Bo Burnham Tour 2015: Rochester
by Nathan J. Lichtenstein | published Feb. 26th, 2015
All 3,000 seats of the Gordon Field House were packed. The first students to arrive and plant themselves in the front row had been waiting outside in the snow and 20-degree weather for almost two hours. After opening comedian Cody Hustak finished his lackluster set of borderline-offensive one-liners, a robotic voice boomed out over the audience.
"The world is not funny. We are all dying."
The world may not be funny, but Bo Burnham sure as hell is.
It's usually a given that any comedian performing at RIT will have some fun with the interpreters and captionists, and Burnham was no exception. Early on in the performance, he shouted out "antidisestablishmentarianism" only to have it displayed on-screen as "anti-establishment terrorism," much to his and the audience's delight. Throughout his performance, Burnham developed a hilarious rapport with the RIT audience, at one point gaining the trust of an audience member named Joe only to sing about fucking his mother. At another point, he poked fun at how nerdy RIT is, wishing he had 3,000 toilets to swirl our heads in.
Burnham's comedy style combines both music and spoken word. His musical set was a combination of new and old material, ranging in subject matter from the difference between men and women, lowering your expectations if you want to find love and the plight of being a straight white male. Throughout his musical numbers, Burnham showed off impressive skills both on the piano and vocally. Burnham's spoken comedy was all over the place, but funny nonetheless. Unlike his colleague Hustak, Burnham's one-liners were punchy and refreshing. Not a single one of his jokes flopped.
Burnham's act is polished and very well-rehearsed, though his improvisational skills are quite impressive as well. After a very personal bit where he left the stage to wander about the Gordon Field House and speak with students about their majors (and doling out high fives as well as a single hug), he returned to the stage to start a new bit only to be interrupted by a student in the left wing who just had to be heard. Burnham snappily informed him that he was about to start a monologue, mono meaning one person. The audience roared with laughter and the show went on.
The show's finale featured Burnham mixing his own voice live onstage, talk-singing about the "struggles" in his life — namely having the contents of his overstuffed Chipotle burrito spilling out in the wrapping process. Much like a musical concert, Burnham returned to the stage after the finale for an encore and performed an old song titled "I'm Bo Yo." A little part of me wished his encore piece would have been a new song, but hearing a song I was able to sing along with was an equally nice way to punctuate the performance.
All said and done, Burnham provided us with his full personality and talent, and I for one was not disappointed. He was easily both RIT's best fall concert and FreezeFest comedian rolled into one 6-foot-5-inch package that I would pay to see live time and time again.