Design Matters with BO BURNHAM & ELSIE FISHER

Published on 2019-01-27
Actress Elsie Fisher and Director Bo Burnham, with Debbie Millman, where she interviewed them at Adobe Max about their film EIGHTH GRADE.
Actress Elsie Fisher and Director Bo Burnham, with Debbie Millman, where she interviewed them at Adobe Max about their film EIGHTH GRADE.

THE ESSAY

Aging.

While most people tend to abhor our personal passage of time, I hold a bit of a fascination with it because it grants objectivity, distance, the breathing room to look at where you’ve been in life, what you’ve been—and moreover, who you’ve been.

Who have you been?

This special live episode of Design Matters with Eighth Grade director Bo Burnham and star Elsie Fisher took place last fall at Adobe Max in Los Angeles. As Burnham told The Atlantic when discussing the film’s origins, “I think eighth grade is a time where your self-awareness is just flicked on like a light. All of a sudden you look at yourself and you’re like, ‘Oh my God, have I been this the whole time?’ And then you’re trying to build a parachute as you’re falling.”

As it likely does with most viewers, the film prompted me to reflect on my own eighth grade experiences … but when I went back to find them, they were fleeting, and mostly composite sensory images of place—the faded paint of school hallways, increasingly skilled levels of art punctuating the walls room after room, grade after grade; the taste of water from the humming gray fountains; the seemingly invincible faux wood of the desktops in the nicer classrooms, and that moment when you’d come across one with a chunk sheared off, revealing it to be plastic, and wonder, What could be so strong in this world to do that?

Pondering Eighth Grade’s focus on social anxiety brought more back, and caused me to ask the sole friend I maintain from those years: Who were we, really?

Given the relatively nerdy and quasi-reclusive adult that I am today, an author, design geek and journalism professor, people in my life might be surprised to learn who I used to be. Because I was decidedly not a model pupil. 

I wasn’t popular, and I wasn’t unpopular (that would come in high school). I was just sort of there. And in the course of being there, I was bored. Perhaps going to the same school from Kindergarten to eighth grade had run its course—or the fact that it was a Catholic school had. My brain was alight with possibilities, futures, but all I could see were the walls around me. Given an inherent problem with authority that I’m long-delayed to decode with a therapist and a general disinterest in whatever my poor educators were trying to affix to my brain, the majority of the school’s faculty was exasperated by my friends and me. (It’s worth noting that, as a teacher today, and an admitted highly hypocritical one, I would have been, too.) 

There were the innocent, troll-ish happenings—on a gardening day for a science class, we planted flowers on a hill in the configuration of a four-letter ‘F’ word, and anxiously awaited spring. On a day set aside for “reflective prayer” and meditative music in a religion class, a friend slipped a Nirvana cassette into the stereo, bringing the teacher to tears. I learned to smoke cigarettes behind Lookout Bowl (a poor decision that would haunt the next couple decades of my life), sought to trade a surplus of said cigarettes for marijuana from an older kid at Hardee’s (turned out to be oregano, or another spice of unknown provenance), made unfortunate fashion choices, like the sporting of wallet chains (which seemed so gratuitously long that had I actually ever dropped my wallet, I’d have had to retrace my steps for several hundred feet), and had my parents called into the principal’s office for an intervention/possible expulsion because, eclipsing my other crimes, I stood accused of huffing the breath freshener Binaca (something I still don’t believe is possible).

For an aspiring delinquent there were, of course, the more serious happenings: Getting ahold of psychiatric pills that would not get one high but would get one deeply in trouble (yet, awesomely, help one with bouts of depression later in life); vandalism (hailing from Kentucky, we had access to terrifyingly powerful “fireworks” advertised as quarter sticks of dynamite, which we purchased from an ice cream store that was later raided by the ATF); disappearing from one’s parents’ house for uncomfortable stretches of time (even though I was often just out playing mini golf); run-ins with police (see: quarter sticks of dynamite); an instance or two of petty theft (candy I could have bought with my allowance); cutting (a more serious matter that does not merit a joke to help me make peace with my past). 

And then there were the constants in my life that arguably saved me from the jails and prisons (or worse) where a handful of my friends would end up: reading and writing, the closest things I had to religious rites; the aforementioned friend consulted for this essay; parents who were perplexed and irate yet wildly patient, who never believed that their son would condescend to huff Binaca.

When I look back on it all now, I recall an innate sense of screaming—of being trapped, not unlike the bugs encased in amber that I was fascinated by as a kid. Perhaps that’s why I avoid looking back. Or maybe it’s an elemental sense of shame, a desire to disown. Or it’s akin to reading someone else’s memoir, and I’m just the type of person who never reads the same book twice. 

But it’s important to remember. And to reach within and seek to decipher. 

All the acting out feels like just that: acting. I had no idea what I was supposed to be doing. So I chose various parts to play, as did the bullies and jocks I would get to know in high school when I moved on from such pursuits to writing and photography clubs and punk bands. Being so claustrophobic in the same tiny rectangle for so long with the same people—all, I should add, of largely the same background and socioeconomic status and ethnicity—would breed an intense curiosity for the rest of the world, which led me to become a journalist, a profession where you’re the master of nothing but an explorer of everything. It also bred an obsession with travel, of escaping, of absorbing. 

Eighth grade. The last strap of the bridle was coming loose. 

The film Eighth Grade captures one character’s experiences in a strange time we all share. And everyone’s experience is marvelously unique, a wonderful or terrifying or brilliant or painful microcosm in which you indeed build your parachute as you fall.

What was yours? If you’re so inclined, please share it with us, short or long, and how it impacted the creative you are today. We’ll be selecting a medley of our favorites for a roundup we’re putting together. 

Enjoy this special episode of Design Matters—and, please, stay away from the Binaca.

Zachary Petit, Design Matters Media Editor-in-Chief  

THE INTERVIEW

Curtis Fox: The interview took place in October 2018, at Adobe MAX in Los Angeles, in front of a live audience, but you won't hear the audience because it was recorded inside of an Airstream trailer. Here's Debbie. 

Debbie Millman: In review of your film, Eighth Grade, Mark Jackson stated this. Middle school is a rite of passage, a pilgrimage, or an odyssey trying to get to the land of coolness, or not. There's the navigating of the desert of loneliness, the sailing of the oceans of embarrassment, the tripping and banging on the chin, on the boulders, of shame. There's the running of all the nightmarish social gauntlets. It might be the most horrible time of life. This is one of the most poignantly accurate descriptions of the multitude of emotions that occur when viewing Bo Burnham's remarkable film. Part of what makes this movie so transcendent is the performance of the actress, Elsie Fisher, as 13 year old Kayla, who is aptly in eighth grade. Bo Burnham and Elsie Fisher are here with me now for a very special live episode of Design Matters, here at the Adobe MAX conference in Los Angeles, California. Welcome, Bo and Elsie. 

