The things that made me think this week…
Bo Burnham: Inside
Comedy specials are put out relentlessly by Netflix and other streaming platforms these days. Most tend to take the form of conventional stand up routines, but every once in a while something more playful comes along. James Acaster’s superb ‘Repertoire’ series springs to mind, but I can’t think of anything that comes close to the mesmerising heights reached by Bo Burnham’s ‘Inside’.
Written, directed, filmed and edited over the course of the last year by Burnham alone in a guest room of his house, the special is more than just a showcase for his parody songwriting talents, significant as they may be. It’s a provocative look at the impact of expectation and isolation on mental health, the role that comedy has to play in the world and the value of ‘content’ in general in the social age. That it is the work of one man in a tiny room – one that Burnham makes feel huge with his creative use of lighting, projection and prop trickery – is nothing short of breathtaking.
Feel Good Club, Manchester
Opening at the onset of a global pandemic could have been a killing blow for Feel Good Club – as it sadly has been for many small businesses – but it feels as though the opposite it has been the case, with the cafe quickly establishing itself at the heart of the Northern Quarter community.
Calling in for a mid-week breakfast, it was great to finally sit inside the amazing space that the Feel Good team have created: picture a mix of industrial walls, lush greenery, plush cushions and a vibe that’s simultaneously chilled out and creatively stimulating.
Better still was the excellent plant-based menu on offer, which felt genuinely different than the often copy and paste efforts that many cafes default to when it comes to vegan cuisine. I went with the full breakfast and left with no regrets. Can’t wait to see what comes next as the team pushes on with its mission to make people feel good.
Grayson’s Art Club, Manchester Art Gallery
Said breakfast set me up perfectly for a wander around Manchester Art Gallery to check out the Grayson’s Art Club exhibition. A mini phenomenon from the first lockdown, Grayson Perry’s weekly art challenges and subsequent TV show really brought people together, encouraging folk from all backgrounds to express themselves through art.
Two things struck me when walking around the exhibition. First off, the broad spectrum of art on show really emphasised how the infinite forms that art takes can help people express and understand their feelings, tell their stories and celebrate the things that are important to them. And second, it reminded me that you don’t have to be a capital-A artist to share art. The exhibition showcased pieces from a wide range of sources, from professional artists and celebrities with art backgrounds to true outsiders and people giving art a go for the very first time. And the best thing is that the works all sat together beautifully, never once feeling like you were moving from the amateur stuff to the professional art. It is all just art, pure and simple.