From behind the scenes to center stage
In describing Buress, Chris Rock invoked the names of Steven Wright, Mos Def and Dave Chappelle, but in watching him on this special, shot in New York City in December 2011, there's a distinct element of Mitch Hedberg, if he had a full night's sleep and a five-hour energy shot. Though he can get loud at times, there's a laid-back feel to Buress' meandering thoughts about Canadian crime, church and McGriddles that makes his comedy fun and makes his "outrage" more amusing. Whether he's getting upset at a none-too-flattering newspaper profile or discussing how his cousin is an awful person, it's with more of a sense of bemusement than anger, which is great, since screaming comedy hasn't been in vogue in a few decades.
Drawing from his own work experience Buress gets the most mileage, starting with his gigs opening for bands, including a guy who put the microphone into an uncomfortable location and the resulting concerns about hygiene. A point-by-point breakdown of a ridiculous college newspaper profile lets him roll out plenty of comedic jokes, and his time writing for SNL provided him with stories about forcing Megan Fox to talk to him, mean monkeys and getting criticism from Lorne Michaels. Though the SNL stuff peters out with a bit about the elevators at work, it segues nicely to talk of his life on the road, including the problem with biscuits and passive burglars.
Buress also tackles some tried-and-true comedy topics, including relationships, rental cars, air travel and his weight, but they definitely aren't the usual gags those ideas inspire. Along the way he takes plenty of tangents, touching on rape stats, pub crawls for charity, concerts and credit card fraud. It's the rare comic who combines Odd Future's increasingly reasonable anarchy, abortion, having sex with his grandma and how apple juice can overcome racism. But it's not just the unique topics he covers, but the way he tells his jokes, with a relatively non-stop pace and a constantly present smile, sells every bit, whether it lands or not, going so far as to explain why he tells a certain joke that doesn't quite work. That kind of enthusiasm is infectious and it makes a very funny set that much better.
Unfortunately, for some reason, this disc sports a Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track, rather than the 5.1 surround that really should be the norm by now for stand-up specials. The audio is clean and clear, and there's no distortion on his voice, but it just sits there, center-balanced in the front of the room, when an immersive experience is just more enjoyable.
The Bottom Line