Bo Burnham: Thanks for having us.

Elsie Fisher: Thank you.

Bo Burnham: I love that metaphor. I'd love to extend that metaphor further. The Conestoga wagon of one's own body falling to the dysentery of ... I'm just thinking of Oregon Trail now, but I like that! That's very vivid. Beautiful.

Elsie Fisher: Yeah. 

Bo Burnham: Bucolic description. 

Debbie: Well I was just quoting Mark Jackson. I thought that was one of the best reviews that I read. 

Bo Burnham: Yeah. I enjoyed that. I never heard any of that. I love that.

Elsie Fisher: Yeah. I could listen to that for forever. Audiobook it, man.

Bo Burnham: That was awesome. Yeah.

Debbie: Well I want to talk to you both about Eighth Grade, and your experiences of working together, but before we dive into the film, I wanted to ask you each a few questions about your lives pre-Eighth Grade, so from like four to sixth grade. 

Bo Burnham: Okay. Great. Mrs. Vandenbosch was my teacher.

Debbie: Mrs. Van Alst was mine in sixth grade. I remember that.

Bo Burnham: Mrs. what?

Debbie: Mrs. Van Alst. 

Bo Burnham: Oh yeah. 

Debbie: She was very kind to me.

Bo Burnham: You know what's so funny? I always feel like I remember that teachers' names always sound like teachers' names. 

Debbie: Always.

Elsie Fisher: Yeah. Yeah. 

Bo Burnham: I had Mrs. Pennamon. You only meet Mrs. Pennamon when she's your first grade teacher. Right? 

Debbie: Yes. Mrs. Rajinski was my Kindergarten teacher, right?

Bo Burnham: Perfect. Yes. Perfect. 

Elsie Fisher: I had Mrs. Salter.

Bo Burnham: Oh. Well that's kind of Roald Dahl esque, I feel.

Elsie Fisher: That's true. Yeah. Yeah. 

Bo Burnham: It's sort of chaotic neutral. Okay! 

Debbie: So Bo, I want to start with you. You were born in Hamilton, Massachusetts, you were the youngest of three children, your dad owned a construction company, and your mom was a hospice nurse, and I understand you were self described precocious teenager, and you chose to live in your parent's attic.

Bo Burnham: Yeah! Some of the verbs are funny. I don't think I would self describe as precocious. I didn't even choose to live my ... I didn't have much of the choice. The oldest always lived in the attic because that was the better room. 

Debbie: Oh! Okay.

Bo Burnham: As my sister went to college, my brother went up there, and then as my brother went to college, I went up there. My father was a residential contractor, and my mother was nurse throughout my life, and became a hospice nurse later in life, but yeah, that's pretty much right! I don't know why choosing to live in the attic was funny. I think it made Elsie laugh because it just sort of seems like me. 

Elsie Fisher: Yeah!

Bo Burnham: Scurry up into the attic. 

Debbie: Well that's also why I asked it. I was like, okay, that sounds like something Bo would do. Let's find out why!

Bo Burnham: Yes. Yes. 

Debbie: So I know you graduated from Saint John's Preparatory School with honors after being involved in theater and, Elsie you might laugh at this one, too, the campus ministry program. Why a ministry program?

Bo Burnham: It's a Catholic school, so it really was just sort of ... It's more just like the charity wing. I know most schools have just social, where you go, and do good things, and since it was Catholic, it was campus ministry, but there's a wing of Catholicism where ministry is a lot of charity work, but it wasn't- 

Debbie: So no intention of ever going into the ministry?

Bo Burnham: When I was really young, yeah, I did like the idea of going into the ministry because I felt like ... I don't know. It's a place where you thought about things and talked to people, so I liked that a lot, but no. In high school, I wasn't transubstantiating. Is that the word? No, no. Is that right? 

Debbie: I love that you're looking at Elsie for this. I'm glad you're looking at her rather than me.

Bo Burnham: Well what is the ... Yeah, yeah. Transubstantiation is trying to ...

Elsie Fisher: I know five words, and they all consist of like.

Bo Burnham: Yeah!

Debbie: Like is an epidemic, isn't it? Like. Like. 

Bo Burnham: You know, but it makes sense! We're living relativistic times. I don't think people like to directly ... The simile is out of control.

Elsie Fisher: That's fair. Yeah.

Bo Burnham: But yeah, I wasn't changing water to wine, and I think that's the verb of it. That was the point. 

Debbie: In 2006, while you were still in high school, you videotaped yourself performing a self penned song titled, My Whole Family Thinks I'm Gay, and then posted it on YouTube which, at the time, was less than one year old. What provoked you to do this?

Bo Burnham: I was writing songs for ... I was doing theater, and writing it for my theater friends, and just making them laugh, and then I tried to show my brother online, and I decided at 16, I'm gonna do something of such low quality that I can only improve over time, which was a strategic move on my part. But yeah! It was like, I wanted to just show my brother, and maybe other people, but the paradigm of going viral didn't exist. There weren't viral videos. There were like, “Have you seen the one of the lady falling off stomping grapes?” Do you know that one?

Elsie Fisher: Oh yeah! Yeah! Yeah!

Bo Burnham: That's a super classic one where she was stomping grapes and then falls off. 

Elsie Fisher: Yeah!

Bo Burnham: But that's what this stuff was. It was more like America's Funniest Home Videos, which the internet sort of still us. 

Elsie Fisher: It feels like it's reverting back to that now.

Bo Burnham: I know, and that's- 

Elsie Fisher: Because it went through a phase where now everything is going viral, everything has millions of views or whatever, and now the best videos are the ones that have all lowercase titles, and it's like, “man barks like dog.”

Bo Burnham: Yes! Yes! Yes! You're totally right. You know what? And I did lowercase titles back in the day.

Elsie Fisher: Yeah, yeah. I appreciate that. 

Bo Burnham: And it didn't say thing, Bo Burnham song HD. All this stuff. It was just one word.

Elsie Fisher: Yeah. Not click bait. 

Debbie: Actually, I was curious about that because it was sort of undesigned almost intentionally. 

Bo Burnham: Well yeah, but that is the design of it, a little, of just wanting to be able to be expressive in the small places you can be, and one of those is the titles, and just wanting to be a little tasteful with it, but then at a certain point of going like, yeah, you should probably just get people to watch as much as you can, and at a certain point, for a few years, if you didn't put HD in the title, people wouldn't switch it to it. But yeah, I thought they were as designed as I could design them, and that design was very DIY, very homemade, very sort of I made this thing out of Popsicle sticks. I wanted it just to feel like that. 

