I Love Hannibal Buress
And I’m not alone. The audience at the rising star’s Turner Hall show on Sunday was crazy with laughter.
With a résumé that boasts staff writing credits at “30 Rock” and “Saturday Night Live,” as well as a well-received stand-up specials and a quickly growing reel of both acting and voiceover work, Hannibal Buress is on his way to becoming a household name. But to judge by the 500-some continually laughing people packed into Turner Hall Sunday night, he will soon get there. The show offered 90-plus minutes of material from one of stand-up’s most unique comics, with stories of drunken exploits, his view of religion, unorthodox sports takes and extensive commentary on everything from restaurant rat policies to rap hype men. It was an unforgettable set, likely to stand as one of the best comedy shows of the year in Milwaukee.
The Chicago native came out and, before the ovation could dissipate, recalled some gigs in Milwaukee early in his career. “Do they still have fish frys everywhere on Friday?” he asked. In response to Milwaukeeans thanking him for coming to town, he deadpanned, “Hey, it’s cool. They paid me to come. I didn’t do it on a whim.”
Distracted by a sign language interpreter gesturing wildly in the front corner of the stage, Buress approached and asked, “Am I crushing with the deaf people?” and “Tell them my voice is smooth as silk,” which made audience members of any hearing ability chuckle. From there, Buress tested the translation abilities of the two interpreters (who took turns handling the duty) and exhausted their limbs with his patented rapid-fire rambling stories.
Tales ranged from lying about being Donald Glover’s publicist in order to get free tickets to see Eddie Griffin in Las Vegas ($90 value) to an abbreviated version of his bomb water joke from his Animal Furnace special to a story about booking a five-person parade in New Orleans for a bachelor party. “I’m so glad I don’t live there,” he said. “If I did, all I would do is drink, gamble and throw parades for myself.”
His material took a turn to a story about hitting on 17 at the blackjack table and a bit about having DayQuil confiscated from him at a strip club—which he punctuated with a lot of air humping. “It’s fun to do,” the gyrating comic offered. “I don’t think it’s what my mom had planned for me when she was holding me as a baby. ‘One day, you’re going to travel the world and hump the air.’”
The entranced audience followed his every bewildering comedic turn, including a lengthy venture into the realm of sports, punctuated by a gleeful diatribe supporting performance enhancing drugs. “I’m flattered when athletes do steroids,” Buress declared. “Thank you for sacrificing your long-term health for my short-term entertainment.”
The remainder of the set saw Buress visiting the topics of religion, the environmental benefits of peeing in one’s own sink, being banned from a Subway in London, and seeing rapper Riff Raff lip-synch a set in Montreal—the last of which led to the DJ playing Buress’ famed “Pickle Juice” joke from his debut comedy album as Buress nodded in agreement to his own recorded bit. After an elaborate but wholly satisfying story about hurting his back because “racism is out of control” and angrily enduring a timeshare presentation in Mexico (somehow related), the up-and-coming comic capped off the night with a gibberish rap song—complete with background ballet dancers—chock full of overt mumbling and lyrics like “put on deodorant” and “got a chicken dick.”
“There’s seems to be a weird mix of excitement and confusion out there,” he said, stopping the song. The same could be said of Buress’ entire set. Frankly, this was one the best stand-up shows I’ve ever seen.