The comedy scene has exploded in Madison in recent years, and this Saturday, Madison welcomed one of stand-up’s rising stars to the stage at Barrymore Theater. Hannibal Buress, named one of Variety‘s “10 Comics to Watch in 2010,” has continued to rise in the comic ranks achieving success after writing for 30 Rock and Saturday Night Live.

Hannibal has a unique style that blends his methodical delivery seamlessly with offbeat observational comedy. Hannibal kept the crowd laughing at almost every turn as his topics veered from life on the road, to daily encounters to his love of apple juice.

Hannibal utilized several unconventional techniques throughout the show to keep the audience engaged and gain some laughs, and there were times when he cut the lights to signal that his joke was done. Usually, these jokes were terrible, so cutting the lights only added to the humor.  

In the second half of his show, Hannibal spoke on his love of rap music and asked for help from his DJ to break down lines from rap songs. He poked fun at Kanye West for using made-up words in his songs, shouldered T.I. for being part rapper, part criminal and chided 2 Chainz for being … well, for being 2 Chainz.

During his hour-long set, Buress used many new jokes that weren’t in his recent “Animal Furnace” DVD special. When newer jokes didn’t play as well as expected, Hannibal fell back on tired jokes to regain audience approval.

He also talked about his life goals and dreams, which included eating a penguin sandwich and how he would give $500 to wrangle the penguin and cook it himself.

Hannibal Buress played to the crowd with finesse, demonstrating his veteran comic skills despite being only 29-years-old, contrasting the many teenage kids sitting in the front row. The youngsters even provided their own source of comedy: After one punchline that involved some cursing, Buress turned to the kids and asked what the rest of the crowd was thinking, “did your parents know what they were getting you into”? 

Once Hannibal finished his set, people began filing out. But he soon returned for an encore with another 10 minutes of material. Here, Hannibal took requests from audience members, who shouted out their favorite jokes such as “Jesus and tacos” or “regretful pedophile.” During the encore there was plenty of rehashed material, but the audience loved it. And even though most were familiar with the punchlines, the jokes were still hilarious, thanks in part to Hannibal’s unique style and contagious laugh.

Overall, Hannibal gave an excellent performance Saturday here in Madison. For only $15, this was the best entertainment in town. With continued support from the community, comedy will continue to grow, and Madison will hopefully see more of Hannibal Buress and top-tier comedians.