If you’re trying to announce something, April 1 is probably the worst day of the year to do it, especially if you’re a comedian. So when word came out Friday morning that Hannibal Buress was performing a surprise show at the Waiting Room in Buffalo that very night, many people were understandably skeptical.
“That’s how much you don’t like your own city,” Buress said as he opened his set, mocking the voices of the disbelievers. “ 'No way. Why would he come here?' ”
The surprise appearance has become a staple in his repertoire, having done the same thing recently in Miami and Washington, D.C.
The fact that Buress can announce an April Fools' Day show with no notice and still pack the venue with a few hundred people is a testament to the rising comedy star. A former writer for NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” and “30 Rock,” the Chicago native gained national attention in 2014 after his routine about the rape allegations against Bill Cosby helped precipitate Cosby’s downfall in the public eye.
Fortunately, Buress is much more than that footnote, releasing two albums thus far and co-starring on Adult Swim’s “The Eric Andre Show” and Comedy Central’s “Broad City,” as well as appearing on several other television comedies and films. He showed his work onstage too, as his set on Friday went more than an hour, mixing well-honed jokes with new material and bits with an onstage DJ.
While Buress mocked the city of Syracuse, where he performed the previous night, he was appreciative of the support he has received in Buffalo. He recalled one of his previous appearances at Helium Comedy Club in the middle of a snowstorm, though people still showed up to see him perform.
“I appreciate that,” Buress said. “I make bad decisions all the time too.”
Buress covered a wide range of topics with his standup, such as how nobody ever shows up at fundraising walks to eradicate asthma, how he’ll never live up to his dream to become his generation’s greatest actor because he constantly plays himself, and his desire to have children in the future.
“If I don’t have a kid, who am I going to give all this wisdom to? Twitter?” he said.
The comedian also delivered a few stinging remarks about the current presidential campaign. Buress wondered why nobody is talking about how Bernie Sanders is old and likely to die soon, called Hillary Clinton “a crouton personified,” and suggested of Donald Trump, “He’s like a comedian who just throws things out there to see what sticks.”
A running theme of Buress’ set was his fascination with other entertainers, from Jay Z to the preacher at his uncle’s funeral, who he said delivered “the worst performance of 2016.” The jokes eventually led to an extended bit with his onstage DJ, as Buress would comment on samples from various rap songs, and even his own past standup material.
As Buress’ set was approaching the 1:10 hour mark around midnight, he closed the show with a performance of his own rap song, “Rappin’ Rap Rap Rap Rappin',” which was accompanied by a pair of ballerinas dancing onstage. Just in case anybody in the audience didn’t understand the intricacies of the lyrics, Buress also performed an a cappella version of the song.
For the audience attending Friday’s show, it was surely the finest collection of April Fool’s jokes they heard all day.
Friday night in Waiting Room