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Episode 49

You Made It Weird

Bo Burnham

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You Made It Weird #49: Bo Burnham

Bo Burnham (comedy, “boom boom boom boom”) comes by to make it VERY weird and VERY deep and VERY funny about comedy, gender, gender in comedy, life, space, outer space, just… just everything, guys. Please enjoy. Pete sure did. Your turn, weirdos!

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42 comments

  • @1: when they’re talking about how this is all we get, like what, O No! Now I have to go out and Enjoy life! I love Bo, but I think their talking about this from the wrong angle, cos it comes across, to me, almost like a negative thing, just from how they’re talking about it…

  • They touch on what I think is one of the most important parts of the gay marriage debate. It’s ok for people not to like homosexuality, it’s not ok for people to believe that their personal opinions should effect someone else’s legal rights.

  • This is a year late and i’m not even a third of the way through but sweet jesus Bo you are onto so many things here it’s making me so happy and respecting you more but also super riled up so here goes:

    Firstly, biological determinism is a bunch of shit. It is a complete, and utter, bunch of shit. Biological and especially psychological studies that appear to point towards fucking “inherent” gender differences never account for the influence of socialisation (such as a recent study where men and women were shown pairs of coloured rectangles and it was found that women showed a preference for slightly redder colours and men slightly bluer. So the researchers decided that this was linked to women apparently evolving to see red and pick berries while men evolving to check for a “clear sky”, without any examination into the colours we surround children with and tell them it is acceptable to like, or discrimination in women’s and men’s abilities to actually see these colours better instead of just admitting a personal preference).

    Another popular example is a study carried out in 2000 that claimed that baby girls were better at relating to others while baby boys were better at understanding systems and was picked up by the media, yet a thorough examination of all the literature on child developmental psychology starting from 1966, by Elizabeth Spelke showed that this is the only study to produce these results. These things just get picked up because they support a deeply socially ingrained system of belief that most would prefer to see justified than rightly challenged.

    And a term I think Bo would be really interested to know about if he doesn’t know it already (like I said, third of the way through, just so so keen haha) is “hegemonic masculinity”. This concept looks at hierarchies within masculinity, and how men are taught the importance of displaying themselves as masculine to move up this hierarchy.
    This is really important in understanding how homophobia and sexism are maintained and ingrained in our society, as masculinity is set up in opposition with femininity and deemed superior, which maintains stereotypical feminine traits, characteristics, actions, etc as negative and undesirable. It also positions men in the difficult position of having their “success” at conforming with masculinity constantly judged and monitored by other men, which creates a constant fear that liking or having any “feminine” traits will cause you to lose significant status with those around you. This leads to men feeling a need to oppose or violently stamp out other men who are not even necessarily gay but present with feminine characteristics, as if they were to accept these men it would reflect negatively on themselves and threaten their own masculinity, hence homophobia and especially homophobic violence.

    I may not have explained that well at all, and I have a frick load more to say but I will try to stop there haha. In the end I just wanted to say that Bo’s awareness of these issues and active attempts to be openly comfortable with feminine traits ARE important and DO make a difference. So much respect for him :’)

  • I’m a female, I wouldn’t say I’m a lady. I found this very encouraging. I’m taking my first stab at stand-up in October, so thank you for your words.

  • I love that Bo talks about the amazing Tim Minchin in every podcast interview I’ve heard lately. Combining two great comedians and skepticism! It was nice to hear the whole chat about misogyny in comedy as well. Thanks for a good interview!

  • Both Bo and Pete play with representations of masculinity and femininity in their acts, yet they still hold biased views on gender and sexuality in real life. I was glad to hear them struggling with desires to be less biased in their conversation, though, and they’re both hilarious.
    As a scientist and a professor, I am sick of hearing all the “men are like this…women are like this…” crap. It only reinforces stereotypes that have little or no basis in truth. Apparently people can grasp the concept of averages (“on average, women are better at providing emotional support than men”), but they can’t comprehend variability, as in many women suck at providing support, and many men are amazing at it. There are obviously more male comedians, but that’s probably not because of genetic or biological causes. Funny penises make men funnier??? Poor Pete’s head has been filled with a lot of Freudian psycho-babble. Many, many women are hilarious…Pete mentions one such woman in every single episode…
    The technical term for Pete’s brand of sexism is “benevolent sexism” (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111004121314.htm). Putting women on a pedestal sounds sweet, but it limits what we are “allowed” to do and be, and it perpetuates inequality. Sexism comes with perks like free drinks and all the door-opening you can handle, but there’s always a cost.
    My favorite book that touches on gender and sexuality from a scientific perspective is “Sex at Dawn” (http://www.sexatdawn.com/). It is mind-blowingly good and proposes answers to questions you didn’t even know you had, like why women tend to make more noise than men do during sex.

  • BEANS BEANS BEANS BEANS! AHAHAHA.
    What a great ep. I love both of these guys.
    When Bo was talking about the graphicness of some stuff in church… we probably went to church all of once a year when I was a kid, and one of those one times they showed scenes from the Passion of the Christ, man I did not need to see that.

  • What a great show – just a refreshing topic. One of the things I love the most about YMIW is all of the really different sides of people that I get to hear about and the different opinions. People can be so surprising. Nice work, guys!

  • I know that discussion of gender, society, comedy, art, and politics and where they intersect are difficult to listen to sometimes because not everyone has had the time to learn everything and always be 100% prepared to give complete and perfect input on any given topic.

