Hannibal Buress is no secret. When you've been touted by Chris Rock and Aziz Ansari as one of the deadliest standups in the game, the emphasis pivots to meeting expectations. Wednesday night at Acme - the first of the 29-year-old's three-night Twin Cities stand - he delivered one knockout punch after another, a triumphant set that more than justified the hype and left sides split wide open.
Stylistically, it's hard to place Buress. His unassuming and mellow persona was accented with excitable highs as he performed his "Animal Furnace" hour at Acme. The Chicago-born comedian is a writer at his core (he's spent time in "30 Rock" and "SNL" rooms), so the brunt of his impact comes from deadly sharp material. There's no underpinning theme to his act; he effortlessly jumps from politics, to sex to drugs to minutia musings, never hunkering down on one subject for too long. Delivered via a cool and charismatic stage presence, Buress' comedic arsenal is almost unfair.
Buress opened Wednesday with newish political material. He expressed dismay at Obama and Romney's lack of emphasis on TSA harassment, claiming "I travel way more than I get babies aborted." Buress waxed poetic about his affinity for YouTube fight videos. He's found one of a bus driver uppercutting a passenger particularly artful ("Minneapolis is a cultured city, you can appreciate that.")
Buress touched on showbiz, recalling an opening gig opening for Tracy Morgan, for whom he wrote for on "30 Rock." The ensuing anecdote features a choice Crazy Tracy moment. Narrative-rooted bits about car accidents with ugly strangers and a drunk confrontation in a foreign Subway kept the audience in stitches. Towards the end of his set, Buress delivered more of the esoteric one-liners he's known for. He got surplus of riff mileage out of ordering seafood ("Spicy items have a pepper next to them on the menu, a fish with eyes should have an eyeball next to it") and the futility of "market price" items ("I don't follow the swordfish market".)
Before he left, Buress teased that he'd sit quietly for five minutes then walk off. With the Acme audience squarely plopped in the palm of his hand, he probably could have pulled it off.