A look inside Bo Burnham’s panicking special “INSIDE”

This story was originally published in the first edition of The Lion’s Tale (October 7th, 2021).

A film completely taped, produced, written, and edited by a single person. How good can it be? Well if Bo Burnham makes it, apparently it’s a cinematic masterpiece. Inside is a musical/comedy special completely made by one person. A satirical comedian and internet sensation, this was the first time Burnham had done a comedy show in this format, where he completely filmed the entire show during the course of over a year of self-isolation. This 3 time Emmy award winner special revealed a new style of pop/synth music, a renewed emphasis on satire, and a deep focus on mental health.

It blurred the lines between satire and real emotion, as Burnham searched for ways to cope with having anxiety when performing in front of people. Throughout the documentary, we are reminded again and again of the fragility of the human mind through the exploration of Burnham’s.

And the fact that this film was released during a time when everyone was quarantining – self-isolated – this special hit harder than it ever could have. It had a depth in the sense that everyone was trapped in a room, so everyone could connect on that level.

Imagine being stuck in one room, all by yourself, and in that time trying to make an entire film all on your own. You’re stuck in this room, not able to do much at all, but still make some of the most recognizable songs on the internet, from commentary on racism, songs about classism and Jeffrey Bezos, to songs reflecting their own mental health.

Bo Burnham has multiple numbers regarding mental health, but in particular, the song “All Eyes on Me” is a direct reference to Burnham’s experience on stage and his anxiety that he feels when he’s on stage.

He divulged before the song that one of the reasons why he left the comedy scene for five years was due to him having panic attacks while performing. In the song, he gives himself false words of reassurance, much like how anyone with anxiety sometimes gets told that everything is fine, nothing will happen to them, they are just overthinking – when in fact, they are not fine and they need help.

Another song regarding mental health, “Look Who’s Inside Again,” emphasizes the way we revert to the things that make us most comfortable, and sometimes revert to a childlike state of mind to shield ourselves from the outside world.

While the song was specific to his experiences, it was written in a way that many people can relate to the song. That might be part of the reason why this sound blew up on TikTok in the trend where you talked about your insecurities. We all have had a point of time in our lives where we just wanted to dig a hole and hide it in, bury our head in the sand, just do anything to escape the outside.

Inside is for anyone who wants to have a good laugh while contemplating the complexities of human emotion, mental health, and our place in the world as it crumbles.