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Hannibal Buress brings his unique stand-up skills to the Strip

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Buress drew genuine laughs at House of Blues on April 4.
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Jason Harris

Three and a half stars

Hannibal Buress April 4, House of Blues.

Hannibal Buress has achieved a level of notoriety that has him questioning people’s intentions. Every time he meets someone, he wonders, “What’s your motive? Why are you so aggressive? Is this a setup or some sh*t?” Then he gets to the point everyone wants him to address, “Did Bill Cosby send you …”

Buress reignited a firestorm against Cosby last year in Philadelphia with a joke about rape allegations. That kickstarted Cosby’s downfall, but it also led to unexpected fallout against Buress. “Bill Cosby has a lot of passionate fans,” Buress said Saturday night at House of Blues. “I know that because they write me every single day. People will write me saying sh*t like, ‘Cosby’s not a rapist, you are.’ What? That’s not how it works.”

The Cosby situation might still feel unfamiliar to the 32-year-old comedian, but he excels at attacking familiar issues with an idiosyncratic mind-set. Should he settle down and have children? “You see a guy at the airport with a wife and two kids. Some people say, ‘Wow, look at that beautiful family.’ But I just see a dude that had to buy four plane tickets.”

He twists topics with an offbeat precision that often speaks to a deeper truth. On the absurdity of adopting a child from a third-world country and bringing him to Las Vegas: “Look at what we do with water ... In your country you don’t even have access to clean water. Over here we make it dance in the middle of the desert. We make water dance where there is no water.”

After discussing how rapper Riff Raff doesn’t even rap at his own show but only completes each line by shouting its final two words into the mic as the entire track plays behind him, Buress attempted the same. A DJ spun a recorded version of one his jokes as Buress walked the stage, “I want to jizz in my hand and go to a palm reader and say …” Then Buress chimes in on the live mic with the track, “What does this mean?” The crowd loved the juxtaposition and the next few bits following the same format killed.

Buress has an evergreen closer, his own rap song, “Gibberish Rap,” which is exactly what you’d expect from that title. This version features live ballerinas, an acoustic verse and the DJ doubling his voice. The jubilant audience departed on a high note, leaving Buress no reason to question their motives. Those laughs were legit.

Tags: Comedy
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