhythm as he says lol.


Q: Bo obviously created the quintessential piece of pandemic art and will probably always be associated with 2020. But I have to know: has he ever gotten COVID-19?


A: Excellent question! Yes, despite self-isolating for over a year, Bo contracted the Rona in February of 2022.


How do I know this since he is such a secretive person?


"Jerrod, especially, is just such a beautiful-looking person that you want to film in close-up" [Bo describing filming 8 at 12:25 minutes in during his Talks at Google interview in 2018]


His best friend Jerrod Carmichael spilled the beans to the LA Times in May of 2022 while discussing their collaboration on the Emmy-winning comedy special Rothaniel:


How did you feel after filming the show? Was it cathartic?
Me and Bo and Lorene and Eli [Bush] had Prince Street Pizza. There’s one in L.A. and one in New York. And we tried the Little Prince and it’s this square pizza: thick crust, sauce, cheese, more sauce. So good, so thick and rich. It was the best pizza I’ve ever had in my whole life. That’s how I felt immediately after taping that night. It was beautiful.
And then Bo got COVID and we just had an “Odd Couple” [situation] the whole week.

He did look exhausted when I saw him at the taping, so I'm not surprised he got sick (and I'm actually shocked I didn't get it until May that year—the Blue Note is TINY and we were packed in like sardines with no masks while filming lol).


Q: I am obsessed with 1985/Microwave Popcorn. Where can I watch the full music video?


A: I've got some good news and some bad news.


The bad news is that Bo never recorded full videos for either of these songs (known on TikTok as "I just met my dad in 1985" and "I put the packet on the glass"). Both singles were entirely new songs on the Inside Outtakes album, and they only get a brief mention in the First Month section of the special.



The good news is that many people have stepped up to the plate and have made their own wonderful renditions of those songs.


My personal favorite for 1985 is this retro take by Adventures.



My fave for Microwave Popcorn is this one by Davy.



If you are looking for more Inside Outtakes music videos, please check out my best Outtakes videos post for more recommendations.


Q: I've watched all of the items on your Bo primer, and I'm desperate for new content.


What else is out there for me to consume?


A: Congrats on watching every piece related to Bo! That's no small undertaking.


To answer your question, YES! I've created a list of his best video essays, best Inside videos, best interviews, and best podcasts! You can find all of those posts here.


I'm also currently working on a post for May that includes a scholarly resource or article for each day of the month [Ed. Note: here it is]!


Q: I read online that Justin Bieber actually saw Bo perform his scathing takedown of pop music, Repeat Stuff. Was Bieber at the taping of what.?


A: You've got some details incorrect, but yes, Bieber did get to hear Bo insinuate he works for the devil at a performance (it was at the Largo, not at the taping of Bo's special, and Selena Gomez was there too apparently).


Bo recounted this bizarre experience on Conan when he was promoting Zach Stone Is Gonna Be Famous.


Fun fact: At a Philly show in 2010, Bo sang Baby by Justin Bieber to the crowd since a group of girls thought Bo was Justin's opening act. You can hear the interaction starting at 4:30 in here, with the song starting at 6:35 minutes in. Enjoy!


Q: Bo is clearly a well-respected musician, but I never see him playing from a music book or anything. Does he just memorize all of his songs?


A: Yes, that seems to be the case! Bo has said on multiple occasions that he does not know how to read OR write music. He even tweeted about his inability to use sheet music!



This is also one of the barriers Bo has to writing a Broadway musical, but I think he could find his Robert Lopez like Matt and Trey did for their smash hit The Book of Mormon.



Q: I've been watching all of Bo's amazing Eighth Grade interviews, and he keeps mentioning that he first saw Elsie online in a YouTube video talking about desserts or something and wanted to cast them as Kayla Day immediately.


Do you know where to find this video? I would like to see what about Elsie made Bo know they were the one to play his anxious protagonist.


A: Yes, the infamous red carpet interview that led to Bo reaching out to Elsie. Good question!


I was able to locate this video from 2016 of them at a gifting suite where they discuss brownies that is likely the same one Bo was talking about. They are definitely endearing in it!



Q: Bo's second song was called My Little Secret and he makes a joke about how small his dick is in Theoretical Dick Jokes in Words Words Words. However, I saw Sexting in Inside, and I'm certain that is not the case. Was he lying before?



A: Yes. Bo likes to exaggerate (it's sort of a fundamental aspect of comedy that people tend to forget), and opposites are often funny.


Like you said, Sexting shows that is definitely a lie and you can verify it in a few ways outside of Inside (lol).


He has ENORMOUS hands, he's 6'5 at least, and he told Marc Maron in his first WTF interview that his dick is proportional to his shoe size (15). So you be the judge! ;)



Q: Why isn't there a Make Happy CD/vinyl? My music streaming service skips from what. to Inside. What gives?


