Jim Davies in Nautilus:
In “All Eyes on Me,” a song from his new Netflix special Inside, the musician-comedian Bo Burnham pauses to ask, “You want to hear a funny story?” He tells us that, five years ago, he quit performing live because, while on stage, he’d experience severe panic attacks. He spent that time trying to improve himself mentally instead. “And you know what? I did,” Burnham says. He got better. “So much better, in fact, that in January of 2020, I thought, ‘You know what, I should start performing again.’” He’d been a kind of recluse. It was time to rectify that, he says. “And then, the funniest thing happened…”
Which was, of course, the pandemic. Inside—the whole of which is shot in a single room—is partly a commentary on how lockdowns and life online affected his emotional wellbeing. Interestingly, though, the global health emergency goes unmentioned. Burnham, here and there, only vaguely alludes to it. Yet he’s clear—or at least, the character he plays is clear—that the point of producing Inside was to keep busy, to stave off feelings of depression and thoughts of suicide, a struggle he hardly endured alone. A recent longitudinal study of an international group of participants found that, from April to September 2020 depressive symptoms, as well as suicidal thoughts and behaviors, rose significantly (though acute stress went down).