TV Review: Why? With Hannibal Buress— “Pilot”

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I got to review Hannibal’s new Comedy Central show for the AV Club. I saw Hannibal murder here in my hometown of Portland (Maine—I put in the state because there are two Portlands and it’s infuriating when people assume all Portlands are the other Portland—anyway). Hannibal’s great. The show—still finding its footing.

Hannibal Buress has sneaky comic punching power. With his rolling, sleepy cadence, sly grin, and heavy-lidded gaze (“you squinty [expletive blurred]” reads one hate-tweet Buress reveals tonight), Buress’ comic persona looks too loose to the uninitiated, as if he’s just another amiable stoner comic content with lazy, unfocused buffoonery. Anyone lulled into complacency is brought up short before too long, as Buress’ affect hides a sharpness, an observational style that comes at you from unique angles. And when Buress reveals a genuine anger behind a joke, he can draw blood. Just ask Bill Cosby, whose current downfall can be traced without exaggeration back to the comparatively unknown Buress matter-of-factly calling the formerly beloved entertainer out as a rapist onstage. There’s society’s depressing unwillingness to credit the word of scores of women over a famous man in play there, but, while the facts were always available to everyone, it was Buress saying it that catalyzed public opinion. (He jokes tonight about “Cosby assassins” coming for him.) At first listen, Buress sounds like he doesn’t care about much of anything—which makes his comic premises carry surprising weight.

Click here for the review entire.

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