While comedian/musician Bo Burnham came to fame via YouTube, his talent is much deeper than that might infer. Besides his advanced skills at the piano, he can play with words like few others, and refreshingly, he never panders to his audience, presenting himself as highly self-satisfied young stallion but with an innocent, Charlie Brown-esque underbelly. Spend five minutes listening to his material and he’s undeniably talented, but that doesn’t keep his Steven Wright-meets-George Carlin-meets-Ben Folds-meets-Eminem act from being an acquired taste. You’ve got to have a high tolerance for clever when Burnham starts his act with the joke “My ex-girlfriend had a really weird fetish; she used to like to dress up as herself and then act like a bitch all the time” and then launches into song with the truer-than-true lyrics “My show is a little bit silly, and a little bit pretentious/Like Shakespeare’s Willy, or Noam Chomsky wearing a strap-on.” Think that’s overly showy, and you’ll just puke when you learn he was only 20 at the time of this recording, but if you happen to enjoy the way Burnham turns from erudite to ignorant on a dime, then Words Words Words is the gift that keeps on giving. Things move fast in this act, giving the home listeners a distinct advantage over the audience captured here, who often seem to be laughing five seconds after the fact as they unravel the wordplay. If you still can’t decide if this offensive brainiac is for you, try one of his Shakespearian Sonnets (“And now my belly is yellow/My pole gives cause to storms and earthy quakes/But tis not massive, I am no Othello”), evil haikus (“Even if he is your friend/Never ever call an Asian person”), or hip-hop boasts (“If you’re lucky, I might just bring you home/And I’ll having you going down, like a girl with an extra chromosome”). Hilarious, plus you get the thrill of feeling smug and horrible at the very same time.
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AllMusic Review by David Jeffries