Here at The LAMP, we have a great deal of respect, admiration and love for the art form known as standup comedy. I consider myself a stand-up junkie, having logged hundreds of hours listening to albums, watching routines, tuning into late night shows. My favorite people have always been comedians. I marveled at the Marx Brothers and their antics. I watched the movie The Toy dozens and dozens of times, excited to see the man whose records I listened to regularly cut it up on the big screen (later I would be conflicted about the movie – was it satire about human trafficking or making light of it?). The inspiration for co-founding The LAMP came from a cult comic hero of mine. And I can quote you entire passages from Bill Cosby’s Himself, a comedy masterpiece.
The former we have now come to largely learn was a horrible monster who preyed on dozens of women in the most heinous of ways. Most of us learned about it from the viral video of another – you guessed it – stand-up comic.
On a Philadelphia stage in October 2014, Hannibal Buress delivered a two-minute joke about Bill Cosby that went viral. Buress had delivered this joke multiple times before this video captured it and broadcast it to the world, and he continued to do it after. But this video took an unspoken truth that was murmured throughout the entertainment world about one of the most powerful figures in entertainment and delivered it for millions of eyes to see and be confronted with this awful reality. In many ways, this video has been credited for sparking the firestorm that has engulfed Cosby’s career. But I don’t think the video is solely responsible.
Buress has largely disavowed his role in the dismantling of Cosby’s legacy, preferring to say it wasn’t his intention to have this impact. But, the reason I choose him as our Luminary of the month is for his choice to deliver this concealed truth to his audiences, even though – or especially because – the truth about our heroes often hurts. One of the most incredible things about stand-up comedy is that it packages difficult realities we struggle to face and allows us to laugh at them, and come closer to acceptance. Buress knew this when he wrote the two minutes of Cosby jokes. And he knew that when he delivered it.
For that, we salute him.