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Bo Burnham's new Netflix comedy special "Inside" is jam-packed with references to his previous work.
So we broke down each song and sketch and analyzed their meaning and context.
"Inside" feels like the creative culmination of Bo Burnham's career over the last 15 years, starting with his first viral YouTube video in 2006.
Burnham was just 16 years old when he wrote a parody song ("My Whole Family...") and filmed himself performing it in his bedroom. He uploaded it to YouTube, a then barely-known website that offered an easy way for people to share videos, so he could send it to his brother.
Burnham had no idea that his song would be seen more than 10 million times, nor that it would kick start his career in a niche brand of self-aware musical comedy.
Fifteen years later, Burnham found himself sheltering in place during the COVID-19 pandemic and decided to sit back down at his piano and see if he could once again entertain the world from the claustrophobic confines of a single room.
The result, a special titled "Inside," shows all of Burnham's brilliant instincts of parody and meta-commentary on the role of white, male entertainers in the world and of poisons found in internet culture — that digital space that gave him a career and fostered a damaging anxiety disorder that led him to quit performing live comedy after 2015.
But now Burnham is back. Instead of a live performance, he's recorded himself in isolation over the course of a year.
So let's dive into "Inside" and take a closer look at nearly every song and sketch in Burnham's special.
The opening shot of "Inside" makes it clear that Burnham is threading the start of his new special with the very end of his 2016 special, "Make Happy."
"Inside" kicks off with Burnham reentering the same small studio space he used for the end of "Make Happy," when the 2016 Netflix special transitioned from the live stage to Burnham suddenly sitting down at his piano by himself to sing one final song for the at-home audience.
At the beginning of "Inside," Burnham is not only coming back to that same room, but he's wearing a very similar outfit: jeans, T-shirt, and sneakers — picking up right back where he left off.
Performing "Make Happy" was mentally taxing on Burnham. Years later, the comedian told NPR's Terry Gross that performing the special was so tough that he was having panic attacks on stage.
He decided to stop doing live performances, and instead set out to write and direct his first feature film, the critically-acclaimed 2018 movie "Eighth Grade." He also costarred in the Oscar-winning movie "Promising Young Woman," filmed in 2019.
How "Make Happy" ended is vital to understanding the start of "Inside."
During the last 15 minutes of "Make Happy," Burnham turns the comedy switch down a bit and begins talking to the audience about how his comedy is almost always about performing itself because he thinks people are, at all times, doing a "performance" for one another.
"They say it's like the 'me' generation. It's not. The arrogance is taught or it was cultivated. It's self-conscious. That's what it is. It's conscious of self. Social media; it's just the market's answer to a generation that demanded to perform so the market said, here, perform. Perform everything to each other, all the time for no reason. It's prison. Its horrific."
Burnham then kicks back into song, still addressing his audience, who seem unsure of whether to laugh, applaud, or sit somberly in their chairs.
"A part of me loves you, part of me hates you," he sang to the crowd. "Part of me needs you, part of me fears you. And I don't think that I can handle this right now. Look at them, they're just staring at me, like 'Come and watch the skinny kid with a steadily declining mental health, and laugh as he attempts to give you what he cannot give himself.'"
At the start of "Inside," Burnham says he's been "a little depressed" so he's going to try getting back to work.
"Robert's been a little depressed, no!" he sings as he refers to his birth name. "And so today I'm gonna try just getting up, sitting down, going back to work. Might not help but still it couldn't hurt. I'm sitting down, writing jokes, singing silly songs, I'm sorry I was gone. But look, I made you some content. Daddy made you your favorite, open wide."
Right after the song ends, the shot of Burnham's guest house returns but this time it's filled with clutter.
The clean, tidy interior that first connected "Inside" with "Make Happy" is gone — in its place is a mess-riddled space.
The title card appears in white, then changes to red, signaling that a camera is recording.
We see a series of meta scenes that show Burnham setting up his cameras and lights. Then a quick flash of his future self bursts in to glance at the audience.
Burnham's hair is shorter in those initial behind-the-scenes moments, but his future-self has a longer, unkempt beard and messy hair.
When that future-Burnham appears, it's almost like a precursor to what he'll have shown us by the end of the special: That both he, and his audience, could never have known just how brutal the next year was about to be.
Burnham makes it clear that "Inside" is a poioumenon - a type of artistic work that tells the story of its own creation.
Poioumenon (from the Greek word for "product") is a term created by author Alastair Fowler and usually used to refer to a kind of metafiction.
