Judd Apatow Recalls Bo Burnham Blowing Everyone Away at Age 20

  • In 2011, 20-year-old Bo Burnham appeared on “The Green Room” with Judd Apatow and other comedians.
  • During a TCA event Tuesday, Apatow reflected on the day, saying Burnham “just blew the room away.” 
  • He referred to Burnham’s specials as a “landmark” in stand-up comedy. 

While promoting an upcoming


HBO Max

documentary about the late comedy legend George Carlin, director and producer Judd Apatow reflected on millennial comedian-writer Bo Burnham’s career and how a new generation is approaching the genre.

“Obviously Bo Burnham’s special is one of the great landmarks in stand-up comedy history,” Apatow said during a TCA (Television Critics Association) panel on Tuesday over


Zoom

that was attended by Insider.

During the panel’s Q&A, Insider asked Apatow about the younger generation of comedians coming up now in Carlin’s wake, including Burnham, who named-dropped Carlin in his 2011 song “Art is Dead.” Burnham performed that song (which was part of his first special “Words Words Words”) during a 2011 appearance on Paul Provenza’s Showtime talk show “The Green Room,” which also featured Apatow, Ray Romano, Garry Shandling, and Marc Maron.

Clips from the episode have become popular among Burnham’s fans in the decade since it first aired. Burnham was 20 years old at the time, significantly younger than the powerhouse panelists in the room with him. You can read more about how Burnham’s career exploded in the years that followed, leading up to his 2021 special “Inside,” here.

“Bo just blew the room away with everything he was doing that day,” Apatow recalled of the episode during Tuesday’s TCA panel.

judd apatow

Judd Apatow’s career highlights include things like “Freaks and Geeks,” “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” “Knocked Up,” “Girls,” and many more.

Rich Fury/VF20/Getty Images for Vanity Fair


Burnham’s song “Art is Dead” is a searing reflection on the personality types who grow up “to be a comic or actor,” with Burnham singing about self-obsessed artists. He mentions Carlin during one riff on the title’s chorus, singing, “We’re rolling in dough, while Carlin rolls in his grave.”

Carlin, who died in 2008, is summarized in the description of Apatow’s upcoming documentary as “a cultural chameleon who is remembered as one of the most influential stand-up comics of all time.” Apatow codirected the two-part documentary with Michael Bonfiglio, and it was produced by Carlin’s daughter, Kelly.

Looking more broadly at the younger wave of people in comedy, Apatow says he thinks this generation of comics is “much more personal.”

“There’s a lot of personal storytelling and a lot of the comedians have podcasts, so they go and they tour and they have their set and they also talk for hours and hours on their podcast,” he said. “So there’s a very intimate relationship now between the modern comedian and the audience. It’s very different. I love it. I think that it’s great.”

He continued: “I like knowing people. When I was a kid, I used to interview comedians in high school because I wanted to know more about them. I wanted to know the person they were that led to the stand-up material that they make.”

“George Carlin’s American Dream” will premiere this May on HBO, giving fans see “an intimate window into Carlin’s personal life.”

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