Debbie: You continued to release what you described as original pubescent musical comedy. Songs and videos-

Bo Burnham: I don't know if I described all these things, but yes! Puberty's not that original.

Debbie: I have this in quotes, so it general means that I found it. 

Bo Burnham: Oh boy. 

Debbie: But that's okay. That's okay.

Bo Burnham: I was probably a different man. I was a boy.

Elsie Fisher: You were a boy man.

Debbie: We can deny it. Actually that's funny because-

Bo Burnham: I will deny most of this.

Debbie: Okay. That's good, and you put them up on YouTube, and according to the Boston Globe ... This is a Boston Globe quote, not a Bo Burnham quote. 

Bo Burnham: Okay.

Debbie: As simultaneously wholesome and disturbing, intimate in a folksy creepy sort of way. You created videos that had an intentional DIY feel almost like voyeurism. A lot of the songs went viral. At one point you were receiving over a million hits a day, and you became one of YouTube's first stars. At that point in your life, what were you imagining your future was going to be after all of this attention?

Bo Burnham: Oh, I don't know, because it didn't really change my life. My actual life stayed the same. I had these crazy numbers going up online, but I don't know. There's a world right now where, if you go viral or something, you're on Ellen, and you're on Instagram, and all these other ... There wasn't that. There was no Twitter. There was no Instagram. So kind of just had my videos. There was no real way to contact me. People were just kind of liking it. I just was hoping at that time to ... I knew I wanted to somehow transfer to doing it on stage. I didn't want to make a career out of making videos. Not because I looked down on it, it was just I liked performing, and I started performing, and when I would perform the songs that were already online live, they would get tepid laughter, and then when I perform songs that no one had ever heard live, people would react for the first time. So then it was like, okay, this is what I want to do. I want to build a show and start writing to perform live. So that's what was really nice, is that having that little built in audience made it so I could go to sell 100 tickets in every city. 

Debbie: You were admitted to New York University Tisch School of the Arts to study experimental theater, but instead deferred your admission for a year to pursue a career in comedy. Did you ever go back?

Bo Burnham: I did not. Oh, I'm supposed to ... I have class right now actually. No. Yeah, no. I never went back.

Debbie: By the time you were 18, you became the youngest comic to have a solo special on Comedy Central. By 19, you had an international tour and won The Comedy Awards panel prize at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. By the time you were 23, you worked with Judd Apatow, Seth Rogen, and Adam Sandler. You recorded three musical comedy albums. Now you're working behind the camera for the first time with a new film titled, Eighth Grade. The film is about a 13 year old girl named Kayla who's in the final year of middle school. From what I understand, the character was inspired by a period in your life, in your early twenties, when you were experiencing panic attacks on stage. How did that experience inform the film?

Bo Burnham: Well it was a very visceral new experience for me that had sort of been, probably, set up by the rest of my life. I mean it wasn't out of completely nowhere, but it certainly was a climax or event, sort of, horizon moment that I didn't think was coming. But yeah, really, the path towards it translating to Eighth Grade, about a middle school girl, was that basically, as I started to experience panic, my way to cope with it was to talk about it on stage, and me talking about it on stage was in the context of what I was doing, which is performing for audiences of, at that point, 1,000 people or so, and I started to do my standup, and thought, “No one is going to relate to this unless they're a C list, D list celebrity comedian that performs for audiences.”

And then I did my shows, and talked about this stuff, and 15 year old girls would come up to me after the show, and say, “I feel exactly like you do. Exactly what you're talking about is what I'm going through,” and I'm going, “What are you talking about? You're not on tour. You're not performing,” and I realized that I had sort of, through talking about performance anxiety, I had sort of unknowingly backed into, I think, a shared generational experience of me and the people younger than me, and it was sort of the realization of my career, which is that the stresses I feel as a sort of, again, D list celebrity have been democratized to an entire generation, and now everyone feels like they're being watched, everyone feels like there's a proper noun version of their self that they have to maintain, and curate, and perform. 

Basically it was like, okay, on stage I've been telling our story through my experience, now let's explore our story through your experience. That was the thing of, if you can see yourself in me, up here, I should be able to see myself in you, in your everyday life. Yeah. 

Debbie: One of the things that you've stated about that experience was that you think that this is a particular time in our culture that makes us all eighth graders, that we've all become eighth graders with that anxiety.

Bo Burnham: Yeah. Yeah. I feel like the moment is just very eighth grade, what's happening right now. Literally kind of bullying and not a high reading level in the culture, it feels like, but also just things are changing. It feels like the culture's maybe going through a little bit of puberty right now, or something. It feels like-

Debbie: The internet is as well, I think. 

Bo Burnham: Yeah. Exactly! Yeah, and the internet, it's a little younger than that, but yeah. The internet's hitting puberty kind of, almost. The internet was sort of fun, and it was this playing with trucks and toys, and now all of a sudden it's becoming self aware the same way a person does, and it's inviting an emotional life into itself the way ... I never really thought of it that way, but I think that's true as well. 

Elsie Fisher: Yeah. Yeah.

Bo Burnham: Yeah, and I just think when I talk about the current moment, I sound 13. When my friends do, they sound 13. When I see my friends on the internet, they're acting 13. So I thought-

Debbie: Our president acts 13!

Bo Burnham: Exactly, at best. So I thought, if I'm gonna make a story about the internet, I should make a story about ... Whenever I write about anyone on the internet, it felt like they were 13, so I was like, I might as well make it about an actual 13 year old because they're the only ones acting their own age.

Debbie: I read that you wanted to make a movie that took an emotional inventory of what today's teenagers are experiencing. How would you describe that experience? 

Bo Burnham: Am I supposed to keep answering? She's probably got better answers than I do.

Debbie: Well you said that social media forces kids not to just live their experience, but to be nostalgic for their experience while they're living it, to watch people watch them, and that's been haunting me.

Bo Burnham: Yeah. That's my experience. I don't really have an arm's length view of kids. I feel like we're all sort of experiencing it, and kids are just experiencing it in a very fresh, different, sort of uncontextualized way because they have no other world to compare it to but, yeah, the feeling is something like that, some sort of deep personalization, weird, meta, floating over yourself, taking inventory of your life, not being in the moment, dissociative. It's something dissociative and strange. 

Debbie: Why a story about a girl?

