Though this Netflix special is almost certain to make you laugh, it may also make your lockdown banana bread making look ever so slightly feeble, when compared with this quarantine-created masterpiece…
But then again, not all of us can be as talented as Bo Burnham. Otherwise we’d all be walking around singing about our angst like a warped version of Glee. So, we’ll leave the comedic song writing to Burnham, who created Inside over a year of pandemic induced solitude in his LA home. Though we imagine, after his many years of successes – most recently playing Carrie Mulligan’s Paris Hilton singing boyfriend in Promising Young Woman – his house is slightly larger than the rather dingy attic room this is filmed in. It is from here we watch as Bo’s hair and bear grow increasingly longer, his early optimism turning into cabin fevered frustration as he turns 30, with the pandemic still keeping him cooped up.
This film is essentially a look inside his mind during this time, and is probably one of the most self-aware comedy skits you’ll see – he laughs at himself for being another white man taking up space and talking about himself, mocking himself for being sat at home in his LA house whilst the world turns to chaos around him, then poking fun at us for our constant need for content, even whilst human atrocities are going on outside. This being Bo Burnham, he doesn’t do this by just sitting and delivering jokes to camera, that would be far too simple – his signature songs are joined by social justice sock puppets, and social media themed skits. However, it’s the songs that stand out, here taking the micky out of white women’s Instagrams, Jeff Bezos, sexting and hustle culture.
It’s proper millennial, sometimes bleak, always self-deprecating humour that’s grounded in the quiet exasperation at the state of the world, a common thought for a generation that’s grown up online. So, for people who like their comedy to be easy-going and light, you likely won’t enjoy this, or much of Burnham’s work for that matter. But for those of us who have also been going a bit nuts over the last year, this is the ideal comic relief – smart, entertaining, profound and downright hilarious.
Dominic Maxwell of The Times calls this a “comic masterpiece of the Covid era,” and gives Inside a five-star review. He says it’s “a beyond-timely study in isolation, mental health, paranoia, irritation and frustration that also, crucially, crams a staggering number of good jokes into its 85 minutes.” Another five-star review came from The Guardian’s Brian Logan who agrees this “lockdown creation is astonishing,” adding “this prodigiously talented act has performed an extraordinary feat of construction and production, its restless audio-visual invention drastically expanding lockdown’s dramatic, comic and emotional range.” And Vulture’s Kathryn VanArendonk agrees, saying: “It is an incredible accomplishment, a testament to Burnham’s genius at directing, writing, songwriting, performance.”
First shown June 2021. You can watch the trailer by pressing play on the show image, or by clicking here.