Internet celebrity pushes envelope in performance - The Daily Collegian: Arts & Entertainment

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Posted: Thursday, February 5, 2009 12:00 am

After taking a sip from his Red Bull and sitting down at his keyboard, Bo Burnham told his audience, "if you sing along, I'll f---ing kill you."

Burnham, who rose to fame after posting videos of himself performing his songs on YouTube.com two years ago, performed to a crowd of more than 500 students in HUB Alumni Hall Wednesday night.

"I like making things funny," Burnham said. "There isn't a rhyme or reason to what I do, it's just 'hey, let's do this.' "

Burnham said his on-stage persona is a more arrogant, stuck-up version himself. His 45-minute set included several of his songs featured online, as well as new stand-up material from his upcoming Comedy Central Presents special.

"It's been wicked surreal" the Massachusetts native said. "Ever since I was little I wanted my own Comedy Central Presents."

Originally planning to enroll in the experimental theatre program at NYU, Burnham says his college plans are on hold for now. Burnham has been performing at various colleges and comedy clubs across the country, and will be performing at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival in April.

Burnham has also been working on projects beyond his own stand-up routine. He meet Judd Apatow this past summer at the Montreal Just for Laughs festival; and the famed director asked Burnham to work on the script for Apatow's next film.

"It's going to be a movie-musical, a sort-of parody of High School Musical," he said. "I wanted to make it more realistic. High school is an evil place, nothing like the way those movies portray it."

Traveling along with Burnham was his father, Scott Burnham, who suffered more than a few laughs at his expense throughout the course of the show.

"It's all in fun, I love it," the elder Burnham said. "His mother or I travel with him to about half of his shows and we always have fun."

Members of the Student Programming Association (SPA) were surprised at the show's turnout.

Ankit Patel (junior-biotechnology), SPA logistics chair, said he was shocked at the turnout.

"When I arrived at 7, the line went from the door of Alumni Hall all the way to Heritage Hall," he said.

Stephanie Sottung (junior-journalism), SPA director of events, said she had never heard of Burnham until another SPA member suggested bringing him to campus.

"I was shocked at the turnout, but equally excited about the event's success," she said.

After the show, Burnham took time to talk to every fan willing to wait in line.

"All the insults are just part of the act," he said. "It's all in fun."

Eleanor Graham (freshman-biology) said she understood where Burnham was coming from.

"Some of the stuff might be seen as offensive, but it's all in the interest of humor."

Amy Kurtek (senior-kinesiology) said she has been watching his videos since he first posted them and always looks for new posts.

Several of Burnham's songs can be viewed at his Web site boburnham.com.

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