Movie Review: Bo Burnham – Make Happy

ABO1Back when I attended Pennsylvania State University, Bo Burnham was a random name I stumbled upon while scrolling through local comedy shows. I bought a ticket for the event not knowing what to expect, and was incredibly surprised about how much I laughed at Mr. Burnham’s material. From the absurd style of his farce and performance, to his clear-cut talent as a musician, Bo Burham managed to capture the laughter of everyone in that theater. Later on, after finding success with the what. tour and subsequent Netflix special released, his second performance has finally rolled around on to Netflix in Make Happy. The best news is yet to come, however, as I am happy to report this is Burnham’s best performance to date.

In Make Happy, Bo manages to improve his game from the last comedy special, tenfold, thanks to a plethora of substantially developed jokes and greatly enhanced musical numbers. While Burnham’s last musical routine in what. offered some memorable tracks and jokes written within them, the musical style between each song felt a little too similar. Here in Make Happy, however, there exists many different styles and tunes that all work equally well for providing plenty of laughter. Whether it’s a country song about “pandering to every demographic” to an auto-tune about not being able to fit your hand in a Pringles can, each new track feels well-balanced in its catchy melodies and quirky lyrics.

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What feels like the biggest shock, however, is how much Burnham looks to explore serious issues in this stand up special, such as the pursuit of happiness. For the most part, it feels like a well stitched theme to fit in with all the whimsical moments Burnham’s routine has been known for. In turn, it actually adds to the bizarre nature of it all when one minute Burnham is asking the audience if they believe they’ve found a sense of happiness in their lives, and then the next minute a voice over begins singing about how much of a “pussy” Bo is. The only time this doesn’t absolutely work is toward the finale, where the stand up special doesn’t really end on a joke that punches. The way they do close it is more on a serious tone, and while the way they portrayed said pursuit of happiness in Bo’s life was a nice way to end the program, it did feel a tad bit out-of-place considering how this hour-long program is meant to be a comedy first and foremost.

Nevertheless, Bo Burnham: Make Happy serves as a pinnacle of what a stand up program should be; a comedian making great strides to continuously improve his craft. If you were already a fan of Burnham’s quirky personality before, this stand up special will make you love it even more. If you’ve never even heard the name Bo Burnham before, pop open your Netflix account and get on to watching it immediately. If you’re searching for the cream of the crop in Netflix’s long line of stand up comedians looking to make you laugh, look no further than this oddball style of Bo Burnham and his production of Make Happy.

Rating: 9/10

​Donald Strohman is a Pennsylvania State University film graduate currently residing in Metro Atlanta, Georgia. Before being a part of The Young Folks team, he contributed to GameDeck and the satire website The Black Sheep. He also writes for the game journalism site GameSkinny. When he's not trying to fulfill his life long dream of becoming the "Hash Slinging Slasher", Donald enjoys watching movies, playing video games, and writing; sometimes all at once.