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Known for his self-deprecating demeanor and slanted songs about his upbringing, religion and sexuality, 20-year-old comedy-phenom Bo Burnham exploded into mainstream America with a series of popular YouTube videos while still attending high school. His internet popularity garnered enough interest that Comedy Central offered him a multi-album record contract to peddle his wares to the unsuspecting public. WORDS WORDS WORDS is his third release for Comedy Central Records and also aired on the network as his first one-hour comedy special in October 2010.

Not even old enough to legally drink, Bo
Burnham is selling out at comedy clubs.
Courtesy Photo

The first two tracks on the album, "WORDS WORDS WORDS" and "OH BO" are songs that were cut in the studio and come off sounding like a modern day Ray Stevens coupled with the slick production of a Yes album. The remainder of the record is taken from a live performance in New York City at Caroline’s On Broadway from June 2010.

With only a couple of years of performing under his skinny belt, Burnham manages to navigate through his 50-minute set with ease, as he segues from regular stand-up routines to a fresh new batch of the cute and funny songs which helped catapult him to overnight success. While much of his material lies in the perils of youth culture, Burnham does have some great one-liners that I’m sure even the most seasoned comics are killing themselves for not having come up with sooner. “When I say hey, you say ho. Hey! Ho! And that’s how Hitler rose to power.”

His youthful exuberance and naiveté is something of a marvel. Many great comedians started young while still in their teens, such as Bill Hicks, Eddie Murphy and Dave Chappelle. However what sets Burnham apart from the rest of this hallowed pack is that he didn’t have to pay his dues at comedy club open mics or shitty bar gigs to get where he is. He’s not even old enough to legally drink alcohol for another year, yet he consistently performs and sells out comedy clubs that cater to adults. While most of his friends were settling into their dorm rooms as college freshman, Bo was signing a talent contract with The Gersh Agency while recording his own half-hour special for Comedy Central Presents.

WORDS WORDS WORDS is just the beginning of Bo Burnham’s career as a comedian. We can only hope that he evolves as an individual and performer, while steering clear from the distractions of success that have plagued so many young comics that have come before him. RIP Freddie Prinze*. (Comedy Central Records)