Bo Burnham: Well there's a lot of answers to it. I related more to the girls now, just because the girls, I think, were engaging more with the questions I was engaging with. These sort of existential questions I think girls are just kind of forced to engage with those questions earlier, and also it being a girl, I didn't have to ... I couldn't project my own experience, so I couldn't bring my past into it, and I didn't want to do that. I wanted it to feel fresh and new. A lot of stories about kids, it feels like it's an adult going, “All right. Let me show you what childhood's like because I remember it, and I figured it out now because I'm an adult.” With it being a girl, I couldn't think that way. I had to be kinda confused about it. I had to feel like she did and not have any authority over it. 

Debbie: Elsie Fisher plays Kayla, who you stated, “Without her playing the role, the movie was dead. It was her or nothing.” You've even stated that the movie shouldn't of been green lit before you found her. How did you find her?

Bo Burnham: I saw a video of her online, getting interviewed about brownies or something, and-

Debbie: Really?

Bo Burnham: Yeah.

Debbie: Brownies the food, or brownies the scout?

Elsie Fisher: The food.

Bo Burnham: Brownies the food.

Elsie Fisher: Yeah. I love baking. I've baked brownies for forever.

Bo Burnham: She bakes girl scouts, and yeah, and she came in, and she was just the only person that understood what the part was, which was a person that people saw as shy, but she wanted to be other than that. Everyone else played shy when they came in. They played shy. She played confident, someone struggling to be confident, rather than someone struggling to be shy. No one wants to be shy.

Elsie Fisher: Yeah.

Bo Burnham: She just understood it in a way that no one else did. Yeah. I think so.

Elsie Fisher: No, I mean that, basically. It's weird to look back on it now from here because I deal with anxiety, so it was very much personal for me, the movie, but I don't know. It's weird to dissect my own, even, audition. 

Bo Burnham: Yeah. You were a kid. You were two years ... Well, what was it now? Almost two years ago.

Elsie Fisher: It would be two years.

Bo Burnham: A year and a half.

Elsie Fisher: I was 13 when I auditioned, so yeah.

Debbie: You were discovered, Elsie, when you were four years old. According to your dad, one night when you went to see him play at a jazz club where he was working, you jumped on stage and started acting. After that, you got an agent and started acting professionally by the time you were five years old.

Bo Burnham: What does that mean though? What do you mean you started acting?

Debbie: Exactly. Thank you. My question, exactly!

Bo Burnham: Is that your question? Is that really what it was?

Elsie Fisher: The story is kinda weird. So my dad is actually a waiter, or he was a waiter at this jazz restaurant, and our friend was a bassist, and he would make-

Bo Burnham: Are you sure you didn't just watch La La Land and you're stealing the plot from La La Land?

Elsie Fisher: Listen man, sometimes fiction-

Debbie: If it works.

Bo Burnham: Yeah, yeah. Whatever. Yeah, but no I want to hear what you think.

Elsie Fisher: Yeah, yeah. Okay, but I don't remember. I was four. But no, I mean our friend was a bassist, and he would make the bass talk to me. 

Bo Burnham: Slappin' da bass. 

Elsie Fisher: Yeah! And I think I was probably talking back to it, and I mean I was a kid.

Bo Burnham: Oh, that's fun.

Elsie Fisher: I was having fun on stage. 

Debbie: Oh, so you were interacting with the bass.

Bo Burnham: So he was going like, “Bom ba dom bom bom!” and you were going like, “Ah wah wah wah!” or something?

Elsie Fisher: Yeah!

Bo Burnham: Wow. No wonder!

Elsie Fisher: Yeah.

Bo Burnham: No wonder you were discovered.

Debbie: So you voiced Agnes in the two Despicable Me films.

Elsie Fisher: Yeah.

Debbie: So how did that come about? How did you get those roles? You weren't even able to read when you got those roles.

Bo Burnham: She still can't read!

Elsie Fisher: Yeah. It's pretty crazy. Bo had to say the lines.

Bo Burnham: Hieroglyphics. 

Debbie: Well actually I have a lot of question about how you managed with the script because I heard you got very little prep time, but tell us about Despicable Me.

Elsie Fisher: No, yeah. With Despicable Me, I was a young kid, and it was literally the first or second role I ever got, and it was one of the first auditions I ever went to, also. 

Debbie: How do you audition for something when you can't read the lines for the part?

Bo Burnham: And without a bass there, too! Without a bassist, I mean [crosstalk 00:19:34]

Elsie Fisher: Yeah!

Debbie: No slapping basses, right? Yeah.

Bo Burnham: Nothing to play off of! Yeah, that's a good question though. How do you? Yeah.

Debbie: Talent. She's got talent. She's got talent.

Elsie Fisher: I do feel like when I recollect these stories, I'm talking about another person. 

Debbie: Why is that?

Elsie Fisher: I mean, I don't remember, and it's not something I ever talk about. I'm more living moment to moment. 

Bo Burnham: Oh yeah, bro! 

Elsie Fisher: Yeah!

Bo Burnham: Four, though, is young! I can't remember four at all!

Elsie Fisher: Right. Yeah. I remember being in the auditions and I would audition with the two other girls. We actually had group auditions. So I would go to auditions and they would have someone playing Edith, and Margo, and then-

Bo Burnham: Were the minions cool?

Elsie Fisher: I actually know how they voice the minions. It's really interesting. 

Bo Burnham: How?

Elsie Fisher: Is this confidential? Am I allowed to say?

Bo Burnham: Oh yeah. Sorry. No, no, no. Yes. It is confidential. 

Debbie: Is it? Is it confidential? 

Elsie Fisher: No. It's like a mix of a ton of languages, and gibberish also. 

Bo Burnham: You asked such a good question. I've never heard these answers, so now I'm bored. I was going to ask you questions.

Debbie: No, this is great. I love it. I love it. Absolutely.

Bo Burnham: I've never heard her answer any of this.

Elsie Fisher: I don't remember how I auditioned for it, but I know when we were recording, there was a producer in the room, and he would say the lines how they wanted me to say them, and I would just repeat it. Actually I think I memorized most of the script now that I'm remembering. He confirm-

Bo Burnham: She has a very good memory.

Elsie Fisher: I have a weird memory.

Bo Burnham: Very good memory.

Debbie: So tell me if you remember this. Is it true that when you were recording Despicable Me, that the directors asked you to sing a song about unicorns, and you made one up on the spot? A song?

Elsie Fisher: Yeah! Yeah!

Debbie: Do you remember it? Can you sing it?

Elsie Fisher: I don't! It's a one time performance. 

Bo Burnham: Is it in the movie?

Elsie Fisher: Yeah!

