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.

Confetti, lights and smoke fill the room as Hannibal Buress and SEE help send off Cole Field House during its last event. The Homecoming Comedy Show was the last event to be held inside of Cole before the upcoming renovation. (Josh Loock/Bloc Reporter)
Confetti, lights and smoke fill the room as Hannibal Buress and SEE help send off Cole Field House during its last event. The Homecoming Comedy Show was the last event to be held inside of Cole before the upcoming renovation.
(Josh Loock/Bloc Reporter)

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.racquel.edu@gmail.com.

31 comments

  1. Wow. Expected a better rating based on your reaction…then you dropped the “C”. what?!

    Do they send people who don’t like movies to review movies as well?

    Like somebody sits through 3 hours of Schindler’s List, and their like, “I’m not a fan of these moving pictures. They kind of make me dizzy, so I just kind of stare at the other audience members to understand how to react to these images flying across the screen, imitating reality, but edited for our supposed enjoyment. I have to admit when the images of the Holocaust came onto the screen, I couldn’t help but be moved and cry. It was a terrible experience to have to experience the human condition in such a manner, when my life was not really that of a Holocaust survivor. It’s almost as if the director and writer knew the audience would feel out of place and shocked by the violence and inhumanity. I came away feeling very emotionally affected by this movie. I give it a “C”. I’m not a movie buff, but I know a good movie when I see it.”

    WHAT?!!!!!!!

  2. I too enjoy humours perspectives on life and found this particular blog post enjoyable. The writer’s insights on the mechanisms that make some jokes funny and others less funny were very helpful in understanding the nature of the show in question.

    I give this blog writer a C- for his writing style and insights into how humor affects humans.

  3. This review means as much to me as if Charles Barkley did a review of women’s figure skating. I was at this show and found it hilarious. Obviously people have different senses of humor, but if you dislike stand up comedy in general and look for the profound meaning in jokes, then you are going for the wrong reasons and won’t have a good time.

  4. Yikes. The cringe factor literally jumped off the page and attacked the reader in this piece. I have never felt so uncomfortable reading an article before but I think that’s because most news organizations have the common sense to not give a sociopath a public platform to voice their inner dialogue. A great piece if one is looking to gain psychological insight into what the mind of a future serial killer looks like. Everything about this piece screamed desperation of a person who just doesn’t get it but is trying so hard to prove that they do. I hope you change majors, journalism is certainly not the way to go.

  5. “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.” this quote is so fucking good, i almost want to get it tattooed across my back…

  6. This reminds me of Jebidiah Atkinson on SNL’s Weekend Update…the character based on the 1860s newspaper critic who literally found the Gettysburg Address lacking.

  7. Arrogant and ignorant. You’re not a fan of stand up? That’s like a lactose intolerant person reviewing cheese. I bet you blast businesses on Yelp for no good reason then brag to yourself. You said your a journalist, but then you said you’re a freshman… hmmmm. I think it takes more than a single semester of 100 level classes to be a journalist, but you got the arrogance down pat, so I guess you’re a fast learner.

  8. This is a waste of time, yours and ours. You should’ve spent this time pursuing your own interests or even just relaxing, because you accomplished absolutely nothing.

    Do you know why the cooking channel is full of world renowned chefs and food critics? Because people want to hear from them. Do you know why it does not feature my neighbour Mike that doesn’t cook anything more complicated than pizza rolls and hot dogs? Because his opinion on something he does not love is completely without value to others.

    That’s you. You are a journalist, and what’s the number one writing cliche? Write what you know. You don’t know comedy. Do us and yourself a favour next time, and don’t write about it again, please.

  9. I agree with pretty much everything everyone else said. And also, I agree with Hannibal buress that the article sounds like it was written by a robot. I’ve seen 51 standup shows in the past 4 years, I would call myself a connoisseur of all comedy (not just standup). I love the greats like George carlin and Richard Pryor, as well as many newer giants of comedy like Louis ck, and also many hilarious up-and-comers that no one knows about. I consider it an art form, and a beautiful one at that. I love that no act has to follow a particular formula or meet a particular expectation, and I would even go so far as to say it’s even amplified when it doesn’t. And I think that you absolutely do not understand that. You do sound like a robot trying to make sense of an art form. I do not believe that you should be giving grades to something you do not understand. As a journalist, you should know your expertise and understand the things you should not comment on. I am not an aerospace engineer so I don’t think I should be giving grades to the design on an airplane based on my one plane flight experience. The beautiful thing about comedy is that it is subjective, and I do support you having an opinion about particular jokes, but as a journalist, I don’t think you should be reviewing comedy (as someone who doesn’t really understand or enjoy it) because you have the ability to influence public opinion and even ticket sales.

    Ps, I recently saw Hannibal and it was the same material that you saw, and I found it very enjoyable. It is a very difficult and grueling job, and none of your friends could do what Hannibal and Kevin do without years of practice.

  10. My favorite line is: “. . . he acknowledged the audience’s unfamiliarity with his name and work.” It perfectly establishes the clueless nature of the author!

  11. Why would you review a commedy show if you have no writing talent, and especially no sense of humor? Also, if the crowd is laughing, isn’t it objectively good comedy?

  12. I just want you to know, this was a bad piece of writing but it doesn’t mean you’re a bad writer. You’re young. You’re gonna make mistakes. Try to roll with the punches and have a sense of humor about it, because otherwise this will fester with you. A tip for the future: don’t approach an article with confidence in your own ignorance. You seemed very dismissive of stand-up as an art, and you should not have been so proud of that fact. Even a fluff opinion piece should make you want to do some rudimentary research into the topic.

  13. This was by far the worst thing I have ever read today.

    As a journalism major, you should consider not wasting the next few years of your life.

    Everything you wrote, was, awful.

    So unbelievably pretentious, and then I thought, “But maybe this author has autism?”

    That would explain a lot. As in, your clear alienation from a crowd and/or comedy experience.

    But most troubling, why do you have so many paragraph breaks?

  14. Oh come on people. This may not be the best review I’ve ever read, but it’s written by a college student who is just learning how to write well. You shouldn’t judge her on the same basis that you judge Roger Ebert or Nathan Rabin.

    1. We shouldn’t judge the person judging? LMAO.

      She shouldn’t write for the Internet then.

      And she REALLY ought to NOT come across as condescending towards a whole art-form/industry.

      “Let me provide a disclaimer about my views toward stand-up comedy: I’m not the biggest fan.”

      This is proof she had no business writing anything of this sort and hopefully she’s learned from this embarrassing mistake.

  15. I’m not going to smash the quality of your writing cause it isn’t really fair and not really the point. Obviously a lot of Buress’ fans are going to rip you to shreds in any way they can without focusing on the real issue. I think he’s a decent comic but certainly not someone I would go out of my way to watch. The real issue here is that you are worryingly detached from the kind of standard emotional feelings and responses that most consider normal. You genuinely appear to be somewhere on the autism spectrum and should probably avoid reviewing anything like this ever again. Maybe you should talk to someone about these issues you have with being painfully isolated from everyone and everything around you?

  16. I know this author. 1st – she’s a female, not a male. 2nd – she’s 18 years old. 3rd – she awesome. 4th – all the negativity about her article only cracks her more. We all find it funny that you all care so much. It’s flattering. Let the hate and insults being passed out as insight continue please…

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