The Sexism Behind The Bo Burnham Hype

There is no way to start this article unless it is with an apology. One that women have made time after time after time. An apology for making it all about me. This article will in fact be all about me. But I hope that it is read by many women who identify with the message.

Bo Burnham has once again leapt onto our screens. He has given us a lot to think about in terms of who we are and where we are all headed. Without a doubt, he is an extremely funny man. He is witty and observant, and can portray that to everyone.

Five years ago, I looked at him and I thought that he was everything I wanted to be. Now, with so much familial and therapeutic support, I realize that he is everything that I am.

But nothing I can be.

Because I am a woman.

The fact is, I am an extremely funny woman. I am not only funny, but I make the people around me feel like they are also part of the joke. I am a lawyer. I also supplement my income by being a server. And it is in being a server that the best parts of me come out. I sell my personality like the Only Fans individuals sell their bodies. And it works.

When I uncork a bottle of wine and the person at the table decides it is not for their taste, I don’t just say that it is okay; I will get them another. I look them dead in the eye and tell them that I’m pleased they didn’t like it – because now I can drink it in the restaurant closet by myself. (I don’t… or do I? Who will ever know?)

The other night I got my cash tips handed out to me, and then about two minutes later, the person handing them out was like, “I did it wrong! Hand them all back!” While everyone else scrambled to pull the cash out of their bags, I slouched down in my chair and went, “Too late, I spent it all already!” Of course I hadn’t. It was midnight on a Tuesday and I had not left the restaurant. Everyone laughed.

None of this is particularly funny on text. In real life, it has every single person who hears about it laughing. Witty –or even funny –comments are not limited to me, but they are limited when it comes to the fact that they tend to be made by women. It is the female lawyers who make the comical comments in court. It is the female servers who have a witty answer for everything.

Because the men who know how to be like this, well, they go on and go forth and make careers out of it. We women are limited in our use of wit and comedic skill.

As a lawyer, I work for the government. Every time I bond with a judge because of my personality, it benefits the government. It does not benefit me. As a server, I work in a tip pool system. Every time I have a table screaming with laughter, the ensuing generous tip will go to the other servers on the floor who do not know what it means to be a Bo Burnham.

Bo has something that I have, but he can sell it because he is a man. I want to sell it. Perhaps I could on TikTok or YouTube. But I’m working two jobs. I work every single day, every single week. I prioritize my family and my writing.

There is so much injustice in it. Where–if I were a man–I would be considered to be the next John Mulaney, I am actually considered to be a flirt. Because I make people laugh, my gender defines that as flirty. If I were a man, I would be pushed by people I meet to go and make something of who I am. If I were a man, I would feel comfortable to stand up in front of people and start to make this a thing. As a woman, I instead use it to be one of the highest tip scorers in the entirety of the Chicago West Loop area.

Charming is only as charming as your gender identity.

Bo Burnham has made extraordinary content over the past few years. He has outdone himself this year. But the fact remains that every part of everything he has done highlights that we still do not see men and women as equals. Because no woman could ever have done what he has done.

About the author

Writing makes the dark days brighter. Being a lawyer doesn't.

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