Bo Burnham: The song you made up?

Elsie Fisher: Yeah! Dude, I had an iTunes single at five.

Bo Burnham: Whoa.

Debbie: I know. 

Elsie Fisher: Wiki wiki! Coming for you singers!

Debbie: OG iTunes. 

Bo Burnham: Yes.

Elsie Fisher: I've lost the ability.

Debbie: You know he's gonna make you sing it though.

Elsie Fisher: No!

Bo Burnham: Oh no. Never. That was enough. The wiki wiki is enough for a lifetime!

Debbie: You finished eighth grade just a few weeks before Eighth Grade started filming.

Elsie Fisher: Yeah.

Debbie: Your actual eighth grade before the film started filming, and you told Jimmy Kimmel that the experience of being in eighth grade, the real one, made you want to drop out of school because it was that bad. Was it really?

Elsie Fisher: Yeah. I mean school's never been great for me, and my school experience has been very weird because I've always been a weird kid, which I can now attribute to what I think was anxiety back then. Yeah. I just didn't know what it was, and I was also five, but I moved to a new school the last year of elementary, and then I went to this middle school. So it was just a lot of change in a quick period of time, and yeah, I mean I was just always a weird kid. I was dealing with stuff, and eighth grade just felt like culmination of that, and I was watching my peers, and they all seemed so teenager-ish, and I still felt like a fifth grader, which was weird. 

Bo Burnham: Oh!

Elsie Fisher: Yeah, no. So I mean, most of my school has sucked, but eighth grade was a big culmination of a lot of things happening, and I wasn't doing any acting stuff for a while, and I missed it, but I had to consider stopping acting because it was taking me out of school all the time, and then I wasn't getting jobs. So it was just a mix of a lot of stuff.

Debbie: Yeah. I can look back on it now and say eighth grade was the worst year of my life. 

Bo Burnham: Was it for you?

Debbie: Yeah. Absolutely. The worst year of my life.

Bo Burnham: Because some people say that, and it wasn't even that bad for me, but some people say it was, but it was the worst one for you?

Debbie: Absolutely the worst. Seventh and eighth grade were horrible, horrible years.

Bo Burnham: What was it about it for you?

Debbie: I was the epitome of uncool. 

Bo Burnham: Yeah.

Debbie: I remember once, hanging out with some of my friends, and we were all the nerdy smart kids, which now I'm really happy about, but then I was mortified.

Bo Burnham: See, you're playing the long game.

Debbie: And I had bad, bad hair, and was trying to do my makeup in ways that would now mortify me anybody were to ever see.

Elsie Fisher: Yeah! I remember when I was in eighth grade, I was so self conscious about my acne because it was worse back then than it is now, and I mean kids would point it out because I live in an affluent area or whatever. All the kids have clear skin. Whatever! But I had this really ... It felt very orange on my face. I went into school looking like Garfield.

Bo Burnham: And they said Garfield was on you?

Elsie Fisher: No! No one told me until after, but people would look at me, and it's like ...

Bo Burnham: You know what though?

Elsie Fisher: I mean, I don't care now. I do like homeschooling now.

Bo Burnham: You can look orange and you can become president!

Debbie: Yeah, that's true. Good point! Although I looked orange, too, but I looked orange because I was trying to use this spray on tan stuff. I went to Florida with my dad, came back, and had used this spray on tan stuff on my skin, and the spray on hair stuff in my hair, and I looked like an alien. I really did. I look back on it now with so much pathos. I thought I looked good, and people asked me why I was orange, and I was just ashamed, and humiliated. 

Elsie Fisher: I'm so done with cringe culture though. I mean it's especially relevant now because, for instance, there's all those kids playing Fortnite. 

Bo Burnham: Explain to the older viewers what cringe culture is.

Elsie Fisher: Cringe culture, in my definition, is when people are enjoying something, and you just think it's lame, but cringe culture is just another name for it, but I'm just so sick of it, because that's something I did with Minecraft. I used to play it, and when I was in eighth grade I thought all the kids that played it were so stupid, and dumb, and you're cringey. 

Bo Burnham: Yeah, yeah. No. I hate that. When everyone's like, “cringe!” and it's like, we're all gonna die. Shut up! But really, it's like, get over yourself.

Debbie: Put it into perspective!

Elsie Fisher: It just makes me think about it now, because we're talking about Eighth Grade, and I felt so cringey about myself for forever, and it's like, also, I didn't know better. Also, I was an eighth grader. 

Debbie: Let's talk about how you managed-

Bo Burnham: See, we're over it. 

Elsie Fisher: We're over it!

Debbie: Well, actually the one thing that I can add, for anybody that's listening, that did experience that as well, or is experiencing it now, I've been out of high school for a very, very long time, many, many decades. Ten years after I graduated, I went to my tenth year high school reunion, and one of the things that I was really struck by was how I felt about the people that had bullied me while I was in school. So I was always the last girl to be chosen for the dodge ball team, and so on, and so forth. There was a woman, an Ellen Williams, who bullied me mercilessly. 

Bo Burnham: Oh my gosh! First and last name!

Debbie: First and last name. Doxxing right now. Her address is ... No, actually I don't know where she lives now, but at the time she had bullied me, and I remember looking at her, and thinking, “What was I so afraid of?” She seemed smaller than I remembered, and I couldn't believe that I'd spent that much time agonizing over people that meant nothing to me anymore. 

Bo Burnham: And then, at that moment, she made eye contact with you, and crushed a Coors Light in her bare hand, and you're like ...

Debbie: And I started weeping, and ran out!

Elsie Fisher: That's why!

Bo Burnham: That's what I was afraid of!

Debbie: That's what she did to my soul!

Bo Burnham: Well the thing is, and Glee sort of popularized this, which I don't love, is the idea of don't worry because the bullies, one day they'll be pumping your gas, and I'm like, well, first of all ...

Elsie Fisher: People don't pump gas in California!

Debbie: Who pumps gas anymore?

Bo Burnham: That's true, but also it's noble to pump gas. It's so mean to be like, “Oh yeah, you're a bully? Well I'm better than you, bully, because you're gonna be poor!” It's like, no, now you're a bully. You know what I mean? We should just know that everyone's got their stuff going on.

Elsie Fisher: For sure.

Bo Burnham: I also knew kids that were lashing out at school because they got lashed out at. They got a lot of stuff at home that they wanted to bring, so it's like everyone's got their stuff, and be open, and listen, and try to be kind to people, and just be patient with each other, because it's like everyone's dealing with-

Elsie Fisher: Their own stuff.

Bo Burnham: In that specific time, in their own way. 

