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Comedian Bo Burnham performs for third annual LOL with UAO

YouTube star Bo Burnham performed his comedic songs and told jokes in front of 4,000 students and fans at the Stroh Center on Thursday night.

As one of the youngest musical comedian stars, Burnham performed satirical and politically edgy songs and jokes on issues such as race, gender and sexuality.

“When I first started, I was like a little awkward, pubescent 15-year-old kid saying really dirty and offensive things,” Burnham said in an exclusive interview with The BG News. “I wasn’t sure who was going to watch my videos, but apparently people like them.”

Burnham is a strong believer that the Internet had a lot to do with his success. That, and his decision to go on tour following high school instead of heading to college.

“I don’t know if I would have been discovered, I just have no idea,” Burnham said. “I do think the whole [college process] would have made me a different comic.”

Burnham had originally planned on attending a college in New York the fall after his graduation, hoping to “perform open mics in bars for drunk college students,” but ended up taking a different route to a fast-track career, he said.

“I was pretty bitter at first not having the college experience, but I have no regrets with how everything turned out,” Burnham said.

Burnham performs a different kind of comedy that he believes is more attractive for audiences. He has previously recorded a Comedy Central special, the youngest ever to do so, and released three comedy albums.

“I was really into theater and I always wanted to make a show that was like a production, really exciting and big,” Burnham said. “I just did what I thought was funny.”

His appearance on campus was theatrical, with Burnham interacting with the audience in between his stand-up comedy and performing his best-known online songs.

“I don’t really like preaching comedy too much, like “Yeah man, this is why George Bush screwed up America’ … my views are embedded in my work and I would like to open up [peoples’] minds about what comedy can be,” Burnham said.

Burnham’s appearance on campus followed his victory in a student Facebook poll posted by the University Activities Organization, which also featured several other well-known comedians and performers.

“Bo Burnham was the one everyone wanted to see,” said Cassandra Utt, co-director of LOL with UAO. “His votes were the highest out every candidates on our Facebook and OrcSync poll we had.”

The poll also included comedians Steve-O, Seth Meyers, Nick Cannon and “Whose Line is it Anyways?” co-stars Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood.

Sophomore Jennie Maione said she loved his comedy act and was more than pleased when she heard he was coming.

“When I found out, I YouTubed some more of his videos and fell in love with his work,” Maione said. “I also really enjoyed his opening act, Josh Sneedy, he was really funny.”

Comedian Josh Sneedy was excited to open for Burnham, who Sneedy said gave a great performance.

“Not only was Bo funny, but the crowd was amazing too,” Sneedy told The BG News.

Even though student tickets were free, UAO raised money by selling tickets to the community, allowing a meet-and-greet after the show and a raffle. The money raised will be donated to Broadway Cares, Relay for Life and Dance Marathon, Utt said.

“Luckily, Bo Burnham was within our budget and was able to perform this spring,” she said.

After the performance, Burnham was quick to dispel a rumor on the unusual origins of his videos. Burnham, it was said, had began posting his songs on YouTube to communicate with his military brother who was supposedly stationed in Afghanistan.

Burnham confirmed that it was him all along who started the rumor.

“It is true at one point that I may have said that,” Burnham said. “I don’t know if I said it because I didn’t want people to think I was just trying to get discovered or something, but I don’t know what it was.”

One thing is true: he does have a brother.

However he started his career, Burnham is glad his comedy and music has been able to reach out to a national stage.

“I’m very lucky the stuff I perform is appealing to people,” Burnham said.

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