All 15 seconds of Bo Burnham’s spider song from ‘The Inside Outtakes’ are perfect


About halfway through The Inside Outtakes — an hour-long plunge back into Bo Burnham’s pandemic perspective as chronicled in his hit Netflix special Inside — silence descends.

It’s an unsettled kind of quiet. The camera captures Burnham’s unlit apartment in a series of lingering shots, all shadow and silhouette. No sign of life anywhere. And then, we pause. Squinting into the void, we see what looks like the upper corner of a doorway. And something… something is there? You can’t quite make it out.

But then, all of a sudden… you get this.

Spideeeeerrrrrr, hiding in the corner, super fuckin’ normal,” Burnham sings in a keening wail as a fusillade of synths unleashes an extended aural barrage behind him. It’s the shortest number you’ll find in this collection of cut footage and abandoned or reformulated ideas from Inside. And it’s absolutely perfect.

If you’re not already familiar with Inside, suffice to say it’s a heavy watch. Just and hour-and-a-half of Burnham in his guest house during some of the COVID-19 pandemic’s darkest early days in 2020. Mashable’s Alexis Nedd may have described the special best: “It’s brilliant, the songs are mostly bangers, and it’s laugh-out-loud hilarious. It’s [also] physically painful to watch.”

“Spideeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrrrr, hiding in the corner, super fuckin’ normal!”
Credit: Bo Burnham

The humor, the toe-tapping joyfulness, and the pain are all on full display in Outtakes as well. For the 25 riveting, laborious minutes leading into “Spider,” we see Burnham riffing on the capitalistic bloodlust of Jeff Bezos, the relatable sense of resolute hopelessness some felt at having to vote for Joe Biden, and the relentlessly ignorant meatheadedness of blowhard podcasters, among other lovely-to-think-about topics.

Then the silence, and the darkness, and the spider. A white-hot spotlight on this little, harmless arachnid and its spindly, quivering legs. The song’s 15 short seconds are an entire journey: Burnham spots the little critter “hiding in the corner, super fuckin’ normal.” For all the crushing anxiety of enduring a deadly global pandemic, here trembles this most mundane source of everyday fear, a run-of-the-mill spider.

It’s just sitting there, not hurting anyone and not even really moving. Burnham almost seems to welcome it at first, with the song’s opening lines communicating a “hey there little spider” kind of vibe. But the mood shifts quickly. Burnham barely gets the full line out when he starts singing “I ain’t afraid of no—” because the fear has gripped him.

Now the spider is looking at him, and it’s moving. Not the one we see on camera, mind you. The arachnid itself is just kind of chilling on the ceiling, motionless save for occasional leg twitches. But Burnham’s lyrics paint a different picture. The spider’s looking at him. Then it’s moving. He wants it to stop. Why won’t it stop?!

The last few seconds of the song devolve into cursing and screaming as his bellows shift in tone again, from fear into anger. Enough is enough. No fear anymore. Show yourself, Burnham demands: “You think I’m afraid of you, motherfucker?” The music and sound cut off suddenly here, and we’re left with a shirtless Burnham who’s sitting in quiet contemplation as rays of sunlight shine in through closed window blinds.

‘Spider’ is a beautifully succinct expression of the consideration of pandemic life that Bo Burnham explored in ‘Inside’.

If we think of The Inside Outtakes as a stage performance — and that really is what both it and Inside feel like — then “Spider” is fairly labeled as the intermission. It’s a tonal step away from the conversation that unfolds across the hour of new material. It’s both preceded and followed by periods of silence, first in the darkness and then in the light. And it’s funny. This cacophonous surprise only exists to shine a bright, searing light on the most mundane of everyday fears.

In that sense, it’s a beautifully succinct expression of Inside‘s more extended consideration of pandemic life, the follies and foibles that come with it, and the heightened connection many people formed with their immediately surrounding world as dark thoughts and deadly questions swirled through the spring and summer of 2020.

The spider is a fear that most can recognize and which lots of people share. As we navigated the pandemic-wrought shifts in society and struggled to make sense of the insensible, there was, for me at least, a quiet sort of comfort in facing more familiar terrors: New parent anxiety. Climate change-intensified weather events. Deeply ingrained phobias. Real fears, all of them. But also relatable, comprehensible fears.

As funny and unexpected as it is, “Spider” is an anthemic tribute to all those dark, early days of the pandemic when we tried to reckon with our fears and worries, and re-frame them as old and reliable friends. Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t. And better the spider that sends shivers down your spine than the deadly illness that no one understands yet.

Queue up “Spider.” Play it on repeat. Sing it in tandem with Burnham and scream into the void like no one is watching. Do it because you’re safe here, no one actually is watching. We’re all too busy screaming right along ourselves.

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