Can I Interest You in Bo Burnham Hosting the Oscars All of the Time?

My friend Kyle has been telling me about Bo Burnham for years. “He’s a savant dude — a genius,” he’s told me time and time again. And while I caught some of his Make Happy Netflix special filmed at The Capitol Theatre in Port Chester (a stone’s throw away from where I live), I never seemed to commit myself to watch it all. Zoom by a few years later, and I became a fan of his first film Eighth Grade, a painfully accurate account of social anxiety in your pre-teen years. It was so good, it hurt. Oh, and it wasn’t funny. It was actually a brilliant indie drama. Last year, he stole every damn scene in Promising Young Woman, and probably should’ve earned an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. The fandom was just waiting to happen, and then something funny happened: he released his next Netflix comedy special Inside, which is not a comedy but is so special. It’s groundbreaking and it’s no wonder it picked up five Emmy nominations earlier this week, and I truly hope it wins them all — though the Emmys tend to award talent who have won before. Just ask Ray Walston’s ghost. The Picket Fences actor won like a gazillion of those things when he was alive. Anyway, back. Inside.

Inside is a revelation. It’s the best thing I’ve seen in the pandemic era, and the only thing that perfectly sums up the isolation, fear, sadness, and anxiety over it. But read a review of Inside anywhere on the Internet (welcome!) and it’ll be dissected and praised better than here. I can’t really put it into words. The damn thing is a masterpiece. In the “special,” Burnham, who’s done this before but never on this level, hones in on his struggles with anxiety and depression. Yes, the special gets meta, because Burnham always goes there, but it’s more. Shit, I’m rambling. It’s cool though — no one reads my shit anymore anyway. Let me just say what the grabby headline alludes to: BO BURNHAM SHOULD HOST THE OSCARS.

He tells us in Inside that his anxiety had held him back from performing standup for five years. He has said his Make Happy tour was grueling, leading to actual panic attacks while he was on stage. But in the song “All Eyes on Me,” Inside’s best and an amazing song in of itself, he ironically tells the audience — in this case himself alone in a room — that the time away from the stage had helped. He had taken care of himself “to improve…mentally” and right when he was ready to go back on the road, the pandemic struck. He had been ready to renter the world that he was hiding from (his words) and then, well, you know… the world shut down. I say all this because I’m not sure if Burnham would even mentally be able to host what’s been dubbed one of the most thankless jobs in show biz: hosting the Oscars. Here’s what I know though — the Academy needs a host. The Oscars have gone hostless and it’s been as boring as scrolling through your mom’s Instagram feed. I consider this past year’s telecast just fine even though it was comedy-free albeit Glenn Close doing the butt. I’m not putting that in quotes or linking to an article by the way. Why? Because that sentence out of context sounds so wickedly funny that I hope someone has to Google it. But, I digress.

Burnham’s style of comedy, mixing meta and music with heightened self awareness is just what the awards show as a whole — any awards show — needs. On his Make Happy special, after an hour of pure comedy, he goes into a song that reveals how insecure he is, and how he hates the audience, but needs the audience to love him, and he loves them even though he hates them. He rants on how social media is destroying the world. He rips apart people who find inspiration alone from a Katy Perry song instead of finding it within themselves. Every bit is timed. Every bit planned. A microphone to the butt fart even seems preplanned even though, well, farts can literally come out of nowhere.

The Oscars need a host that can be funny, irreverent, and meta. The Oscars need someone who can call them out on their shit, but in such a way that it’s funny, poignant, strange, and every adjective I’m missing. I don’t expect Burnham to ever consider hosting this. Why? Because obviously I know exactly what he’s thinking and we’re BFFs. No. Hosting the Oscars, like I said, is something that all past hosts complain about. It moves fast. The prep is probably insane. The audience isn’t going to be there for your jokes to land. But, even if all of that is true, Burnham’s brand of comedy would play directly to the camera. It’d be an entertaining ride for the audiences at home, and with ratings continuing to decline, why wouldn’t they take a chance? His fandom is already in the millions and growing like a truck driver’s prepubescent son. He’s not the safe choice. He’s the only choice. OK, he’s not the only choice. Let’s face it — the Oscars will go hostless or bring on Dwayne Johnson or Justin Timberlake for a ratings grab. And that’s fine by the way. Those two would kill it. I just want a savant at the mic with all eyes on him instead. Sock puppet optional.

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Jon Chattman

He once enjoyed a Reuben sandwich with Randy “Macho Man” Savage, has written eight books, hosts his own music series, and is a proud dad. He can’t ride a bike.