by Ryan Meehan
Hannibal Buress is best known for his work as a writer as well as his portrayal of a homeless man on the NBC hit sitcom “30 Rock”. He also wrote for Saturday Night Live during the 2009-2010 season and has been doing standup for several years now. However when I got this record I had never even heard of him, and I consider myself to be pretty well informed when it comes to standup comedy. I now feel blessed to have such knowledge dropped square on my ass. Every once in a while you get a CD and it just totally knocks you over, and this was one of those.
CD REVIEW: HANNIBAL BURESS – “ANIMAL FURNACE”
The first thing that you notice about this disc after ten or so minutes is the pace at which Buress moves through his act. Although the CD does not begin as fast as it ends, once he gets going he delivers at the perfect speed. A lot of comedians could use a serious lesson from Hannibal when it comes to pace. He works at a very Daniel Tosh-like sort of quickness, very much of a “catch up or you might not all be here at the end” approach.
The CD starts off with a really interesting story about a newspaper interview that he did prior to a show at Eastern Illinois University in which the article mentions that he was chosen to “bring diversity” to the campus. He goes on to explain that they also mentioned in the piece how much his guarantee was at the time, which is something that you just don’t do as a journalist. (And even though he says on the track how much he got paid, I’m not going to include it in this review because like I said, you just don’t do that shit.) Throughout the album, Buress makes it clear that he enjoys watching his audience squirm whether it’s telling us about things like how his nephew is a horrible person and how he hopes the kid doesn’t get into college. What’s refreshing about it is that you can tell he actually believes it, as opposed to just saying it to get an audience reaction. In other words, I wouldn’t want to get in a bar fight with this dude because I bet he’d choke me to death.
A typical comedy record review states that the comedian “covers everything from _____ to _____”. That’s not what you’re going to get in this one because that’s not what I hear. What I DO hear is a performer that wastes no time discussing subject matter that he doesn’t care about. I really like that in my comedy, and I respect the fact that there are no political opinions on the CD for that very reason. If he doesn’t feel like he needs to discuss things the audience might tend to expect a standup comedian to have an opinion on. There are some standard topics covered (such as airport security) but he comes at them from a fresh angle and it doesn’t seem the least bit stale at all.
Towards the end of the CD there’s this great bit that Hannibal does about getting debit and credit cards stolen, and how one of the thieves used his debit card to go to Chuck E Cheese twice before he had reported it stolen. That’s not even the funniest part about the bit though, and might I just go on record as saying that I continue to be fucking flabbergasted every single time I hear that those places are still open. I can’t wait for a comedian to write a bit about how ironic it is that there’s a pizza place for children whose mascot is a gigantic mouse, and if you went back into the kitchen of that restaurant you’d probably find mouse droppings everywhere. I bet the county health department probably wouldn’t find it nearly as funny as I do.
The set ends kind of abruptly, but it does so with the same uneasy tone as the rest of tracks seem to have. There’s this very sort of dark humor thing going on throughout the record’s entirety but it’s done really well so as to allow the listener to realize that it’s not cheap. Sometimes I feel like some comics try to dumb their material down in order to get more laughs, not understanding that there might be several people in that audience who feel insulted by such patronizing rhetoric. Buress doesn’t do that at all, and it likely raises the collective intelligence of every room he performs in.
Overall Score: 9.2/10.0
I really liked this album from the first time I heard it, which is not something that happens every time that I slip a CD into my player. But I can honestly say that I was hooked from about track four on, and listened to it three consecutive times. There is profanity, but it’s well placed and most definitely not abused or randomly stuck in the material solely for the purpose of shock value. One thing I look for in listening to a comedian that I’ve never heard of before is whether or not I’m going to look forward to what they’re going to put out in the future, and I can say for sure I’ll be buying Buress’ next album.
Bonus Note regarding the Title of the Record:
When I first received this from the distributor, I had no idea what was in the package. When I opened it up and saw the title, I thought “What the hell am I going to do with this?” because everyone (including myself) is increasingly sensitive these days when it comes to anything that might be misunderstood as making light of the suffering of animals. However after listening to the CD, I realized that there was absolutely no mention of the title at any point on the record. It took me a couple of hours to realize that the reason he may have given the disc that name is because “Animal Furnace” rhymes with Hannibal Buress. (I’m not very smart on my days off) There is an accompanying DVD that goes along with the CD, so perhaps this is explained on the special features section of the DVD. I’m just going to go ahead and assume that the title has no underlying meaning and the guy doesn’t really want to burn my neighbor’s dog.
Make sure to catch Hannibal’s standup special on Sunday, May 20th at (9PM EST/8PM CST) and pick up “Animal Furnace” on Comedy Central Home Entertainment that same week.
Official Website: http://hannibalhannibal.tumblr.com/
Hannibal on Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/hannibalburess
Hannibal on YouTube: http://www.facebook.com/#!/HannibalBuress
Hannibal on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/#!/HannibalBuress
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