"The poioumenon is calculated to offer opportunities to explore the boundaries of fiction and reality – the limits of narrative truth," Fowler wrote in his book "A History of English Literature."
TikTok creator @TheWoodMother made a video about how Burnham's "Inside" is its own poioumenon thanks to the meta scenes of Burnham setting up lights and cameras, not to mention the musical numbers like "Content" and "Comedy" that all help to tell the story of Burnham making this new special.
Having this frame of reference may help viewers better understand the design of "Inside." Burnham is an extraordinary actor, and "Inside" often feels like we're watching the intimate, real interior life of an artist. But by using this meta-narrative throughout the whole special, Burnham messes with our ability to know when we're seeing a genuine struggle with artistic expression versus a meticulously staged fictional breakdown.
His first full song in "Inside" is a parody of his own internal debate over whether or not he should be "joking at a time like this" - complete with a whiteboard mapping how to tell if a joke is funny or not.
The flow chat for "Is it funny?" begins with the question "Is it mean?" and concludes that if it's mean, it's not funny.
On the other two sides of that question ("no" and "not sure") the flowchart asks if it could be "interpreted" as mean (if so, then it's "not funny") or if it "punches down."
How does one know if the joke punches down?
Burnham wrote out: "Does it target those who have been disenfranchised in a historical, political, social, economic and/or psychological context?"
If the answer is yes, then it's not funny.
This whiteboard comedy equation seems to hearken back to one of Burnham's songs from his very first Netflix special.
Not only is this whiteboard a play on the classic comedy rule that "tragedy plus time equals comedy," but it's a callback to Burnham's older work.
In his first Netflix special (2013's "what."), Burnham sang a parody song called "Sad" about, well, all the sad stuff in the world. But by the end of the tune, his narrative changes into irreverence.
"Everything that once was sad is somehow funny now, the Holocaust and 9/11, that s---'s funny, 24-7, 'cause tragedy will be exclusively joked about, because my empathy iss bumming me out," he sang. "Goodbye sadness, hello jokes!"
Now, five years later, Burnham's new parody song is digging even deeper at the philosophical question of whether or not it's appropriate to be creating comedy during a horrifyingly raw period of tragedy like the COVID-19 pandemic and the social reckoning that followed George Floyd's murder.
Another of Burnham's mock lessons on comedy breaks up movies, TV, stand-up, podcasts, and social media into "funny" bubbles.
Let's take a closer look at just a few of those bubbles, shall we?
Under the movies section, there's a bubble that says "sequel to classic comedy that everyone watches and then pretends never happened" and "Thor's comebacks."
Under the TV section, he has "adults playing twister" (something he referenced in "Make Happy" when he said that celebrity lip-syncing battles were the "end of culture") and "9 season love letter to corporate labor" (which is likely referencing "The Office").
Under stand up, Burnham wrote "Middle-aged men protecting free speech by humping stools and telling stories about edibles" and "podcasts."
And last but not least, for social media he put "sexually pranking unsuspecting women at public beaches" and "psychologically abusive parents making rube goldberg machines" alongside "white people using GIFs of Black people widening their eyes."
After the "FaceTime with My Mom" song, Burnham shows another behind-the-scenes look at himself working. A flash image appears in the corner, showing himself roleplaying as a Twitch streamer.
This plays almost like a glitch and goes unexplained until later in the special when a sketch plays out with Burnham as a Twitch streamer who is testing out a game called "INSIDE" (in which the player has to have a Bo Burnham video game character do things like cry, play the piano, and find a flashlight in order to complete their day).
By inserting that Twitch character in this earlier scene, Burnham was seemingly giving a peek into his daily routine.
The song "That's How the World Works" employs the use of a sock puppet, a likely reference to one of Burnham's favorite comedians - Hans Teeuwen.
Back in 2010, Burnham appeared on Showtime's "The Green Room," a comics round table hosted by Paul Provenza. At just 20 years old, Burnham was a guest alongside Judd Apatow, Marc Maron, Ray Romano, and Garry Shandling.
During that taping, Burnham said his favorite comic at the time was Hans Teeuwen, a "Dutch absurdist," who has a routine with a sock puppet that eats a candy bar as Teeuwen sings.
Teeuwen's performance shows a twisted, codependent relationship between him and the puppet on his hand, something Burnham is clearly channeling in his own sock puppet routine in "Inside."
The whole song ping pongs between Burnham's singing character describing a very surface-level, pleasant definition of the world functioning as a cohesive ecosystem and his puppet, Socko, saying that the truth is the world functions at a much darker level of power imbalance and oppression.
