One of the benefits of streaming movies is that I don’t have to rush to write about them. Original releases that go right to streaming aren’t going anywhere like a movie in a theater. I don’t have a two-week window where I need to churn something out. As long as the piece is still somewhat relevant, there’s a freedom when it comes to my writing schedule.
Bo Burnham, the internet comedian turned serious “ar-teest,” recently released a comedy special called “Inside,” which provides an in-depth look at Burnham’s flailing mental state and radicalized politics. I hesitate to classify “Inside” as a comedy special, not only because I’m illogically irritated by the phrase “comedy special,” but also because it’s more drama than comedy. There are definitely some bits that made me laugh, but I don’t know if that necessarily makes it a comedic piece. I also felt anxious, angry, hopeful and validated by “Inside.” The truth is, there’s a swirl of feelings here that are difficult to pinpoint. It’s an existential crisis wrapped up in a Bo Burnham package and sold to you by Netflix.
“Inside” truly is the ultimate piece of quarantine theater. There was a tendency for many to hole themselves up in their homes during the apex of the pandemic, often for good reason. This well-meaning caution, however, spilled into something of a trap. Many became depressed while stuck on the inside because, without the filter of unique human interaction, there was little to keep us and our own literal devices from warping our state of mind. In turn, it seems that in our own individual spirals, the collective good also hit a snag.
I don’t think Burnham has stumbled on any ground-breaking answers, but his witty, conscious questions and observations are incredibly sharp. I think, if nothing else, he did an excellent job at capturing the claustrophobia of the mind that ruptured society during the lockdown. It’s one thing to acknowledge the fact that everyone had to stay inside. It’s a completely different, more insightful thing to point out the toll that claustrophobia took on the inside of our skulls.
Sam Zavada is a copy editor with The Standard-Speaker in Hazleton. He previously served as the news clerk at The Standard-Speaker, working with the obituaries and the community and lifestyle pages. Sam’s work in print dates back to his time at King’s College, where he spent two years as the editor in chief of the school’s newspaper, The Crown. Earlier in his time with The Crown, he worked as a staff writer and the entertainment manager. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.