By Jeff Simpson
January 18, 2014
On Saturday night, Chicago native Hannibal Buress came through McGlohon Theater on a stop on his Comedy Camisado Tour. Buress last performed in Charlotte last January at the The Comedy Zone. This time around Buress brought DJ Tony Trim, host Willie Lynch Jr. and opening comedienne Janelle James.
The murmur of alcohol-infused conversation simmered below the mix spun by DJ Tony Trim as the crowd filed in. The lighting dimmed and Willie Lynch Jr. stepped on stage to open the evening. Described by Kevin Hart as “Langston Hughes with a punch line,” St. Louis-based Lynch is the holder of a master’s degree and shook the audience up with a range of material from dating with college debt to teaching, to veganism and lactose intolerance. “Just to warm y’all up.”
Following Lynch was New York comic Janelle James. If Lynch was eloquent in his vulgarity, James was anything but, as she imparted relationship philosophy, the irrational thigh gap theory, and the small differences between New York and Los Angeles (one such difference: James found herself saying “Morning” to people in public in LA). Lynch’s high energy contrasted well to James’ relaxed, deadpan delivery though she lacked no punch, having to remind the crowd at one point to, “Lighten up, they’re just jokes.”
After a brief transition, headliner Hannibal Buress briskly took to the stage, welcoming the crowd while using his forearm to shade his eyes. “People always film. People can’t just go to the show and say, ‘Ayy, it was a great show. You shoulda been there,’” Buress lamented to the crowd, referencing the video that surfaced of Buress’ comments about Bill Cosby during a show in October 2014. “You’re a hero,” “Thank you,” “You’re a sellout!,” Buress muttered, mimicking some of the public response that followed the release of the video at his show. Unnerved, Buress broached the subject making it clear he was a comic, and not a spokesperson for the Illuminati, feminism or the black community. Balling up the mess of a situation, he then gave fans and newcomers a dose of his evolving stand-up performance.
The co-host and cohort of The Eric André Show, Buress’ bolstered stage presence is now accompanied by interactive bits cued by DJ Tony Trim. A self-described huge fan of hip-hop, he tackled the current trend of erection lyrics and the Grammy nominated “Fancy” by Iggy Azalea. Pinning a possible scenario in which Azalea’s number one hit could have been born, Buress depicted a drunk, anti-social person at a party messing around on a keyboard in the corner. The sound byte was forged into a new badabum tsch for moments of faux pas during the remainder of the show. Buress also paid homage to rapper Riff Raff, who is known to vibe out at his own shows and perform few of his lyrics live. Rolling sound bytes of curated jokes like his “Hipster Mustache” bit played through the PA system as Buress sat back and recited in unison only a few key words of each line.
True to his delivery style, the topics of his set were unconnected and imaginative with moments of introspection. Bringing a relentless energy while unadorned by his glasses, having undergone LASIK eye surgery, the comic quipped about the irony of potentially going blind in a quest for perfect vision. Recurring stories of his nieces and nephews were woven in as Buress, a proud uncle, imparted that he’s learned “Children are prostitutes for my nurturing side” in an explanation of his thoughts on children, meaningful relationships and pointless sex.
Buress’ thoughts of living to see old black wealth and the entitled great-great grandchildren of Dr. Dre came in between confessions on his gambling habits and running sports talk. The comedian flexed his sports knowledge, incorporating Kemba Walker, Larry Johnson and the Carolina Panthers’ playoff run. Then he spoke on the internal struggle he faced when his cleaning lady brought her son to work. “Mom, is there another room to hang out in? This room makes me uncomfortable.” “You’re uncomfortable?! I’m uncomfortable. There’s lube, drugs and sex toys that you might find if you go walking around. You’re like seven!”
Pausing to move stage right, Buress spotted the patron in the balcony section who had just violated the no media rules and addressed him directly. “It’s called a fleshlight, sir.” The ever-consummate professional played it off cool, and gave McGlohon Theater a performance to remember. Closing out the evening with his “Top rap single in Norway” Gibberish Rap, the comic-turned-rapper brought out a trio of ballet dancers. DJ Tony Trim ran it from the top four times before deciding the crowd needed an a cappella rendition, so that we could “really hear these lyrics.” It was a performance worthy of a sold out theatre and number one single.