When Burnham's character decides he doesn't want to actually hear criticism from Socko, he threatens to remove him, prompting Socko's subservience once again, because "that's how the world works."
The song "White Woman's Instagram" is edited primarily into the square format of an Instagram photo, but the aspect ratio opens up when the song touches on an example of genuine emotion.
Throughout the song and its accompanying visuals, Burnham is highlighting the "girlboss" aesthetic of many white women's Instagram accounts. The tropes he says you may find on a white woman's Instagram page are peppered with cultural appropriation ("a dreamcatcher bought from Urban Outfitters") and ignorant political takes ("a random quote from 'Lord of the Rings' misattributed to Martin Luther King").
But during the bridge of the song, he imagines a post from a woman dedicated to her dead mother, and the aspect ratio on the video widens.
It's as if Burnham is showing how wholesale judgments about the way people choose to use social media can gloss over earnest, genuine expressions of love and grief being shared online.
He's also giving us a visual representation of the way social media feeds can jarringly swing between shallow photos and emotional posts about trauma and loss.
At the end of the song, "Inside" cuts to a shot of Burnham watching his own video on a computer in the dark. He's self-evaluating his own visual creation in the same way people will often go back to look at their Instagram stories or posts to see how it looks after they've shared it.
Burnham's entire comedic ethos can be summed up in the reaction-to-the-reaction-of-the-reaction video bit.
Next in his special, Burnham performs a sketch song about being an unpaid intern, and then says he's going to do a "reaction" video to the song in classic YouTube format. But then the video keeps playing, and so he winds up reacting to his own reaction, and then reacting yet again to that reaction.
At the second level of the reaction video, Burnham says: "I'm being a little pretentious. It's an instinct that I have where I need everything that I write to have some deeper meaning or something, but it's a stupid song and it doesn't really mean anything, and it's pretty unlikable that I feel this desperate need to be seen as intelligent."
Then he moves into a new layer of reaction, where he responds to that previous comment.
"I'm criticizing my initial reaction for being pretentious, which is honestly a defense mechanism," he says. "I'm so worried that criticism will be levied against me that I levy it against myself before anyone else can. And I think that, 'Oh if I'm self-aware about being a douchebag it'll somehow make me less of a douchebag.' But it doesn't. Self-awareness does not absolve anybody of anything."
Burnham's career as a young, white, male comedian has often felt distinct from his peers because of the amount of public self-reflection and acknowledgment of his own privileges that he does on stage and off screen. (For example, the song "Straight, White, Male" from the "Make Happy" special).
As he shows in this new sketch, he's aware at a meta level that simply trying to get ahead of the criticism that could be tossed his way is itself a performance sometimes. He's freely admitting that self-awareness isn't enough while also clearly unable to move away from that self-aware comedic space he so brilliantly holds.
During "Sexting," Burnham's projector shows a text from someone spiraling while trying to communicate about making sure both parties are enjoying the experience.
To save you the time freeze-framing, here's the complete message:
"No pressure by the way at any point we can stop i just want to make sure ur comfortable all this and please dont feel obligated to send anything you dont want to just cuz i want things doesnt mean i should get them and its sometimes confusing because i think you enjoy it when i beg and express how much i want you but i dont ever want that to turn into you feeling pressured into doing something you don't want or feeling like youre disappointing me this is just meant to be fun and if at any point its not fun for you we can stop and im sorry if me saying this is killing the mood i just like —"
Also, Burnham's air conditioner is set to precisely 69 degrees throughout this whole faux music video.
Next, Burnham does some introspection on the video that started his whole career: "My Whole Family."
"Trying to be funny and stuck in a room, there isn't much more to say about it," he starts in a new song after fumbling a first take. "I was a kid who was stuck in his room, there isn't much more to say about it. When you're a kid and you're stuck in your room, you'll do any old s--- to get out of it."
At first hearing, this is a simple set of lyrics about the way kids deal with struggles throughout adolescence, particularly things like anxiety and depression.
Burnham spent his teen years doing theater and songwriting, which led to his first viral video on YouTube — a song he now likely categorizes as "offensive."
Burnham has been open about the way his own standards for "appropriate" comedy have changed rapidly in the last 15 years.
When he appeared on NPR's radio show "Fresh Air" with Terry Gross in 2018, the host played a clip of "My Whole Family" and Burnham took his headphones off so he didn't have to relisten to the song.