A: Yeah, you're going to be waiting a while for that to come to fruition. Netflix has exclusive rights to everything involving Make Happy, so it doesn't seem likely you'll get to hear Can't Handle This on your record player any time soon...fingers crossed though!


You can read more about Bo's complete discography here.


Q: I keep seeing this Amazon ad with a dude who looks like Bo. Did he sell his soul to Jeffrey Preston Bezos?



A: Nope. That is Bo's weird-ass doppelganger in that ad, but you are not the first person to notice the similarity!


For more on Bo and ads, check out my full post here.


Q: So I was watching what. again, and I noticed that Bo licks his finger to turn the page in his little black book. How was he able to do that AND spit out water during the introduction miming bit ("Oh, shit. That water's REAL!")?



A: Good eye! So that was a bit of Hollywood magic, per Bo on Twitter. He is holding water in his mouth later, but the earlier scene is spliced in seamlessly.



Q: What's that circular mark on Bo's cheek? Did he have a mole or something removed?


A: Watch the Inside Outtakes or listen to the song This Isn't a Joke for the full backstory, but he's had that scar since he was born (he came out FACE first).



Q: There is a scene in the Outtakes where Bo is testing a black light and he notices two of his teeth are discolored. What's up with that? Did Bo have dental work done in the past?


A: Yes, you've got it! Specifically, Bo had an incident when he was 16 that left him with two broken teeth that had to be repaired on Easter after an egg hunt went horribly wrong.



Bo discusses this traumatic event in his humorous recounting on Conan here, and you can read others' thoughts on the subject (including a dental worker's opinion of his teeth!) here.


In addition, Bo definitely has had some other work done (likely veneers) since he looked quite different pre-Make Happy. He still has that one long bottom tooth though!



Q: I swear I've heard that "moist" joke in the Outtakes from Bo before. Am I going crazy (would I even know)?


A: No, you're not right back where you started 14 years ago haha.


Bo DID crib that specific joke from his 2013 tweet!



Gotta love the self-congratulatory clapter though—just perfect.



Q: Bo mentions his daughter a lot in his songs (Can't Handle This, The Future). Does he actually have any children?


A: Again, Bo does not talk about his private life, but in this case, no.


He does not have a daughter or son currently (he apparently crochets instead lol).


Oh, and to nip this rumor in the bud, the ending of Make Happy is not Bo uniting with his wife and newborn child as many mistakenly believe—Bo and Lorene were not married as far as we know, and the "baby" is their puppy Bruce. That is definitely the ruhm from Inside though!



Q: Why do people call Bo's guesthouse "the ruhm"? Is that its official name or something?


A: No, haha. That's just the fandom's joke about Bo's New England accent.


He also says "drawring" and "sawr" and has a few other different pronunciations for terms that we like to point out. It's all in good fun!


Q: Is Bo Catholic? He mentions the Church in a lot of his songs and comments on religion frequently.


Also the whole Bosus thing.



A: This particular topic comes up repeatedly, and Wikipedia has it WRONG in my opinion.


He was NOT raised Catholic...even the reference just says he attended a Catholic school


Bo has said multiple times that his parents and family are Presbyterian Christians, but he grew up around many Catholics in Massachusetts and attended a prep school for Catholic boys (you do NOT have to be Catholic to attend the school, plus his mom Pattie was the school nurse, so he got free tuition).


He even explicitly says he's not Catholic to Marc Maron in a WTF interview from 2011.



He did say that he wanted to be a priest or minister when he was younger, but that didn't pan out.



Suck it, Wikipedia!


Oh, and here's Bo's most recent discussion on religion and spirituality on the H3 Podcast (Church is for everyone!).



Q: Bo says he "took a big fucking breath" after his blown take in Look Who's Inside Again, but I didn't hear him breathe deeply until AFTER he says that. What gives?


A: A lot of people are confused by this one. Here's my Tumblr post where I lay out why he is talking in the past tense about a future event (TLDR version: it's a note to himself when editing later to remind him which take has the big breath).


Q: What is the "Mr. Bucket" that Bo raps about in Eff?


A: Yeah, Bo is a true millennial, and a lot of his jokes in earlier songs probably don't make much sense to younger people. In addition, international fans likely don't get his very specific lyrics that incorporate American pop culture.


But fear not! I've taken the time to create a glossary of his most obscure references. Hope you find it helpful and, yes, Mr. Bucket is on there!


Q: What's Bo working on now?


A: Your guess is as good as mine!


Part of being a Bo fan is waiting for years to see what he will present to us suddenly.


Luckily, Bo always seems to have something in the pipeline, but don't expect a new comedy special every year from him...you're bound to be disappointed.


He most recently wrapped up directing Kate in New York City in February, and the only known project he's tied to that may be coming out soon-ish (and that's a BIG maybe) is the struggling Sesame Street movie, which he first signed up to do in June 2019 (!).




If there are any questions I forgot to include or if you have something you'd like to know more about that relates to Bo and his works, please reach out!

Recent Posts

See All

Comments


bottom of page