Bo Burnham: who I listen to, watch, and read when my life is falling apart

Katianna Mansfield

More stories from Katianna Mansfield

I am okay now
February 16, 2018

Cynical, analytical, boundary-pushing, and self-deprecating comedian/musician Bo Burnham is everything I am when my world is crumbling at my feet.

In my opinion, everything in the world should be looked at in a critical way as everything eventually is; this is how we analyze things and judge whether they are working out for us or not. This is how slavery was ended, women were given the right to vote, governments are overthrown, wars are started, and everything else; it all happens because someone asked, “Why? Why is the world like this?”

Using humor, genuine thought, and blasphemous creativity, Burnham critiques the universe, and its inner workings regardless of what people think of his opinions.

However, he tends to contradict himself in his beliefs, cracking jokes and musical intonations about both sides of an argument. He talks about how no one should believe him, his stage persona is not who he genuinely is, and then turns around and breaks down his mind and heart in front of his audience. No one truly knows who Bo Burnham is. This chimes with me on an exceptional level, as I tend to find myself understanding both sides of every single argument. I can’t emphasize on my political views or moral beliefs because I have contradicting ones; every action has its equal and opposite reaction.

I am a naturally analytic human, constantly questioning myself, others, and all aspects around my person. When I am stressed and the supporting walls of my anatomy cave in on each other, I analyze, but in a way that isn’t good for anyone. I degrade myself, my abilities, and my surroundings, and everything in my world becomes a hue of gray. I dissociate, moving through each moment like I’m on a conveyor belt that carries me to every responsibility.

But with Bo Burnham, for the last three years when I’m going through a rough patch, I analyze his words and music instead of myself. I give my head a break to contemplate what I’m listening to: a man just as cynical as myself but doing something with it. Everything he creates is magic, a natural masterpiece for my mind to splay out like a woven blanket and pull at the loose strings trying to find where each one starts and how it contributes to its shape and beauty. In his three shows, his poetry book, his online presence I find solace and my own home in every one of them.

The grays of my life start to tinge with color, eventually growing into their full shades as I create and listen to the soundtrack I use to control my thinking. I come back into myself instead of elsewhere. I go through my day knowing what I’m doing, my goal not being survival and getting through but existing in my life and enjoying it.

The grays of my life start to tinge with color, eventually growing into their full shades as I create and listen to the soundtrack I use to control my thinking.

After I give myself a structure and timing of thinking I should have to stay healthily in my own head, I gradually wean off of him without even trying. It’s like my mind and my heart know when I need him and when I don’t anymore.

As is his final song in Make Happy that broke my heart and struck the ultimate chord, I don’t think I can handle this right now.