The song, written in 2006, is about how his whole family thinks he's gay, and the various conversations they're having trying to figure it out.
"I was in a full body sweat, so I didn't hear most of that," Burnham said after the clip played. "Truly, it's like, for a 16-year-old kid in 2006, it's not bad. But the cultural standards of what is appropriate comedy and also the inner standards of my own mind have changed rapidly since I was 16."
When asked about the inspiration for the song, like if people he knew thought he was gay, Burnham said, "A lot of my close friends were gay, and, you know, I wasn't certain I wasn't at that point."
Gross asked Burnham if people "misinterpreted" the song and thought it was homophobic.
"I don't know that it's not," he said. "I don't defend my 16-year-old comedy at all ... I have a lot of material from back then that I'm not proud of and I think is offensive and I think is not helpful."
"I do not think my intention was homophobic, but what is the implicit comedy of that song if you chase it all the way down? I don't think it's perfectly morally defendable."
That's why a chilling, droning sound plays during the next shot of Burnham watching that first viral video on a projector before cutting to a song about holding him accountable.
"Problematic" is a roller coaster of self-awareness, masochism, and parody.
The whole video is filmed like one big thirst trap as he sweats and works out. But the lyrics Burnham sings seem to imply that he wants to be held accountable for thoughtless and offensive jokes of his past:
"Father please forgive me for I did not realize what I did, or that I'd live to regret it, times are changing and I'm getting old, are you gonna hold me accountable?"
It's as if Burnham knows there are valid criticisms of him that haven't really stuck in the public discourse around his work. Instead, thanks to his ultra-self-aware style, he seems to always get ahead of criticism by holding himself accountable first.
He puts himself on a cross using his projector, and the whole video is him exercising, like he's training for when he's inevitably "canceled."
The final shot is of him looking positively orgasmic, eyes closed, on the cross. Like he's parodying white people who think that by crucifying themselves first they're somehow freed from the consequences of their actions. Burnham may also be trying to parody the hollow, PR-scripted apologies that celebrities will trot out before they've possibly had the time to self-reflect and really understand what people are trying to hold them accountable for.
When Burnham knocks his camera over, it seems like a truly accidental moment. But in his past specials, Burnham has meticulously timed "accidents" as a way to mess with the audience.
Known as "Art is a Lie, Nothing is Real," there's a bit Burnham did at the start of his 2013 special "what." that shows this exact meta style. While talking to the audience during the opening section, Burnham takes a sip out of a water bottle.
"This show is called 'what.,' and I hope there are some surprises for you," he says as he goes to set down the water bottle.
But Burnham doesn't put the bottle down right, and it falls off the stool.
"Oh Jesus, sorry," Burnham says, hurrying over to pick it up. "That's a good start."
Right as Burnham is straightening up, music begins blaring over the speakers and Burnham's own voice sings: "He meant to knock the water over, yeah yeah yeah, but you all thought it was an accident. But he meant to knock the water over, yeah yeah yeah, art is a lie — nothing is real."
He then pulls the same joke again, letting the song play after the audience's applause so it seems like a mistake. But then the music tells the audience that "he meant to play the track again" and that "art's still a lie, nothing's still real."
So in "Inside," when we see Burnham recording himself doing lighting set up and then accidentally pull down his camera — was that a real blooper he decided to edit in? Or was it an elaborate callback to his earlier work, planted for fans seeking evidence that art is lie?
Next, Bo ruminates on turning 30 years old after working on the special for six months. His past self appears for a split second, mirroring the earlier blip in the special.
Remember how Burnham's older, more-bearded self popped up at the beginning of "Inside" when we were watching footage of him setting up the cameras and lighting?
Well now the shots are reversed. An older Burnham sits at a stool in front of a clock, and he says into a microphone that he's been working on the special for six months now. That's when the younger Burnham, the one from the beginning of his special-filming days, appears.
It's a reminder, coming almost exactly halfway through the special, of the toll that this year is taking on Burnham.
He says his goal had been to complete filming before his 30th birthday. But, like so many other plans and hopes people had in the early months of the pandemic, that goal proved unattainable.
After a brief "intermission," we finally see the full version of the Twitch-streamer-Bo who glitched into the special earlier.
This sketch, like the "White Woman Instagram" song, shows one of Burnham's writing techniques of bringing a common Internet culture into a fictionalized bit. You can tell that he's watched a ton of livestream gamers, and picked up on their intros, the way the talk with people in the chat, the cadence of their commentary on the game, everything.