    The difference for me as to whether or not someone is full of it is if they are willfully ignorant and just dismissing a thing as “a joke”, or if they actually put the time in to try to get a handle on it. It sounds very much as though Burnham is questioning and curious, trying to understand, engaging in the learning process, and trying not to exploit anyone for his own benefit. I don’t know how much more you can ask of a human being.

    I do hope he comes back for a part 2!

  • This conversation was so interesting! It’s really refreshing to hear two guys having a debate about sexuality and our perceptions of femininity. Also, you both sound WAY too alike, I had a really hard time following who was who!

  • “Cumphlet”
    Genius :D

    PS As a British person I can solve the calendar/colander mystery for you. We are able to tell them apart due to the cunning trick of pronouncing them differently! :)

  • @Scott — That’s funny — and here I thought Bo actually interrupted Pete back just as much! I was like, “Go Bo! Holdin’s his owns with Pete Holmes!”

  • “It’s a little pathetic. Like, body-wise, that like, our body makes jizz and their’s makes people.” I just love that. Haha.
    I’ve always respected Bo, and for him to come out and say the things he did in this podcast just made me respect him so much more. When he was talking about gay kids, I cried. And the way he sees comedy as almost sexist, is absolutely true.

  • Well i was a bit dissapointed at the constant interuption as Bo was trying to give his take on things by pete. Bo is the younger person looking up to people like pete and hearing him struggle just to put in a word edge wise drove me up the wall. i enjoy pete and respect pete but cmon if your discussing anything with anybody that means there are two people in the convo. I think thats why it was 2 hours long too much yappity yap from pete and not enough from his guest.

    ^ Bastien why are you mad at all. pick on the small things all you want but Bo was making the point of wanting to go from how the genralized population thinks or acts now(in regards to gay people) and turning it on its ear making it just like what it is Another part of life that should be blended into our lives instead of having people act like assholes or awkwardly about the topic. If his approach is making it unknown then the after result could very well be PEOPLE STOP ASKING IF YOUR GAY OR NOT. and if your a gay person who is offended by this then your doing exactley what the rednecks do by denouncing gay people as lesser beings or claiming there is something wrong with them. Bo is smart enough to make his efforts in the middle give them no direct response, no longer feeding the machine of wether you are or not. Cause in the grand scheme of life IT DOESNT FUCKING MATTER. Live Life,Love Life, Live Loving Your Life. no excuses

    Preacher man out

  • Oh, and one more thing:

    How to British people know the difference between a calendar and a colander? You ever think about that? Like, how often does a Londoner, after asking for a calendar, get handed a spaghetti strainer?

    Sorry… didn’t think my last post was weird enough.

  • @Bastien I think Bo’s point was that he no longer wants to feel uncomfortable when people ask if he’s gay — and that he doesn’t want to be embarrassed by whatever affect those people have perceived in him that make them think he might be gay. Whereas he once felt he just had to yell, “I’m not a fucking f——-!” he now feels comfortable enough to say, “Yeah? So? What if I am gay? So what?” Sociologists, comedians are not, but there is SOMETHING noble there, right?

    I admit I’m not a huge fan of comedy designed to make people uncomfortable, but I do think there’s a place for it — just as there’s a place for discomfort in every art form.

    Great ep, Pete!

  • So we learned two things: Bo apparently doesn’t know the differences between the words “feminine”, “effeminate”, and “gay”, and that a good way to “do your part” for the gay community is to not be gay but act “gay” on stage for comedic effect.

  • “It’s a little pathetic body wise how ours makes jizz, and there’s makes… PEOPLE.”

    Love it. Been a fan since he appeared on that Paul Provenza show on Showtime. Seemed like he had the respect of the older comedians.

  • I know that mr. pete or bo won’t end up reading this, but I wanted to let one of them know that what bo was talking about the end of the podcast- the idea that some kid might try to understand the creative process of another person by looking at the evolution of the uploaded performances thing – i do that. I try to read as much as i can, find as many interviews, and listen to podcasts so i can better understand my own creative process and understand how i am similar and what i can change, and youtube is essential to this sort of process. it’s all about making connections, and i learn best from people i admire, so it’s a really unique oppertunity for auto-didactic inspiration

  • I love YouTubers. There’s a great batch of them from like that ~2007ish wave that are crazy thoughtful and fun and now doing cool stuff. Good episode. Loved it.

    You guys passingly touched on something that’s been bothering me and is a general dissatisfaction I have with comics.. wtf is this thing about wanting to fix problems vs. offering a sympathetic ear- it’s a comic cliche, unless I have and continue to live my life with total societal outsiders. I call false premise. Reaction to complaint has nothing to do with gender identity and is probably more the difference between Type A/B or how people learned to deal with problems. If I told my dad I had a problem vs my mom, my mom’s coming back with the solution and a million follow up to resolution questions and my dad’s like oh, yeah, that sucks- do you want a hug and a pizza? And me, my brother and sister are all fixers. Bro’s marrying a hug and a pizza girl. Between family, friends, coworkers, people I volunteer with, strangers… if you drill it down to those two reaction categories, it’s a mixed bag and definitely not related to gender identity.

    Sorry, that’s probably been bothering me for like 20 years of stand up (and pseudo cultural psychology) consumption. It’s never treated as ridiculous or fantastical and it just seems appropriately nonsensical.

    Btw, RE: Playground laughter: I was a gawky, clumbsy, happily gangly smartass in school and I was that kid, lady style, on the playground. So there, that exception exists.

    Ug, revisiting these old gender observations makes them feel more like elderly man/shut-in thoughts. Your gender discussion just in passing dusted off a lot of things I’ve been uncomfortable with in comedy. There were definite, articulated feelings being had.

    Please invite Bo back regularly. That was awesome.