There are plenty of comedians who have popular YouTube videos. Only Bo Burnham, however, has translated that sucess into a top-selling comedy album, an appearance in Judd Apatow's Funny People, and a Comedy Central special. Check out his new album, Words Words Words, available now.
Most comedians who have found success on YouTube are constantly in the process of releasing and promoting their videos. You've only released twenty videos, but each has over 6 million views. Was there a conscious strategy there?
It wasn't a conscious "marketing plan" or anything, but I only wanted to release quality stuff. For some people, it's about blogging and constantly checking in for me, I just posted something when I thought I had written something decent.
How involved are you with the YouTube community? Do you think it will continue to be important to you as a comedian?
I'm on YouTube everyday for like four hours, and I spend another hour commenting on my Facebook page. It's really important for me to stay in touch with YouTube, but I also want to be able to do material at my live that people haven't seen before. It's a balance I haven't quite figured out yet.
Your songs are so dense, lyrically and comedically. Which do you create first the jokes or the music?
Depends. For dense raps, I will just toss a joke there every few days for a month and then create the beat. For more melodic songs, I try to start with the music and then write jokes. But I'm such a hack with music. I'm working on it, though. LAY OFF!
What's the average "gestation period" for a song?
Ew. Anywhere from a few days to a few months. Ew.
You haven't had much time for a normal college experience. Do you think that's something you'll ever want or seek out?
Maybe later. It definitely sucks being alone on the road, but it's really fun to be able to perform at colleges and live vicariously through others for a night.
You're constantly touring now do you prefer a live audience to Internet commenters?
Definitely. It's much more satisfying to hear 500 people laugh than to see 20,000 people type "hahaha."
“I’m like Doug’s friend Skeeter whenever I meet her / Because I Skeeter so hard, they be callin’ her Patti Mayonnaise." Where were you when you wrote this lyric? Future generations will want to know.
Haha, I was wandering around my yard, actually.
In terms of work, what's an average day like for you? Is there an "average day?"
Sleep late. Sit at the piano for a bit. Walk around for a bit. Eat. Computer I'm a piece of shit. I just realized that now.
It's interesting to see your "character" develop throughout your YouTube videos. There's a faux arrogance that wasn't there initially. Is that something you worked on, or did it happen organically?
Well, I started by being really awkward and nerdy and that got old and Michael Cera-esque really fast, so I decided to just be a dick. I think it's funny when people act really arrogant when what they're saying is absolute nonsense.
With your musical comedy, you control every aspect of the final product. How does that compare to a more collaborative process like acting?
It's great. I love having to answer to nobody, but it does get a bit lonely. Stand up is so fun because you have no limits but I definitely do miss collaborating with people.
Final question: When can we expect to see Yo Teach! on NBC?
January 35th, 2014.