Published Oct 05, 2015In what he described as the biggest headlining show he's ever done outside of his hometown of Chicago, Hannibal Buress rolled into Toronto and the man did not play. From the second he took the mic, Buress was definitely in his zone — an unstoppable joke slinger who had the room laughing at virtually every single thing he said for two hours.
Even at a festival jammed with memorable sets, Buress closing off JFL42 will go down as one of the most awe-inspiring stand-up displays to ever hit Toronto. He thanked people for checking him out instead of other local options like night two of Taylor Swift at the Rogers Centre or pre-season NHL games on TV.
Within minutes he revealed that his eyeglasses were fake, chucking two pairs into the crowd before admitting that, last year, he had Lasik eye surgery to perfect his vision. He only wore his familiar glasses to make us comfortable.
This led nicely into a discussion about the conspiracy theory that Stevie Wonder really isn't blind, which Buress doesn't buy but does make him think twice about the singer's willingness to accept courtside seats at NBA games. This set up the first sound effect segment of the evening, when Buress revealed that he recently downloaded Wonder's classic LP, Songs in the Key of Life, and was baffled by the slide whistle/kazoo noise in the middle of "Sir Duke."
At 32, he had the poise and experience to talk about transitioning into adulthood (particularly after losing his ID and having to deal with mistrusting servers, unsure if he could legitimately order Bloody Marys after brunch at the airport) and even pondering fatherhood. Though his point that, if you have triplets, it's perfectly acceptable to get rid of the first one ("I'm the type of guy who doesn't grab the newspaper off the top of the stack," he reasoned) so you don't have three of the same baby, suggests he might have a ways to go, nurture-wise. The fact that he claimed this belief was the actual crux of his entire set was hilarious if not disheartening.
He addressed his role in renewing interest in Bill Cosby's alleged criminal behaviour, explaining that the media did him weird in their coverage ("Homeless comedian Hannibal Buress… goes after Cosby") and admitted that, when it comes to dating, he's not a good first fuck ("My dick gotta grow on you like the Yeezus album"). It all seemed breezy and effortless, one story or joke melting into another in gales of laughter.
Accompanied by his warm-up DJ, Buress played clips occasionally to highlight how lame and rudimentary Iggy Azalea's beat for "Fancy" actually is, hammering the point home by repeatedly playing the dumb dumb keyboard hook, as a punch line.
He dug into hip-hop a lot actually, as a fan, but also scrutinizing the absurd number of artists who have opened songs describing their morning wood or, in 2pac's case, launching into "Hit 'Em Up" with the charming, "That's why I fucked your bitch, you fat motherfucker." It was an amazing feat of show'n'tell observational humour culminating in a gibberish-laden, original, vaguely Run the Jewels-esque rap song to close the show (lyric examples: "rappin' rappin' rap rap rap rappin'… Got a chicken dick…").
Yes, Buress was at the top of his game but that doesn't do his next-level set justice. Not even a piece of shit loud fan/benign heckler threw him off, though, after giving him more than fair warning, Buress did throw this clown out before the end of the night. Everyone else was enthralled by the spectacle of Buress steamrolling us.
This was some Chappelle/Seinfeld/Rock/CK level of crowd mastery and confident control that comedians dream of striking even once in their lifetime. Buress made it all seem like no thing. Hannibal Buress is a headliner now. People get ready.