Burnham achieved a similar uncanny sense of realism in his movie "Eighth Grade," the protagonist of which is a 13-year-old girl with extreme social anxiety who makes self-help YouTube videos.
Burnham has said in interviews that his inspiration for the character came from real YouTube videos he had watched, most with just a handful of views, and saw the way young women expressed themselves online.
There's also another little joke baked into this bit, because the game is made by a company called SSRI interactive — the most common form of antidepressant drugs are called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, aka SSRIs.
When the game ends, the screen says "another night approaches" and then it cuts to Burnham getting into bed. This kicks of a section of the special that seems entirely focused on a downward mental spiral.
While he's laying in bed, eyes about the close, the screen shows a flash of an open door. It's a hint at the promised future; the possibility of once again being able to go outside and feel sunlight again.
But before that can register, Burnham's eyes have closed and the special transitions to the uncannily catchy song "S---," bopping about how he hasn't showered in nine days or done any laundry.
"That Funny Feeling" is a song about things that make you feel like you're living in a warped simulation or have totally disassociated from reality, or perhaps have begun to accept that we're at the edge of the collapse of civilization.
In the song, Burnham specifically mentions looking up "derealization," a disorder that may "feel like you're living in a dream."
The Mayo Clinic defines depersonalization-derealization disorder as occurring "when you persistently or repeatedly have the feeling that you're observing yourself from outside your body or you have a sense that things around you aren't real, or both. Feelings of depersonalization and derealization can be very disturbing and may feel like you're living in a dream."
Some of the things he mentions that give him "that funny feeling" include discount Etsy agitprop (aka communist-themed merchandise) and the Pepsi halftime show.
When Burnham says "20,000 years of this, seven more to go," he's likely referring to the window of time we have to take action against global warming before its effects are irreversible.
In the song "That Funny Feeling," Burnham mentions these two year spans without further explanation, but it seems like he's referencing the "critical window for action to prevent the effects of global warming from becoming irreversible."
"On September 17, the clock began counting down from seven years, 103 days, 15 hours, 40 minutes and seven seconds, displayed in red," the Smithsonian reported. "If greenhouse gas emissions continue at their current rate, then when the clock runs out, the average global temperature will be irreversibly on its way to 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit above pre-industrial levels."
Thought modern humans have been around for much longer than 20,000 years, that's around how long ago people first migrated to North America. So for our own little slice of the world, Burnham's two time spans seem to be referencing the start and end of an era in our civilization.
"The quiet comprehending of the ending of it all," is another of Burnham's lyrics in this song that seems to speak to the idea that civilization is nearing collapse, and also touches on suicidal ideation.
It also seems noteworthy that this is one of the only sketches in "Inside" that fades to black. While the other songs have abrupt endings, or harsh transitions, "That Funny Feeling" simply fades quietly into darkness — perhaps the way Burnham imagines the ending of it all will happen.
Burnham's angry outburst scene takes place in front of the same projected background as his "Comedy" song.
The picturesque view of sun-soaked clouds was featured in "Comedy," during the section of the song when Burnham stood up and decided that the only thing he (or his character in the song) could do was "heal the world with comedy."
Throughout "Inside," there's a huge variety of light and background set-ups used, so it seems unlikely that this particular cloud-scape was just randomly chosen twice.
When we see it again towards the end of the special, it's from a new camera angle. Now Burnham is showing us the clutter of the room, where he's almost claustrophobically surrounded by equipment. He tries to talk into the microphone, giving his audience a one-year update. We're a long way from the days when he filmed "Comedy" — and the contrast shows how fruitless this method of healing has been.
Burnham can't get through his words in the update as he admits he's been working on the special much longer than he'd anticipated. He slaps his leg in frustration, and eventually gives a mirthless laugh before he starts slamming objects around him.
The special is hitting an emotional climax as Burnham shows us both intense anger and then immediately after, a deep and dark sadness.
The song "All Eyes On Me" uses a vocal distortion on Burnham's voice, perhaps signaling that what we're hearing is the manifestation of depression trying to convince us to sink into the comfort of inertia.
Burnham uses vocal tuning often throughout all of his specials. But usually there is one particular voice that acts as a disembodied narrator character, some omniscient force that needles Burnham in the middle of his stand up (like the voice in "Make Happy" that interrupts Burnham's set to call him the f-slur).
The vocal key used in "All Eyes On Me" could be meant to represent depression, an outside force that is rather adept at convincing our minds to simply stay in bed, to not care, and to not try anymore. In the worst case, depression can convince a person to end their life.
