Long hailed as the next big thing in comedy, Hannibal Buress had a hugely successful 2014; releasing another hilarious comedy special, “Live From Chicago,” filming new episodes of “The Eric Andre Show” and “Broad City,” as well as finding the time to continue hosting his weekly show Comedy At The Knitting Factory in Brooklyn. Even an extended and characteristically relaxed riff about the visible but often ignored rape charges surrounding Bill Cosby ended up going viral, sparking a million think-pieces about the infamous black crusader that eventually led to his victims coming forward and taking him to court. Indeed, you can really tell Hannibal has hit the big time because he finally made it to Little Rock on his Comedy Camisado Tour.
I can say with certainty that I’ve never seen so many people in the Rev Room at once, the place was so packed and bustling. Folding chairs were set up in most of the open space and late-comers were relegated to standing in the aisles and in front of the bar. Alone on the stage, DJ Tony Trimm was spinning hip-hop to warm up the crowd, as if the room wasn’t already electric enough at the prospect of seeing one of the sharpest minds in comedy. Though Buress made a joke almost immediately about why touring acts don’t often come to Little Rock, judging from the overly-enthusiastic crowd, there is definitely a market here for big-name comedy.
His set didn’t draw very often from “Live From Chicago” but when it did, the details had been changed and the situations extended, which kept the bits fresh. He got comfortable fairly early with the new material and he kept his perfect mix of heady observations and dry wit while discussing and making light of a wide range of topics like racist taxi drivers and steroid use in baseball. Apparently, sports still have a significant effect on the way Buress thinks.
The best part of the show by far, though, is his relationship—bordering on obsession—with hip-hop. Buress pontificates about why rappers feel the need to highlight their morning wood for the listener during a song, among other things. Most of these jokes are told in tandem with DJ Tony Trimm, such as one about cultural phenomena Riff Raff getting paid essentially to stand on a stage, drink a beer, and listen to his own music, before Buress does the same with the instant classic “Pickle Juice” joke.
My absolute favorite also serves as motif of the set. In it, Buress uses a hypothetical house party as the backdrop while a sulking loner wanders into a corner of the living room to play with an errant Casio keyboard, probably for the very first time. The punchline becomes the beat to “Fancy” and how rudimentary it is. Buress explains that it’s something only a dumb person would write, and Trimm plays the song on cue from that point forth whenever Buress wants to drive home the fact that someone is being an idiot.
For someone so smart, Buress definitely makes what he does seem so unassuming. But behind his nonchalant, incredibly chill outward appearance is a mind that can make even the most complex observations seem like common sense. Here’s hoping the next comedy night at the Rev Room walks the line between relaxed and raucous just like this one did.