Elsie Fisher: Oh yeah. Especially. 

Debbie: Actually, I think this makes sense to mention this particular comment that I read about your performance, Elsie. The way you played Kayla has been described as, at once very average and incredibly special, and I think that, that could be said for what we-

Bo Burnham: The reviews! I think the reviews sort of go from average to very special.

Debbie: No, but I think it's really interesting to consider that anybody that is experiencing not feeling special, not feeling understood, not feeling seen, being bullied ... These are things that we hold in ourselves. Everyone can be, at the same time, average and incredibly special, but you were able to convey so much in the role of Kayla. There was a sense of wanting, a sense of longing, a sense of shame. You were able to convey all of that at the same time, and I know it's probably a question that would be difficult to answer, but I do want to ask it. How were you able to do that? How are you able to hold so many multitudes in one space?

Elsie Fisher: Yeah! Well I mean, the honest answer is I don't know, but I tried to just treat Kayla like a person, and act as if I was just living in her shoes. I mean I guess that's all acting is but, yeah, I tried to objectify her, but a lot of those emotions I just channeled from how I was feeling. I wanted to be good in the movie. It was so much to me. It meant so much that I got to have that opportunity, and Kayla wants to be cool, and they can correlate in a lot of ways, and I mean, I feel her anxiety. I felt it sometimes on set. I would be anxious, so I was just in character. 

Debbie: I read that Bo only let you read the script once, but then he wouldn't let you read it again because he didn't want you to over prepare, and over read it before you shot it. Was that anxiety producing or did that actually help?

Elsie Fisher: It was anxiety inducing at first, but I got sides every day and, again, that was a little-

Debbie: Sides are the script?

Elsie Fisher: Yeah. Just the script. 

Bo Burnham: Yeah. The little pages for the day.

Elsie Fisher: Yeah. Just for the scenes we were doing.

Bo Burnham: She had six pages a day or something.

Elsie Fisher: Yeah, yeah, and again, that was kind of scary at first. But the way it ended up working out was really good for me because I feel like, if I did have the entire script in my disposal at all times, first of all, I would have the entire thing memorized, but I would also not be able to play Kayla, I think, the way I did. I would overanalyze and be like, “Oh, well if she acts this way in the beginning of the script, then she'll act this way later.”

Bo Burnham: Yes, yes, yes.

Elsie Fisher: And it's like, it's not like we even filmed the movie in order, or it was put in the order necessarily that the script was written. So it worked out really beautiful. 

Bo Burnham: Yeah. It's my job to look after that stuff. You just take it day by day. 

Debbie: The opening scene of the film features Kayla making a video for YouTube, and in that moment we instantly understand who Kayla is. The writing contributes to this, obviously, as well as your portrayal of Kayla, which is just perfection. Bo, I read that this was always the way you envisioned the opening scene of the movie, and that was what you actually wrote first. Can you talk a little bit about how you came up with that scene?

Bo Burnham: Yeah. I mean, my way even into this world was watching vlogs of kids talking about themselves online. I mean, mostly girls because the joke is, which is true, boys talked about Fortnite, girls talked about their souls, and that is just true, and it was the thing that engaged me most about the story, was that watching these videos of these kids in their bedroom speaking to camera, soliloquizing about their own life ten minutes at a time, it was like they existed in such sharp contrast to the teens I had seen portrayed in movies and television, which in the beginning or the end of the movie, they give a monologue that summarizes themselves or the journey they've been on, and it's perfectly articulate, and perfectly performed, and perfectly said, and watching these kids, I was like ... I won't say the movies, but I'm like, oh, they're trying to sound like that character in the movie they've heard. They're trying to sound like Ferris Bueller or whatever, and they can't because they're kids, and they're not professional screenwriters, and they're trying to think in real time, and they're stumbling over their words, and they're backtracking, and they're stuttering. 

These kids, they were showing the truth that writers, we are always trying to deny, which is that our words fail us, our words are pale imitations of the things we have in our head, and the distance between our vision of ourself in our head, and the way we articulate it out of our mouth is vast and disappointing, and-

Elsie Fisher: Yeah. I mean, I would call myself a somewhat articulate teen, and even I'm stumbling this entire thing.

Bo Burnham: It's just never enough! You never can do it the way they do in the movies, and watching these videos of these kids, in real time, trying to articulate themselves and failing was, to me, the ... It was like, this is life! This is such a perfect description of what it means to be alive right now in a world where you have to articulate yourself in this world of archetypes, and just representations of people, and you are your own representation, you are your own articulation, you are your own storyteller. All that stuff, and these videos these kids were doing, it was like, all at once, these videos were public, private, personal, specific, generic, totally a lie, and yet completely honest. I thought if this was a performance in a movie, he would be incredible. 

Then the question that is immediately begged when you're watching these videos is, what is their actual life like? And how is it similar or different than what they're saying it's like? And either one is interesting. The way that it coincides with what they're saying, and the way that it conflicts with what they're saying would be perfect. The movie really was from the videos out, worked from the videos outward to her life. 

Debbie: Elsie, how did you prepare for the role? How did you embody Kayla?

Elsie Fisher: Having panic attacks. No, that's actually not a joke. 

Bo Burnham: She spent a year in eighth grade having panic attacks.

Elsie Fisher: No, I mean there wasn't a lot I could do to prepare because I feel like I was the most prepared I could be when ... I was simultaneously the most prepared and least prepared I could be for the role. 

Bo Burnham: And that is being the most prepared. Kayla's not prepared for her own life. 

Elsie Fisher: Yeah, because again, if I had time or the resources to overanalyze the role, it would be the same.

Debbie: I read that you made Bo change the part of the script where the characters were messaging on Facebook. So why did you make him change that?

Elsie Fisher: Because, I mean, the truth is kids right now are not using Facebook, and the movie should feel current, somewhat. I mean, it's a 2018 movie. 

Bo Burnham: Yeah. It's not Facebook, and I had a feeling, and then Facebook told us they're calling it SOS teen because all the teens are leaving or something.

Debbie: Well, one of my favorite parts of the film is when the kids are all in the mall, and they're talking about Snapchat as a defining moment in their evolution as people. When they went on Snapchat signifies the generation that they belong to.

Bo Burnham: Yeah, yeah.

Debbie: That, to me, was genius. Snapchat is not anywhere as near as popular as it once was. As somebody who is the generation of people that grew up with it, why do you think it isn't as popular anymore?

Elsie Fisher: I don't know. 

Bo Burnham: Is that right? It's just been the last 24 months or something?

Debbie: Yeah. I think Instagram copied a lot of the stories.

