Actor, comedian, and director Bo Burnham is a man of many talents. He can go from creating introspective and incisive comedy specials that challenge the form to directing a moving portrait of growing up only to then star in an Oscar-winning film. His most recent Netflix special, Inside, is perhaps his most courageous and experimental. Set almost entirely inside a single room, Burnham offers existential observations about his own struggles with mental illness and examines the state of the hellscape that is our world while talking with a sock puppet. It is brilliant, strange, and above all else authentic.
It also sees Burnham returning to some of his comedy origins and writing some of his most humorous songs yet, one of which Netflix released today in a standalone clip. Entitled “FaceTime with My Mom (Tonight),” it is definitely worth watching as one of the more silly but no less fantastic parts of a fantastic special. It only gets better when seen alongside the entire special as it is part of a beautiful whole that is undoubtedly his most ambitious piece of work to date.
Ever since he had made the surprise announcement that he would be releasing a special back in April, there was a high degree of anticipation from those who had both admired his prior work and missed his comedic voice. There is also an understanding that Burnham had been through a lot with much of his last special examining his relationship to an audience. The new special continues in that same vein, though while seeing Burnham tackle new struggles with his same sharp eye in the wake of isolation he has felt over the past year.
Amidst all that, it is just honestly nice to see Burnham return to his roots from when he started on YouTube, where he would just play songs in his room. There is both a warm feeling of nostalgia mixed with an unshakeable bittersweet sadness to see clips from the special start to come out. The aforementioned ballad “FaceTime with My Mom (Tonight),” where Burnham discusses how awkward it can be to talk over video chat with one’s mother, is a prime example of this feeling.
With an aspect ratio mimicking the all too familiar format of a FaceTime call, Burnham discusses how his mother will bring the camera far too close to her face, tell him all about Season 6 of The Blacklist, and generally carry on an awkward conversation in a way that many of us, myself included, can attest to having done with our own parents. Yet it ends with Burnham alone in darkness, not cut off from the person he loves. It shows the comedian at his best, navigating a delicate dance of comedy and tragedy in a way only he can.
You can watch the full clip for yourself below, and the entire special itself is now available on Netflix.