In what is surely a comedy special first, Miami Nights opens with Buress promoting a meeting startup. Then it cuts to 2017, as Buress addresses his viewers via Miami police officer Luis Verne's body camera, saying, "Hey what's up. It's me, Hannibal Buress. This cop's stupid as fuck." Then, before his special begins, there is a throwback 2002 set of Buress performing as "Hannibal: Amir Natural," in a style that mirrors Mitch Hedberg. These clips, along with the audiovisual tweaks throughout, make it an interesting special aesthetically. And Buress makes sure these quirks are always in service of a joke, not to fill gaps.
Miami Nights is the first comedy special directed by Kristian Mercado Figueroa, and it's unlike any other special that has been released this year, and perhaps ever. Its title, and a large chunk of the set, focuses on Hannibal Buress's 2017 arrest for disorderly intoxication in Miami. At a time when violent and fatal shootings by police have been a constant fixture of the news cycle, Buress's experience provides a light and cathartic roasting of a specific police officer. But even in this retelling of a drunken night in Miami, there is a concern of who this country allows to be cops.
Released on July 3 and shot at the Olympia theater in downtown Miami, Miami Nights marks Buress's fifth special. The overall aesthetic makes for a unique visual experience, as Buress uses a giant screen to pull up visual aids during the show. There are also post-production tweaks, like Buress talking in a pitched-down Satanic voice and asides crooned in Auto-Tune. In a bit about Prince performing multiple encores, Buress's act-out has been cut and pasted multiple times in a row, creating a dizzying montage for the viewer.
Though visual and audio effects never add fluff to the special, they sometimes they seem like a flex of an ability to clear samples. At one point, after playing a clip of Michael Jackson dancing to tag a joke, he points at the screen saying, "I don't know how much that costs."
The sporadic use of Auto-Tune and post-production effects in Miami Nights make for a memorable special, one with a much higher production value than any other comedy special, straight-to-YouTube or otherwise. These touches will be familiar to those who have attended a Hannibal Buress show in the last few years, or tuned into his podcast, Handsome Rambler, both of which are DJ'd and cohosted respectively by DJ Tony Trimm. Trimm provides both DJ and AV support on Miami Nights.
The details feel intentional, even with the opening song, "Fried Rice," nods to the central story of Miami Nights, as Bas raps about "decisions that I be making when I get impaired." His closing song, "Relatable" by Open Mike Eagle, is perhaps a nod to many of us having our own Miami Nights moment thanks to alcohol.
Buress makes a point in this special that he's made in his 2012 Animal Furnace: he's going to move on, and you're still going to be you; whether it's in the case of Buress providing temporary diversity to a college campus, or Buress suffering a temporary setback for his disorderly intoxication charge, but his arresting officer will still be the man (or lack thereof) that he is when Buress leaves the station and the charges are eventually dropped.
In Miami Nights, Buress's personal experience with a cop is a hilarious but alarming example of who enforces the laws in this country. The comedian reflects on his mistakes in this interaction (mostly, that he drank too much) as well as the cop's poor handling of the situation, one in which Buress is clearly and decisively the victor: the experience led him to sobriety from alcohol, his charges were dropped, and it all provided inspiration for an excellent and free comedy special, in which his defense attorney is featured.