A year ago, Bo Burnham released Inside, his Netflix special filmed entirely in his guest house during the part of the pandemic when people were still banging pots and pans at 7 p.m. It was heralded as a masterpiece by both critics and girls on TikTok who make videos about their ADHD.
Now, Burnham has released more than an hour of outtakes from the project (smartly named The Inside Outtakes), which functions more as Inside 1.5. There are a few bits and songs that didn’t make it into the final product, but most of it is Burnham puttering around, running his hands through his hair, and testing out different camera setups.
If Inside is Burnham’s Apocalypse Now, this is his Hearts of Darkness. Where the first one is a well-crafted, sleek piece of work with a cogent thesis, the outtakes are offer a messy peek behind the curtain of just how much time, effort, and mental stability Burnham spent crafting his opus. The most compelling moments come when a frustrated Burnham sits down to record himself talking about the process of making the special.
“Most days I feel pretty good. You know, it feels like it’s… I’m staying busy and it’s been fun. And then other days like today I just feel like I’m completely spinning my wheels and wasting my time,” he says.
“And I’m just… I’ve now committed myself to never finishing this thingand just being in this room until I fuckin’,” he trails off. “But if you’re watching this, that means I did finish. So that’s really, really good. Or it means that they found my body and that this footage was just sort of with my body.”
Someone has already clipped out all of the “new” songs from The Inside Outtakes and put them all in one video, so you can just watch that if you want. Some of them are fully formed, others just germs of ideas that were scrapped. Some of them aren’t even songs, but parodies of the dumb shit you see on the internet all day (a tutorial for how to make a peanut butter sandwich, an ad for anti-woke jeans). They are all pretty good, but when compiled into one video, you realize that that’s just 15 minutes worth of content, and you’re left with 45 minutes of watching a man descend into a Howard Hughes situation.
What someone should really do is compile all of the bits of Burnham just talking. The ones where a visibly depressed man is just expounding upon what it means to make something. That is what makes this even a little bit worth watching if you’re not a Burnham superfan who just wants to watch him be frustrated in his underwear. When artists talk about how hard a project was, it’s usually Lady Gaga talking unbelievably about the mental toll House of Gucci took on her. When Burnham does it here, you can actually see a man who has been put through the wringer, and you believe him.