Bo Burnham on Using Gay Slurs and Becoming a Changed Man
Bo Burnham, renowned for his many talents as a comedian, musician, writer, actor, and filmmaker, initially achieved fame through YouTube at the age of 16 in 2006 after his song 'My Whole Family' went viral on the platform.
Maneuvering his popularity, Burnham subsequently introduced his first album of comedy songs, appeared in various comedy TV shows, and had his special. But as a comedian, when he was climbing uphill, he used various apologetic words and even made jokes about different communities, especially about the LGBTQ+ community.
Speaking to Rolling Stone in June 2016, he talked about the same, asserting a comedian needs to keep the audience engaged and laughing for an hour, and while doing that, some might also get offended.
Bo Burnham’s Gay Slurs Made Fans Angry
During the same conversation, Burnham further recalled how fans got angry with him for using the 'f-slur' referring to gay men in his show. He explained that he did not want to get away with him using gay slurs by making an excuse and saying, "Take a joke."
"Like, I understand if you don’t like hearing that word," he added. "But, you know, I have an explanation for it. I don’t even use it; the show literally calls me that. It’s more just, like, what it truly feels like to live online."
He continued to say that he, as a comedian, does such stuff to get reactions from people and make people think about it. Hence, he cannot complain about people disagreeing with him or try to silence them when they are upset.
In addition, Burnham said he would be happy to hear people say "I don’t think that was right," over "This comedian shouldn’t be able to say that."
People Thought His Songs Were ‘Little Homophobic’
The 31-year-old comedian posted his first video, 'My Whole Family' on YouTube, when the platform just started out as a mechanism for sharing home movies or informational videos with families and friends.
Even he had uploaded the video to show to his brother in college, as Burnham wrote the songs narrating how his family thought he was gay. Here is his song's verse:
My whole family thinks I'm gay
I guess it's always been that way
Maybe it's cause of the way I walk
That makes them think that I like...boys
And people were offended with his words even then, too. Speaking on The Off Camera Show in November 2018, he admitted that people "misinterpreted" the song and thought it was homophobic.
The comedian said he had done many things as a 16-year-old that he was not proud of later on, and he thought his mistakes were "offensive" and "not helpful" at all.
"I don't defend my 16-year-old comedy at all," he said during the conversation while adding, "I do not think my intention was homophobic, but what is the implicit comedy of that song if you chase it all the way down? I don't think it's perfectly morally defendable."
But Burnham was also happy that he made those mistakes once in his life because he believed he learned a lot from that experience and it has helped him become a better man and content creator.
This year, his fourth special, Bo Burnham: Inside, was released on Netflix, which received positive critical acclaim and is currently nominated in six categories at the 73rd Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards. He said the special was dedicated to his long-time girlfriend, Lorene Scafaria.