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Egghead: or, You Can’t Survive on Ideas Alone

October 20, 2013

Oberlin has an October break, so Walker is home for a week, hanging out, recovering from a cold, and—so far–being very appreciative when I cook something. He and I have planned two excursions to Columbus during this week, one to get his hair cut and the other to see Bo Burnham. Walker and I are fans of Bo Burnham. (So is Eleanor, and we knew she would be a little jealous but she had tickets to see David Tennant as Richard II on the very same day.) So Ron and I set off for Columbus with Walker and Stephanie, picking up another friend, Steven, on the way, and we arrived in time for Steven and Walker to buy posters and me to buy Bo’s signed book, Egghead, before we went into the theater.

Our seats were close to the stage, on the right side, and at one point Bo, who got famous (partly by way of YouTube videos) for his snappy delivery of unabashedly sexual song lyrics, asked if anyone was there with their parents. Walker–I think with Stephanie’s and Steven’s help—made enough noise to catch Bo’s attention onstage, and so he did a joke slower, for us older people. Throughout the rest of the show, he would direct his remarks about whether the act made anybody feel uncomfortable in our direction.

One of our favorite parts was when he started out pretending to read some of his poems from a book that he eventually put on top of his head while still performing the poem…and then reached up to turn the page, replacing the book onto the top of his head. He is a master of comic timing, and I found that the poems, which are—trust me—screamingly funny when he performs them, pretty lackluster on the page. They should always be spoken word poems. Here’s an example, one stanza of a poem that had me breathless with laughter in the theater, regardless of my role as the mother of the row:
“I have a list. A list? Yes, a list of all the sluts I’ve missed.
I’ve never fucked or sucked these sluts and thus my nuts are fucking pissed.
So when I fuck the lucky slut, my nut removes her from the list—
Another dumb cumbucket struck from my nut-sucking, “suck it, slut!” slut-fucking bucket list.”

One of my favorite jokes is the end of his song “Ironic,” when it ends abruptly. I found a faint echo of that in his poem “Incomparable”
“You’re incomparable like a…
Like a…”

Walker’s friend Steven, who has mime training, ventured his opinion that Bo might have had mime training too, because he’s so good at showing what he means with the least little movement. He did not perform his poem “TreeHouseTree” but I’m guessing he could make you get the joke immediately, rather than after the moment it’s taken everyone to whom I’ve read the poem out loud, so far:
“I went out to play on Christmas Day
and thought, ‘Hey, wait a minute!
My tree has a house in it!
And my house has a tree in it!’”

I would also love to see him perform “Nothing” out loud:
“Are you terrified, as I am,
of nothing?
Nothing scares me more
than nothing.

‘What’s going on?’ I ask, trembling.
Don’t you say it.
Don’t you dare.”

The fun of the show is the intelligent treatment of the topics, combined with Bo’s rapid-fire pace, as in this stanza about “Fear”
“The first was acro-claustro-homo-archnophobic,
terrified of being trapped in a very small,
very high-up place with a bunch of gay spiders.”

It was wonderful to be in the audience when Bo performed his encore song “Art is Dead,” with the verse about how the audience has spent money they’ve worked hard for to buy tickets to his show. I thought it was worth it.

After the show, Walker and Steven got in line to have their posters signed and Bo came out to scrawl his name on the arm of his own image.IMG950992-1 Then one of his people used Walker’s camera to take a photo of all of us. It was weird, I thought, to pose so close to someone we didn’t know but have admired so intensely for so long—weird, but good. Like the entire evening.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. October 21, 2013 7:26 am

    I’ve not heard of Bo, but I’m glad you all got to meet him afterwards, that’s always such a bonus. And obviously I don’t know how much more Eleanor likes David Tennant than Bo, but that’s surely a fair trade and I hope she had a good evening too 🙂

    Poems, music, anything that sounds better live is absolutely brilliant except for the fact that you can never really recreate it at home/afterwards. Though of course that’s the point of going to a show (and sometimes for getting out the phone).

    • October 23, 2013 8:58 am

      He was really nice about the phones, although at one point he did say something about youtube and how comedy on the internet is not a good idea.

  2. October 21, 2013 12:47 pm

    Can I make Eleanor seriously jealous by saying that I’m going to see David Tennant’s Richard II in the flesh a week on Saturday. Living very close to Stratford is a real privilege.

    • October 23, 2013 8:57 am

      You live close to Stratford? I met an imaginary friend there a few years ago, Jody from Bookgazing. Eleanor’s post with her signed program is here:

      • October 23, 2013 12:21 pm

        I thought from your post that Eleanor had seen the version screened in cinemas. I am so glad she got to see the real thing. Oh yes, I am about forty-five minutes drive away and not only do I go over to the theatre (and have been doing so for more than fifty years now) but I also get to work at the Shakespeare Institute with some of the greatest Shakespeare scholars in the world. I am one very lucky lady. If you ever find yourself in the area again then do be sure to let me know.

        • October 23, 2013 7:23 pm

          What fun! I hope to bring myself to the area again. We’ve traveled to England four times now, and always included a trip to Stratford (and usually a play; we are known for planning trips that include 9 plays in 7 days).

  3. Jenny permalink
    October 21, 2013 12:48 pm

    Oh how fantastic. I wanted to send that YouTube video to all my friends. The good ones, anyway. Thanks for that.

    • October 23, 2013 8:59 am

      Glad you liked it. There are more compact versions of “Ironic” but I liked the back-and-forth in between him singing the song.

  4. October 22, 2013 9:37 pm

    Wow, that is quite a poem! I can imagine it would be better performed, with all the rhythms and emphasis and whatnot. Sounds like a fun night!

    • October 23, 2013 9:00 am

      You mean the slut one. Yeah. Partly that was to give you a taste of what I mean by unabashedly sexual.


  1. Book review: Egghead or, You Can’t Survive on Ideas Alone – Bo Burnham | Imogen Bell Writing

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