"All Eyes On Me" starts right after Burnham's outburst of anger and sadness. The lead-in is Burnham thanking a nonexistent audience for being there with him for the last year. But we weren't. He was alone. And now depression has its grips in him.
The song's melody is oddly soothing, and the lyrics are a sly manifestation of the way depression convinces you to stay in its abyss ("It's almost over, it's just begun. Don't overthink this, look in my eye don't be scared don't be shy come on in the water's fine.")
An existential dread creeps in, but Burnham's depression-voice tells us not to worry and sink into nihilism. The song is like having a religious experience with your own mental disorder.
"You say the ocean's rising, like I give a s---, you say the whole world's ending, honey it already did, you're not gonna slow it, heaven knows you tried," he sings. "Got it? Good. Now get inside."
During "All Eyes On Me," Burnham explains to his "audience" why he quit live comedy, and reveals that he had been ready to return right before the pandemic hit.
He takes a break in the song to talk about how he was having panic attacks on stage while touring the "Make Happy" special, and so he decided to stop doing live shows.
"I didn't perform for five years," he says. "And I spent that time trying to improve myself mentally. And you know what? I did! I got better. I got so much better, in fact, that in January of 2020, I thought 'you know what I should start performing again. I've been hiding from the world and I need to reenter.' And then the funniest thing happened."
By keeping that reveal until the end of the special, Burnham is dropping a hammer on the actual at-home audience, letting us know why his mental health has hit an ATL, as he calls it ("all time low").
In the background of "All Eyes On Me," the camera's timestamp is frozen in place - as if the camera isn't even recording anymore. We're all just in this dark, liminal space together.
There's no more time left to add to the camera's clock. The battery is full, but no numbers are moving. It's just Burnham, his room, the depressive-sound of his song, and us watching as his distorted voice tries to convince us to join him in that darkness.
Partway through the song, the battery icon switches to low and starts blinking in warning — as if death is imminent.
"All Eyes On Me" is also the first time Burnham uses an extended handheld shot in the whole special.
The structured movements of the last hour and half fall away as Burnham snaps at the audience: "Get up. Get up. I'm talking to you, get the f--- up."
He grabs the camera and swings it around in a circle as the song enters another chorus, and a fake audience cheers in the background. It feels like the ending of a show, a climax, but it's not.
Finally Burnham is shown "waking up," ending the section of the special spent in the darkest possible mental space.
The scene cuts to black and we see Burnham waking up in his small pull-out couch bed, bookending the section of the special that started when him going to sleep. He brushes his teeth, eats a bowl of cereal, and begins editing his videos.
It's a quiet, banal scene that many people coming out of a depressive episode might recognize. Finally doing basic care tasks for yourself like eating breakfast and starting work in the morning.
That quiet simplicity doesn't feel like a relief, but it is. It's progress. It's an emergence from the darkness. It's full circle from the start of the special, when Burnham sang about how he's been depressed and decided to try just getting up, sitting down, and going back to work.
At last, Burnham sings his "Goodbye," and manages to go outside - only to feel terrified and vulnerable in the spotlight.
Burnham brings back all the motifs from the earlier songs into his finale, revisiting all the stages of emotion he took us through for the last 90 minutes.
But then, just as Burnham is vowing to always stay inside, and lamenting that he'll be "fully irrelevant and totally broken" in the future, the spotlight turns on him and he's completely naked.
A distorted voice is back again, mocking Burnham as he sits exposed on his fake stage: "Well, well, look who's inside again. Went out to look for a reason to hide again. Well, well, buddy you found it, now come out with your hands up we've got you surrounded."
It's a reprieve of the lyrics Burnham sang earlier in the special when he was reminiscing about being a kid stuck in his room. It's a heartbreaking chiding coming from his own distorted voice, as if he's shaming himself for sinking back into that mental state.
For all the ways Burnham had been desperate to leave the confines of his studio, now that he's able to go back out into the world (and onto a real stage), he's terrified.
He's showing us how terrifying it can be to present something you've made to the world, or to hear laughter from an audience when what you were hoping for was a genuine connection.
But in the end, Burnham watches back what he's made, and smiles ever so slightly. Like he's ready to be outside again. And maybe the rest of us are ready, too.
Burnham watching the end of his special on a projector also brings the poioumenon full circle — the artist has finished their work and is showing you the end of the process it took to create it.
He's the writer, director, editor, and star of this show. Is he content with its content? Relieved to be done? Still terrified of that spotlight? Only he knows.
Read the original article on Insider