As I’m slowly assembling my apartment, I took some time to connect an HDMI cable from my computer to my TV. It’s not much bigger than my computer screens, but it still feels like a different experience. Less distractions. Anyway, I decided to watch a comedy special I downloaded from Comedy Central’s new online store full of ’em, especially since my cable TV doesn’t work at the moment. I picked out Hannibal Buress’ Animal Furnace. Which, after watching and hearing no memorable jokes about igniting fauna, I realized was simply a pun on his name.
Buress is very funny. The subject matter he chooses is sometimes a well-trodden topic, but he manages to put a personal spin on everything with his subtleties and downplayed hilarious afterthoughts. Specific, surprising choice words become the icing on the cake as he shows his versatility. He manages to complain about the TSA in a way that is original and new with phrases like “bomb juice” on his hands and by questioning the efficacy of wearing glasses, and only glasses, as a terrorist disguise.
He’s often aware of the pettiness of what he’s complaining about. He’s aware when his perspective is way off mark from reality. And that makes so many bits more enjoyable, like his proposed humbleness and appeal of having asymmetric abs. He talks a lot about being in bars or parties, attempting to hook up with women, and travel. He makes even the situations where he is clearly the asshole able to be humorous, like when he insults a police officer and asks his salary, or when he powers through audience laughter in his diatribe about retaliating after being “shot” by a playful finger gun from a child.
His bit about rental cars had me in stitches. He describes using the annoyance of having to pay exorbitant amounts for un-refueled cars as an excuse to use up every other liquid possible in the car. He goes into very explicit detail about the surprise, frivolous benefits of being completely wasteful with car wiper and transmission fluid.
His perspective as a black American is rarely the centerpiece, but generally on the periphery, potentially present for every bullshit jaywalking citation and hesitant hookup. Well, except for a joke about apple juice, strangely. And a review he reads from a hilariously bad and gullible college journalist about his show and the “diversity” it brings.
The one sour spot in the set was when he recounted an experience with a woman who was being very precautious before going home with him. He joked about her saving the address of where they were going and her justifying her caution with rape statistics. He qualifies all this with a characterization of the woman that makes her seem unnecessarily cautious or strange, and saying that 5AM in a bar wasn’t the place to go on a feminist rant.
He prefaces some of this with the point that feminists are okay, but quoting rape statistics offhand was ridiculous. He finishes with a joke that fell completely flat for me, which was: “And how do they even know how many rapes aren’t reported?” …Since I knew the answer to this and have read the studies. Some of it was funny if you could imagine the conflict with a truly paranoid woman. But I was still happy when he moved on from the subject.
The production value was great. The set looks good, the crowd is pleased, and the edits and cuts make sense. Audience shots aren’t tacky and are well-placed. Overall, if you want a funny comedic mind that has new ideas, excellent presentation, and can make even tired topics like airplanes, women, and police annoyances fresh again, Hannibal Buress is an excellent choice. His voice is worth hearing.
Animal Furnace is available here. (1:05, $5)