Bo Burnham lists “my favorite comedians,” and releases a confessional video: “Art is Dead”

Some of you may wonder how a 20-year-old stand-up comedian who plays the piano can generate so much coverage. Perhaps it's because he is truly the next-generation comedian. Perhaps Bo Burnham is so plugged into comedy as a so-called "Milennial" that he is paving the way for all of the young comedians to come.

Burnham certainly is a devoted fan of comedy himself. And I don't just say that because he's a loyal reader of The Comic's Comic. I say it also because he's willing to write and record a song such as "Art is Dead," which you can see/hear on his new CD/DVD. The kid already seems to have it figured out. Sort of. Some lyrics NSFW. Roll it!


Also, he's willing to acknowledge that many of his fans are young peers who haven't experienced much live comedy before, so he'd like to do his part to steer them to other comedians. This is what Bo Burnham wrote to his fans yesterday:

hey everybody!

i just started my tour. after my shows, i stick around and meet whoever wants to stick around and meet me – and in doing so, i've noticed something. a lot of the younger people who have come out to my show told me that my show was the first live comedy show they've been to. and while this fact is very flattering – and i really do appreciate how much you (the youngins) support me – i feel obligated to introduce you guys to some other comedians. because so much of what i do is because of my love of stand-up and my oftentimes unhealthy worship (yes, worship) of my favorite comedians. i really wouldn't be where i am now without having been able to look to many of these comedians for inspiration – so i feel like the least i could do is introduce a small portion of the next generation to them.

and if you're a well-versed comedy fan, hopefully there will be a few that you haven't heard of. 

also, i am going to categorize them in ridiculously inaccurate, subjective ways. and i'll include a clip for each.

my heroes.


a real hero of mine. a philosopher, poet, revolutionary, clown – he covered so much ground and, most impressive to me, he evolved so dramatically over his career.


if you only know steve martin as that dude from cheaper by the dozen or the pink panther, i feel very very bad for you. steve martin is a fucking genius. and is, by far, my favorite stand up of all time. he broke every rule comedians thought they had to follow. an absolute comic nihilist. i can't tell you how many times i've cracked up at an airport urinal while listening to "let's get small" for the whateverth time.

one liners.


hopefully most of you know mr. hedberg. a brilliant joke writer.


in my humble opinion, the best joke writer around today. and he's my friend! how cool is that? (shhhh bo, no one gives a shit.) anthony is very dark. very dark. you were warned.

musical comedians.


some of you may have heard me talk about tim before. a brilliant pianist and songwriter – to put it most eloquently, and i honestly believe this – he kind of does what i do except he does it 100 times better than i do it.


it seems that almost every musical comedian just writes funny songs, right? that's what it seems to come down at the end of the day. but bill bailey treats music like a brilliant observational comic treats reality. he deconstructs it and reveals it's inner workings and how it affects and interacts with us. really awesome. watching him made me realize what musical comedy could be (but i couldn't pursue it because bill is a musical genius and i know four chords)


for the love of christ, just watch this man.


so silly, so funny, so sean. i hope you love him as much as i do. i cried on a train from boston to new york because i was laughing so hard listening to this man. i kid not.

wow…categories suck. fuck it. 


again, like steve martin, if you just know this man as allen from the hangover – you must dig into his stand up. strangely enough, in my mind he's the only person who's come close to breaking as many rules as steve martin (we'll leave andy kaufman off this list because calling him a comedian is a bit too narrow minded, maybe).


an absolute wordsmith. such beautifully hilarious word choice. you know when people say "he paints a picture with words" – i hate when people say that. but goddamn it patton oswalt paints pictures with words. DAMN! what other person can come up with a phrase like "twat mist" when describing the air quality of a room that just housed an orgy? so brilliant and so funny.


okay. i have obsessed with this guy for a little over a year. he's dutch. and insane. and i think he's one the most fearless comics i've ever seen. but he's really fucking weird. really weird. not sure many people will like him. that's all good. we'll move on.


where have all the women been? are you sexist, bo?! i think one of the worst things about comedy is the lack of women. and whenever i see a brilliant female stand-up, i realize how masculine and restricted most comedy is – and how the spectrum of it could be doubled if we told little girls that people would like them for being funny, instead of telling them to go to the tanning booth while the boys work on their dick jokes. but guess what? all that gender talk is irrelevant when talking about maria bamford! because i'm not even sure that she's human, let alone female. one of my favorite comics around today. 

okay this note is getting very long. so i will just list a bunch now and you can check them out if you want. so just plug the words "genius" and "brilliant" before all these guys.

Louis CK, Mike Birbiglia, TJ Miller, Tim Vine, Tim Key, Moshe Kasher, Dov Davidoff, Bill Hicks, David O'Doherty,  and Jon Dore. 

Did I forget people? Definitely. I also tried not to list terribly obvious people that I'm sure everyone has heard of already. 

well i really hope some of you guys can find at least one person you really enjoy from this list.

if you like my stuff, them i'm sure you will.

thanks guys!

have a good halloween.


p.s. tell me some people i missed! (the more obscure the better)

Reprinted by permission by Bo Burnham.

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

View all posts by Sean L. McCarthy →

3 thoughts on “Bo Burnham lists “my favorite comedians,” and releases a confessional video: “Art is Dead”

  1. I read somewhere that you were going to delve deeper into writing after working with “what.”, and I think you have to check out david thorne. He’s an internet writer from australia and he hurts me something fierce in the laugh muscles. Oh, and don’t be thrown off by the term ‘internet writer’, it’ll make sense when you see his site, or books, or whatever.

  2. Demitri Martin. I saw a lot Zach Galafianakis
    In your style, but I also see Demitri Martin. And your ability to jump from
    Character to character reminds me of Robin Williams and Martin Short.

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