Bo Burnham surprises fans with upcoming Netflix special

After a five-year comedy hiatus, Bo Burnham’s teaser for his new Netflix special, “Inside” picks up where he left off in 2016’s “Make Happy.”


Alex Tran

Bo Burnham concluded his last comedy special, “Make Happy,” in 2016. Burnham will be returning with a brand new special that he filmed alone over the course of the past year. (Staff Photo by Alex Tran)

Caitlin Hsu, Under the Arch Managing Editor

Bo Burnham concluded his last comedy special, 2016’s “Make Happy,” by walking out the door of his dimly lit guest house into a blindingly bright sunlit backyard as a chorus of mellow violin music slowly drew his performance to an end.

This summer, the famed comedian, musician, actor and filmmaker will once again be returning to the comedy scene with a brand new special that he filmed alone, without a crew or audience, over the course of the past year. 

On April 26, Burnham posted the following image of a dark, slightly ajar door to his Instagram:

Fans instantly recognized this as the door he exited out of at the end of “Make Happy” and speculation immediately arose as to what the photo symbolized, especially as Burnham does not often use social media except to promote projects he’s working on. 

Two days after the mysterious door photo, Burnham posted the following announcement to his Twitter:

The 45-second-long video begins the way “Make Happy” ends, with Burnham playing the last few measures of his song “Are You Happy?” on the piano in his dimly lit guest house. However, instead of getting up to leave, he suddenly switches off the light, revealing the dark door from the Instagram post. The next shot reveals a current-day Burnham, with longer hair and a beard, peering out from behind the door. The sliver of sunlight that seeps through the cracked door illuminates his face. At the last second, he makes eye contact with the camera and he smiles. The video then cuts to the words “Bo Burnham” and then, fading in from black, “INSIDE.” 

This will be the first original project of his since he wrote and directed “Eighth Grade” in 2018, and the first comedy project since “Make Happy.” This announcement comes after Burnham played an acclaimed supporting role in the 2020 film “Promising Young Woman.” It has also been rumored that Burnham performed a few never-before-heard comedy songs at the Largo Theater in Los Angeles before the pandemic for a stand-up comedy project.  

Burnham made his start as a pimple-faced, gangly teenager performing original songs on his keyboard on YouTube, in which he jokes about having a small penis and being mistaken as gay by his entire family. At the age of 18, he debuted his first comedy special, “Words Words Words,” on Comedy Central, becoming the youngest comedian in history to do so. He quickly established a niche for himself as a musical comic, performing witty, catchy songs on the piano and guitar and covering topics ranging from religion to sex to Shakespeare. 

During the following years, he developed a more introspective voice, often criticizing the pretentiousness and disingenuity of the arts industry, including his own role within it. Several of his songs like “Art is Dead,” in which he lambasts the egocentrism of artists, and “Repeat Stuff,” which mocks the superficiality of modern pop music, became some of his most well-known works. 

“Inside” will be Burnham’s fourth comedy special. Two of his other specials, “What.” and “Make Happy,” can be found on Netflix. It has not yet been announced whether “Inside” will be another musical comedy show, or if it will take the form of more traditional stand-up comedy, but fans are very excited to see their favorite comedian return to the virtual stage. 

Email Caitlin Hsu at [email protected].