Bo Burnham: Right. Right. The stories, where they took away from it. Right. 

Elsie Fisher: Yeah. I think so because Snapchat lives off of such a temporary format.

Bo Burnham: And now there is a temporary format on Instagram.

Elsie Fisher: And now there is a temporary format, and a permanent format on one app, so why would you use Snapchat? I mean yeah, no offense Snapchat, but I don't use Snapchat. I never did though.

Bo Burnham: Offense taken on behalf of Snapchat.

Elsie Fisher: I'm sorry! Yeah, no. I don't know. It is interesting though. 

Debbie: The kids in the movie are on their phones.

Bo Burnham: Shouldn't of went public.

Debbie: Yeah.

Bo Burnham: [inaudible 00:36:19] Sorry!

Debbie: No, not at all. The kids in the film are on their phones nearly constantly, and in eerily relatable scenes Kayla lies awake at night, her face glowing from the light of her phone. The movie also portrays teens presenting different versions of themselves online as you were talking about how you came upon the idea originally, Bo, but I don't know anyone on social media that doesn't do that. It's not just kids.

Bo Burnham: Yeah, yeah. Exactly.

Debbie: It's just this way now that we portray who we want people to think we are, and I'm just wondering, philosophically, do you think we're doomed?

Bo Burnham: Oh sure, but not probably from that. I mean, I don't know. I mean, we are literally doomed.

Debbie: Well, yeah. Obviously we'll fall into the sun at some point in [crosstalk 00:37:06] years, but-

Bo Burnham: But really, and I don't even mean that as necessarily a joke, but yeah, no. I don't think we're doomed necessarily. 

Elsie Fisher: I mean it wouldn't be social media's fault alone, at least. I don't know.

Bo Burnham: Yeah. I think just the culture is sort of, the tail is finally wagging the dog in the way that, of course, it was always going to. I mean we thought culture was this peripheral decorative thing that's sort of ... Culture is the tree, not the fruit anymore, or whatever. I'm stretching way too many metaphors.

Elsie Fisher: No. I understand that though.

Debbie: But it does seem like there's an awful lot of pressure to have an online presence.

Bo Burnham: Yes, and that's not going away.

Debbie: No.

Bo Burnham: Here's the thing. I get told all the time, we're gonna get a generation that unplugs, and it's like, not everything's cyclical. Sometimes cars show up and there are no more horses anymore, and I think that's what's happening, and if you watch a three year old with an iPad, it's like- 

Elsie Fisher: I'm sorry to tell you, there are still horses-

Bo Burnham: What? No!

Elsie Fisher: Yeah. 

Debbie: Yeah, but they usually have carriage behind them, and they're being treated really badly in cities as opposed to farms.

Bo Burnham: Those aren't real. Those are two guys, right?

Debbie: Bo is now making a visual image of being in a costume.

Bo Burnham: Of a pantomimed horse. 

Debbie: Yes.

Bo Burnham: I was being the back half, but yeah. You watch a baby with an iPad and you realize that this stuff is being meant to appeal to us before we're even cognitive, or whatever. 

Debbie: My ten year old nephew has a YouTube channel, and he's making custom Lego. Now I'm super proud of him because he's doing really incredible things with Lego, and he's talking about it all in a way that I could never have when I was that age, but it does really make you think about the performative nature of what we're doing, and how much are we doing for ourselves, and how much are we doing for a reaction?

Bo Burnham: Yes. Yes, and just viewing ... The weird little example I have, which I've had multiple tell me this exact example that my nephews have, which is that there are kids online that have channels of four year olds, five year olds, of Jonathan's toy channel, and it's their dad filming them while they open toys, and play with their toys, and kids watch this stuff. My nephew watches it sometimes, and then one day he was playing with my sister, his mother, and he was like, “Mommy, tell the subscribers about the thing!” and there's no camera there, and she just goes like, “Okay, you can't watch this stuff anymore.” It was like Truman Show esque, weird meta, dissociative things of yourself, of you're not just living your life. Your life is being seen, and is commodity to be seen, and is an image to be seen. It's like, people think of when the camera first showed up, and people were scared of getting your picture taken because they thought it took a piece of your soul. I think that is true. I think that is, in a way, true. 

Elsie Fisher: Yeah.

Debbie: But despite this critique of culture, the movie is not in any way preachy or sanctimonious, and what's really interesting about it is that you are able to strike just the right tone where people are coming from that film, able to make their own assessments of what they believe about the experiences of Kayla and life even when the reality of what we're seeing is rather terrifying. I mean there are some moments in the film where I was really scared about where you might've been going. There's one scene in which Kayla's school has a safety shooter drill. That was frightening and the way in which it's become-

Bo Burnham: Banal. 

Debbie: Yeah. 

Bo Burnham: Yeah.

Debbie: I mean suddenly we're watching the reality of what kids have to experience in this time, which is something my generation and Bo, I'm assuming yours as well, never had to go through. 

Bo Burnham: I had Columbine when I was in fifth grade, so that was big for us. I've had this specter of shootings and bombings at school for a while, but it never got to drills. Drills is a very, very recent thing. 

Debbie: Yeah, and there's also a moment in the film, one of the darkest moments in the film when we're not sure whether or not Kayla's going to be sexually assaulted, and you state this about those scenes, Bo. The hope is to be honest and portray the background noise of the character's life, which is incredibly sexual, and insane, and portray their inner life through that, which is a kid navigating the world where things are exploding, and the country's on fire. Do you think, and this is a question for both of you because I think there's a much different perspective ... Do you think that this is a sustainable way for kids to live now? Do you think that this is just the new normal?

Elsie Fisher: Hopefully not. I mean, I don't think it's healthy or sustainable. I don't know.

Bo Burnham: Was it healthy when we were all going to sock hops and everyone that wasn't white was miserable? I mean, so it's like part of what's happening right now, too, is that the internet has just given visibility to the world. So now we know what's wrong, you know what I mean? There was a world where it's like, make America great again. It's more just like, make America blind and forget again. So I do hope people at least, because it feels like the culture's as bad it's ever gotten.

Debbie: Most cultures feel that way though.

Bo Burnham: But it's visible. It's just as visible as it's ever been, so it's like this sort of underground violence, sexually, explicitly, racially anything. That used to be buried, and no one had access to it, and now we're seeing it! Now there's actual visibility and accountability, so as we're addressing this stuff, I think we should be, of course, appalled but not cynical to believe that we've taken a huge step backward. I think it actually is the product of a step forward in a way. 

