Has anyone ever made a joke with as much impact as Hannibal Buress?
In 2014, the Chicago comedian did a bit about the many rumors of sexual assault around Bill Cosby, and the seeming incredulity with which people respond to the idea that "America's Dad" was potentially a predator.
A video clip of his joke, made on stage in a Philadelphia club, went viral. In short order, more women came forward with stories of assaults. A once-forgotten story developed into one of the most appalling case studies of abuse in the "Me Too" era. Last week, Cosby, one of the most famous living entertainers in the country, was found guilty.
Buress hasn't said anything publicly and seemed to be tired of discussing it long before the most recent developments.
Revisiting his most recent Netflix special, 2016's "Comedy Camisado," it's easy to guess why.
He has a free-ranging, personal take on stand-up, in which situations in his life spiral outward into absurdism, often based on his self-admitted skepticism of other people. He's not a political crusader, just another 30-something pointing out the oddities and hypocrisies of life, and himself.
There's plenty about his routine that can't be printed here, but he does an extended bit about losing his driver's license while on tour, and learning that it's relatively easy to board planes without one. To his surprise, TSA is less stringent than a clerk at Embassy Suites, who doesn't believe who he is even after looking a clip of him on Letterman, as though it was all part of a five-year plan to sneak into a cheap hotel room. In another, he imagines that the crying babies he acted with in a movie scene didn't respect the craft, or are possibly racist. Except for the baby who nailed the role. (He hopes that baby will give him Morgan Freeman roles when he's older.) He goes on about the ridiculousness names of NBA teams once they've moved from their founding cities, like the Utah Jazz. (He says it's "a misdemeanor to own a saxophone in Utah."). He interrogates the boredom of baseball — a sport where the "greatest achievement" is a no-hitter, an hours-long game in which nothing happened.
He tells many of these bits with a gradually accelerating density of words, to the point that many could function as a good piece in McSweeney's. Through over an hour, he mentions Cosby only once and he has such an original voice that you don't particularly care that he doesn't dive into more.
Buress will perform at the Wilma on Wednesday, May 9. Doors open at 7 and the show starts at 8. The show is sold out.