I’ll admit it: On Sunday night, once I started to see all the images of Kanye and Prince together on stage at the Grammys, all I could think was that Hannibal Buress had been right! I had just come back from seeing Hannibal Buress perform at BAM and Buress had spoken about seeing Kanye in an airport in Minneapolis, even though Ye didn’t have a show there, which could clearly only mean one thing: Kanye and Prince had collaborated on something big! I was wrong, of course, about what I saw onstage at the Grammys; I didn’t even notice Beck’s presence till later, and so didn’t get that Kanye had been staging an impromptu protest against the injustices of the music industry. And yet, simply because Kanye and Prince weren’t performing on stage together Sunday night, it doesn’t mean it won’t be happening in the very near future. After all, Hannibal Buress believes it to be so, and I’m kind of inclined to believe pretty much anything Hannibal Buress has to say at this point.
Why do I have such complete faith in Buress? Well, there’s a couple of reasons, really. First, his low-key, matter-of-fact demeanor on stage makes it pretty near impossible to do anything but nod your head in agreement with just about anything he says. The total allure of playing Russian Roulette? Yes, I get it! (Buress has figured out a fool-proof way to play it without risking life or limb, but maintaining the ultra-high stakes: Shoot at your X-Box.) How hiring a cleaning woman isn’t an ultra-elitist practice? I absolutely see the point! (Think about it, Buress implores; you’d spend $50 ordering sushi, why not on getting your house cleaned?) The inherent strangeness about the fact that so many raps start off with the artist singing about his morning wood? Yes! That is weird. (We collectively listened to the openings of about ten songs, all of which began with some variation of “I woke up/my dick was really hard.”)
Buress is so compelling during his stand-up act, that it makes perfect sense that a comment about the rape accusations against Bill Cosby made during Buress’s stand-up routine just a few months ago would wind up making so many people actually sit up and take notice, like, Hey, maybe there is something to the fact that over two dozen women have all accused Cosby of the exact same atrocious thing! Sometimes, it seems, people need to hear the truth from an unlikely platform—like a stand-up routine—before they can actually believe it.
All of which isn’t to say that Buress only talks about big issue stuff; on the contrary, most of Buress’s act is much smaller in focus, and no less funny for it. He touched on everything from how his Williamsburg landlord loves to tell him about all the buildings he could have bought in 2006 for, like, $350 to how he farted when he went to Sleep No More. It was a rangy, thoroughly enjoyable performance that ended with Buress rapping maybe the worst rhyme I’ve ever heard (he was backed by DJ Tony Trimm all night) with a ballerina pirouetting in the background. Of note were also Buress’s opening acts, comedian Simeon Goodson, a Brooklyn comedian who was hilarious and spot-on for a Brooklyn crowd that loves to laugh at jokes about buying muffins on N. 4th Street and riding the D (train t the Bronx), and rapper Jean Grae. Grae, who absolutely killed sartorially in a Deadpool cardigan (I. Want. It.) was a force on stage. She commanded everyone in BAM stand up for her entire set, and when Jean Grae tells you to do something, you do it. She also got the whole, buttoned-up front row, consisting mostly of arhythmic white dudes, to do the wop in time with her songs. It was pretty amazing. The whole night was, really.
Now: When is that Kanye/Prince collab happening?
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