Cross a comedian at your peril. They can put their revenge on a very visible pedestal – as Hannibal Buress now does in response to his 2017 arrest for “disorderly intoxication”. That took place in Miami, to which the Eric Andre Show and Broad City star returned to tape this new special. Miami Nights ranges across our host’s new sobriety, his asthma, his recent house purchase – but its dominant routine concerns that brush with the law.
It can feel graceless when famous comedians use their pulpit to crush others. It does here – save that the dynamic is different when a black American avenges himself on the US police. Buress recounts the experience (pestering the police to call him an Uber, “roasting” the officer who put him behind bars) and there follows some light self-mockery, droll comedy about TV coverage of the incident, and Buress’s renunciation of alcohol, which tells its own penitent story.
Probably it’s a bigger-hitting routine to audiences, like Miami’s, who were exposed to the story in the first place. For me, it wasn’t the highlight of Buress’s show, which is funnier on life without booze (there’s a lovely faux-arrogant joke about no longer apologising for what he said the night before) and on Buress’s proposed new future for smokers who’ve had a laryngectomy. That’s a for-the-ages set piece, proving how fruitful the marriage of high silliness and Buress’s bone-dry, super-smooth charisma can be.
It’s not the only example in Miami Nights of creative use of tech. Now and then, the gig footage is manipulated (warped, slowed down, cartoonified), underscoring with special effects Buress’s latest salient point or stark reaction. It works; it seems to intensify, not compromise, the liveness. It’s not Buress’s best show, and I missed the light-touch but penetrating political sensibility he has brought to bear in the past. But Miami Nights is as easy to enjoy as Buress makes it seem easy to perform.