I’ve gotten into the habit of not allowing myself to look forward to the things I enjoy. Don’t worry, I’m not as much of a depressing Debbie Downer as that statement makes it sound, I’ve just been burned too many times by things not living up to the amazing expectations they’ve built up for themselves. Indiana Jones 4, both Hangover sequels, the latest album from Justin Timberlake…All forms of entertainment I was looking forward to, only to be let down by my unrealistic expectations. That being said, there are a handful of things I’ve learned I can look forward to. Films by Pixar, the fourth season of "Arrested Development" and the fifth season of "Community" are all examples of things I am wary of building up too high only to have my expectations consistently blown away.
And now you can add to that list Hannibal Buress.
When “Animal Furnace” came out, the follow-up to his hilarious “My Name is Hannibal” I was a bit nervous. How in the world could he possibly top that? Well, he did it by being funny (I know, go figure). So, when I saw “Live from Chicago” was coming down the pipeline, I felt a little more secure about looking forward to it. Yes, I was excited. Yes, I wanted to hear it. And yes, I was pretty sure he’d kill me with comedy once again.
Buress, with his biting comedy cleverly wrapped in relaxed delivery, confidently takes the stage and immediately wins over the crowd with his Windy City inside jokes. From that point on it’s smooth sailing as we are led through the seas of New Orleans (Seriously? A Parades Department, NOPD?), rappers trying to impress us with their not-so-hardcore drug of choice, and what Buress would do with an extra $5000, his bare hands, and an unsuspecting penguin.
The way Buress tells a story is engaging and I particularly enjoy how genuinely surprised he seems to be when the details take an odd turn. This isn't a guy coming at you with a look-how-funny-I-am approach or a you-won’t-believe-the-silly-thing-I-made-up braggadocio but instead sits down beside you and quietly asks, “This thing that happened to me. It’s kinda weird, right?”
There’s never a lull in the show and certainly no “skippable” tracks, as the CD rolls out one great bit after another. You’ll be glad to know that opening for Tracy Morgan is just as random as you would expect it to be, you’ll find out what it’s like to wait in line for the bathroom in front of Scarlett Johansson (and not let her jump ahead), and you’ll find out just why, when it comes to who Buress outlives, Will Smith needs to be the first to go.
So rest assured fellow lovers-of-Hannibal. This project is just as good as you hoped it would be. It’s just as funny as you wished it would be and Buress is just as skilled as you knew he would be. Keep keeping your expectations high and Buress will keep blowing them away.