Editor’s Note: This article contains explicit content.
I honestly ordered my ticket to see comedian Hannibal Buress out of pure curiosity.
It was homecoming weekend and posters were practically in every corner of campus.
The posters simply read “Comedy Show featuring Hannibal Buress,” with event details and a cartoonish art clip of a distinct set of eyes wearing thick black reading glasses.
As any curious and uneducated bystander would, I googled the name. I recognized the familiar face immediately from various videos and Vines on both Tumblr and Twitter. Of what I did recollect, this man was supposed to be pretty funny.
The standing line that wrapped around Cole Field House that night was unusually long, which I was hoping meant that I was in for a good show.
Let me provide a disclaimer about my views toward stand-up comedy: I’m not the biggest fan.
For whatever reason, there is something undoubtedly awkward and paradoxical about a comedian’s open mission to make me laugh; but I tried to ignore this.
The opening act was comedian Kevin Barnett.
Barnett told a few jokes that quickly slipped my mind as I concentrated on trying to find the humor in the joke and observing the looks of those around me.
The audience was calm and chuckled frequently, and I tried to do the same but quite frankly, I was bored.
The first joke that really caught my attention was when Barnett explained how he just wanted to be a character for Halloween without the prefix “black” in front of it, like the “black wolverine,” so he always ended up dressing as “Blade” instead.
I found myself laughing at this joke, but it almost felt forced. Jokes that involve being the “token black” are always inevitably comical because they’re usually too accurate; however, I realized my laughing response was more out of pity, than humor.
Ok, I’m black and I can relate to this black joke.
Even though the case was different for much of the audience, apparently it didn’t matter because most of them found it pretty funny too.
Barnett gets his first high five of the night from the audience.
At this point, it’s evident that his confidence is beginning to build on stage as he reacts to the hundreds of students and alumni in the crowd, who are eagerly awaiting more jokes. Of course, all good comedians know how to ignite a spark.
Barnett went on to tell another joke that a college audience would find funny.
He recalled the time he took his girl to a Weeknd concert.
He described watching her cry in the front row while her “nipples got as sharp as swords” during the performance, and how painful it was for him to watch.
I can’t lie this joke was hilarious to me.
Aside from loving The Weeknd, I could totally imagine Barnett’s jealousy and weakness watching his girlfriend literally “thirst” over this performer.
There is something remarkably humorous about a man admitting his jealousy toward his woman in a joking fashion, perhaps because it’s so rare outside of comedy.
The crowd reacted similarly, with laughter that expressed the notion that “we can definitely relate,” as so many of us have experienced that concert high and hilarious (yet, not so hilarious at times) situation.
An impromptu response to an audience member’s gay joke appeared to please the audience.
Barnett’s response was, “Your whole school hates you now,” and “I hope whatever career you pursue doesn’t work out.”
The response was succinct and perfect.
Laughter quickly turned into cheering that reflected the proud LGBTQA+ friendly campus and student population at this university. I felt the energy and communal nature of the audience when we clapped and expressed our approval.
The comment was funny because it was an immediate, sarcastic backlash on homophobia.
Once again, was I smiling out of humor, or in agreement of a larger issue?
Whatever it was, this unplanned remark was definitely the highlight of Barnett’s performance.
Ironically, the jokes and skits that received the most positive reaction that night were those that insulted students at this university, and college students in general. Again, the humor in these jokes were often all too real.
Hannibal Buress later arrived on stage, wearing the same black glasses from the animated posters around campus.
He explained he wore them to make the audience feel “comfortable,” which I found hysterical, being that he acknowledged the audience’s unfamiliarity with his name and work.
I had fuzzily characterized him a certain way with glasses and a funny facial expression, based on what little I knew.
He knew this.
This immediately put the audience on his side, and literally made them feel “comfortable.”
Buress was then quick to make fun of the university’s football team and their performance this weekend against Wisconsin.
He joked that, “You’re gonna get your ass whooped on Saturday … you’re gonna get whacked!”
Buress’ comment was met with unsure chuckles before the crowd unanimously decided that his joke was hilarious. We all know our football record isn’t so hot right now, but we can all joke about it because basketball season is around the corner.
Buress also poked fun at some of the common practices of fraternities and pledging.
Comments about “beating the shit out of pledges so that we can become better friends,” with “also a little bit of community service” had the crowd laughing.
Well, most of the crowd at least.
This particularly had me “crying” because it’s a shared perspective that I, as well as many others probably have of many Greek organizations: A topic that deserves more discussion.
I realized that Buress’ ability to turn what college students think is “cool” into complete stupidity and ridiculousness is what made him so damn funny at certain points of the night.
He further showcased this humor with a skit about rapping, and the simplicity and acceptance of some rap lyrics, with no further questioning.
After hysterically imitating Riff Raff’s persona, Buress discussed the common use of white celebrity names used to refer to cocaine in rap lyrics, using the example, “I got a pound of that ‘Justin Bieber’ or that ‘Miley Cyrus.’”
He imposed “thought-provoking” rhetorical questions to the audience such as, “Why not using the name Susan B. Anthony or William Howard Taft” instead?
I actually pondered the possibility of these names being used, and the idea was too funny.
The night ended with a rap ensemble, which featured ballerinas spinning and heaps of shiny confetti flying through the air.
I probably enjoyed this portion of the show most considering the randomness and fine art aspects included in the performance, of course.
That night, both comedians touched on realities and situations most students and alumni in the building could attest to, but honestly the jokes were nothing new of what most of my friends could come up with and tell themselves.
Harsh, but am I wrong?
The perspectives of Barnett and Buress on many relevant and hot topics generated both thought, and laughter in some cases.
However, I did not leave this show feeling overwhelmed with giggles and a good time, nor did I feel moved in any way.
It was simply, ok.
Overall, I’d give both Buress and Barnett a C.
This grade considers the comedy, relevance and reaction of the audience to both performances.
While I may not be biggest fan of stand-up comedy, I’m a journalist and I know a good act when I see one.
Feature Photo Credit: Hannibal Buress yells during a joke at SEE’s homecoming comedy show inside of Cole Field house. This was the last ever event inside of Cole before the upcoming renovation. (Josh Loock/Bloc Reporter)
Racquel Royer is a freshman journalism major and may be reached at Royer.firstname.lastname@example.org.