Elsie Fisher: Yeah. I mean it is definitely a step forward. To me, the world ... I mean I don't have experience of other generations and living during then, but the world feels very separated right now, and not even separated, but there's just so much. The world has these two polar opposites. You can see all this equality, and people being accepted more, and there's just more forgiveness, and humanity, and that's being broadcast to people, and then there's just, as you said, the insanity, and that's being broadcast to people, too, and that's just-

Bo Burnham: Just more. Just more of everything.

Elsie Fisher: There's just more. Yeah.

Bo Burnham: Of everything. Yeah.

Elsie Fisher: It is a step in the right direction. I think kids right now, how our lives are, and teens, and just people, it is a step in the right direction, but hopefully that isn't the new normal forever. Hopefully we can find a good in between of stuff.

Bo Burnham: Yeah. It's the volume and the bandwidth that terrifies me, not the character of it, and I actually think the character erodes because of the bandwidth, because of the speed, because we're moving at a speed and a volume that we're just not emotionally suited for. We're trying to actualize and streamline our social lives. It makes no sense. We can streamline clean energy. That's great. You want to streamline tech? Fine. You want to streamline how we view ourselves, and how we view our friends, and how we communicate with each other? You can't do that. We're applying a crazy capitalist logic to our social interior, to our souls. I mean it's very weird. 

Oh, it took ten minutes to get to work. Now it takes two minutes because we made this really cool car. Okay, that's fine. That's great. You talked to ten people, ten years ago. Now you can talk to 1,000. Oh wait, wait. No, no. We don't need to streamline that. We don't need to actualize that part of ourselves, I don't think. I don't know. It's weird. I don't really know what it is. 

Elsie Fisher: I don't think anyone does.

Bo Burnham: I think we're more interested in just having the conversation on these terms because, obviously, the problem is the things that we're talking about are the forms of communication themselves, and obviously the forms of communication themselves probably have a vested interest in not hosting a conversation that interrogates their very structure. You know what I mean? So that's the problem, and I don't blame them. I don't think it's because it's evil fat cats, smoking cigars, doing this. It's just, structurally, that's what happens, and especially when long form conversation is probably the way to do it, and these things are ... but that's why podcasts are good, and talking is good. 

Debbie: Well I also am, though I can be very despairing about the state of the world, I am optimistic because of today's youth, who I feel are empowered, and activated, and galvanized in ways that we haven't seen since the civil rights movement.

Bo Burnham: Yeah!

Debbie: That really does give me hope. 

Bo Burnham: It's just like Elsie said, the internet would be so easy to address if it was bad. Just throw your phone into the ocean. It's not! It has given visibility to people that do not have visibility. It has given a lot of incredibly lonely people a community.

Elsie Fisher: I mean, it's the reason why we're here right now. It not only inspired the movie, but it's kind of part of the reason I got discovered for it.

Bo Burnham: And me! My entire career is because of it.

Debbie: I have two final questions left for you both. Elsie, after you finished filming Eighth Grade, you tried out for your high school play, and you didn't get the part. 

Elsie Fisher: Yeah!

Debbie: How is that possible?

Elsie Fisher: I mean, it's a fun joke, and a fun story to tell, but theater takes a really intense set of skills, and after going through a movie where I have to be quiet for 90 minutes, maybe I'm not good at speaking loud to crowds. It is pretty funny though.

Bo Burnham: And also freshmen ... I think it's meant structurally, freshmen aren't supposed to get parts. 

Elsie Fisher: My friend, who's a freshman, got eight parts.

Bo Burnham: Oh boy.

Debbie: We hate her. Okay. 

Bo Burnham: Yes, yes. 

Debbie: While you are appearing in the next Adam's Family movie, I read that you're also considering becoming a scientist or a veterinarian when you get older. 

Elsie Fisher: I think that was more younger Elsie. 

Bo Burnham: I was gonna say, I haven't heard that.

Elsie Fisher: I mean, I'm not not interested in that. I mean, I think science is super cool, and one of my favorite classes in my school right now is Earth Science.

Bo Burnham: Upper mantle, lower mantle, crust.

Elsie Fisher: No, dude. We're in space. It's like everything!

Bo Burnham: Whoa. So, not even Earth. 

Elsie Fisher: Yeah. It's like Earth, Plus Science. 

Bo Burnham: Oh my gosh!

Elsie Fisher: Pretty cool.

Debbie: Pretty cool.

Elsie Fisher: No, I'm more focused in entertainment careers now though because I'm not really smart enough to be a scientist, and I'm not willing to work enough for that. 

Bo Burnham: You could play a scientist on television. 

Elsie Fisher: We'll see.

Bo Burnham: Fisher MD Veterinarian on CBS. 

Elsie Fisher: Yeah, exactly. 

Debbie: And speaking of podcasts, I understand that you like Dungeons and Dragons, and even have a podcast about that.

Elsie Fisher: I do! I play Dungeons and Dragons with my friends, and we record it, and we recently had special person guest, Patton Oswalt, on our podcast, and that was very cool.

Bo Burnham: Was there anyone else cool on it recently?

Elsie Fisher: Your episode's not out yet.

Bo Burnham: Okay.

Debbie: But it's coming up. 

Elsie Fisher: Yeah, like next week.

Debbie: So we can talk about that?

Bo Burnham: I did not know how to play it.

Elsie Fisher: It was fun. We had fun.

Bo Burnham: Yeah. We had fun. 

Elsie Fisher: That's all that matters.

Bo Burnham: Yeah.

Debbie: Bo, I read that you try not to think of your future career, but I'd really love to know, do you enjoy working as a director? Any plans for-

Bo Burnham: I love it. Yeah. I would love to do it again. Yeah. I mean it was the most fulfilling thing I've ever done in my life, for sure. 

Debbie: And will you continue with anymore standup? 

Bo Burnham: I hope so. I hope to get back. I have to want to write stuff, and it's like, right now, I don't feel urgently like I want to get up and talk to everybody. It just feels like it's a time where a lot of people are getting up, and talking, and it was so much more exciting to collaborate with people. Yeah, but maybe. Maybe I'll go back. I've been writing stuff and been enjoying writing it just for my own sake. 

Debbie: Bo Burnham and Elsie Fisher, thank you for bringing the world one of the most best and most powerful films I've seen in a long, long time, and thank you so much for joining me today for this very special live episode of Design Matters, here at Adobe MAX in Los Angeles, California. This is the 14th year I've been doing Design Matters, and I'd like to thank you for listening, and remember, we can talk about making a difference, we can make a difference, or we can do both. I'm Debbie Millman, and I look forward to talking with you again soon. 

SPECIAL THANKS TO DEEDEE GORDON FOR MAKING THIS INTERVIEW POSSIBLE.