"People quietly sang along to their favorite songs and laughed with their friends, even putting their hands up when Burnham commanded it in 'All Eyes on Me,'" Katie Mears says of attending a screening of Burnham's pandemic Netflix special. "And it’s not just that the audience shifted attention to the happier moments — it also lightened the load of the darker ones. It’s almost as if there was strength in numbers, and the crowd allowed for a diffusion of the show’s tension. Throughout Inside, Burnham attempts to gauge the audience’s response, which is a tool comedians relied on pre-pandemic. The entire song 'Don’t Wanna Know' shows Burnham trying to take the audience’s temperature with lines like 'Are you finding it boring?' and 'Do I have your attention?' But unlike live stand-up, Burnham couldn’t adjust and refine his act based on audience reaction; it’s one-way communication. For better or worse, Inside doesn’t do away with the rough edges another stand-up act might have smoothed out prior to a special taping. In the theater, the sudden jump cuts and the stark tonal contrasts that I found jarring at home were now the biggest laughs of the night. Seeing Inside in a theater also has a formalizing effect on the special. In the theater, Burnham is no longer in our space, which allows the line between performer and audience to be more clear. The theater showcases the artifice of the special and reminds the audience how manufactured it all is, which is especially needed with an artist who invites parasocial concern as strongly as Burnham. It also blows up the behind-the-scenes elements that are woven throughout the show, like the changing aspect ratios, Fight Club–style subliminal pop-ups, background whiteboards in 'Comedy,' and Burnham inviting the audience to pause between songs and watch him go through takes or reset a shot. It’s a reminder that it’s a comedy special made by someone who worked on it through various iterations and multiple takes, with immense technical skill and a deft editing touch. At home, these moments felt as if I were in captivity alongside Burnham, but in a theater setting, they are opportunities to consider the process and remember the performative aspect of Burnham’s work."