Healing the world with comedy could help multi-nominee Bo Burnham set an Emmy record

Few individuals had a month as good as Bo Burnham did in July. Thanks to his acclaimed Netflix special, “Bo Burnham: Inside,” the comedian received six individual Emmy nominations, including best directing for a variety special (pre-record), best writing for a variety special (pre-record), best editing for a variety special (pre-record), and two best music nominations. If Burnham were to win even four of those individual nominations at the Emmy Awards in September, he will tie an Emmy record for most wins by a single person during a ceremony — an honor most recently achieved by “Schitt’s Creek” star and creative force Dan Levy during the 2020 Emmy Awards.

Released right on the cusp of the Emmy Awards deadline in May, “Bo Burnham: Inside” earned broad praise from critics, particularly for how Burnham captured the anxiety of living through the coronavirus pandemic. Shot in one location, “Inside” mixed catchy pop songs with both comedic and dramatic overtones and found Burnham the star of the show on both sides of the camera. He not only appeared in practically every frame of the film, but wrote, edited, shot, directed, and produced the special as well. (Some of the best moments during “Inside” reveal how Burnham staged his elaborate music performances with little more than his laptop, some lighting rigs, and a mobile device.)

Numerous songs from “Bo Burnham: Inside” made an impact online — including, fittingly, a dystopian number called “Welcome to the Internet” — but the only track eligible for Emmy recognition was “Comedy.” Burnham received a nomination for original music and lyrics, which puts him up against another online favorite, “Agatha All Along” from “WandaVision.”

Burnham’s individual windfall puts him in an elite company from an Emmy perspective. Few performers garner such acclaim in a given year. The record for most individual nominations in a single year belongs to Louis C.K. with nine in 2013. That same year, Tina Fey earned seven overall nominations. 

In Emmy Awards history, only three people have won four individual awards: Levy in 2020, “Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” co-creator Amy Sherman-Palladino in 2018, and “Making a Murderer” filmmaker Moira Demos in 2016.

Overall, “Bo Burnham: Inside” scored six Emmy nominations, including best variety special (pre-record).

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