Hannibal Buress has been one of the most talked about comedians for the last half-decade. From his Emmy-nominated writing with SNL and that searing indictment of Bill Cosby that shot him into the mainstream, to his continuing work on new cult classics The Eric Andre Show and Broad City, it seems that it’s only a matter of time before he catches his first Disney franchise, becomes a household name and all of our mothers fall in love with that cheeky little smile of his. And that’ll be a beautiful thing to see – who doesn’t want a blurry mall selfie of your mum with Hannibal Buress,
And that’ll be a beautiful thing to see – who doesn’t want a blurry mall selfie of your mum with Hannibal Buress, Superstar? But for what I’m guessing will be a very brief moment we still have the chance to see the road hardened, boundary-pushing Hannibal Buress, Comedian, and tonight in Hamer Hall that Hannibal Buress slayed.
The set-up for this show was incredible. From front-to-back, the entire event was one complete production with no downtime and no stop gaps, offering an atmosphere less like a comedy show and more like a 3-hour multi-medium comedy presentation. From the moment the lights dimmed, you were strapped in for The Hannibal Montanabal Experience; DJ Tony Trimm had the crowd rolling with laughter, splicing grimy-ass Wocka Flocka Flame and Soulja Boy beats with video from such timeless classics as the Sylvester Stallone arm-wrestling epic Over The Top, or the ‘Bonnie Doon’ scene from The Castle. This unfortunately didn’t leave any room for a local opening act (everybody gets minus points for not having local support in my books), but I do feel that Trimm‘s inclusion of a clip of Scott and Charlene’s Wedding from Neighbours showed some true national spirit, and that simply must be respected.
But he wasn’t done there, no sir. For the rest of the show, Trimm sat at his decks controlling both audio and video content for whoever was on stage, giving each comedian two extra platforms to play with while also offering a Paul Schaeffer to their Letterman – complete with sidekick anecdotes, musical punchlines and even a lil’ call and response action. Without a doubt the MVP of the evening – top shot, Tony Trimm.
Next up was Cleveland native Al Jackson who did not disappoint for one single minute; dude literally had me laughing from the moment he took up the mic until the moment he set it back down. I’m not gonna say the man outshone the headliner; the laughs may not have hurt as much, but considering I could barely stop to catch my breath during his entire set I have to say he definitely had me laughing more consistently. No slight to Hannibal at all, but credit where credit is due; the entire time is damn consistent. And while the Dave Chappelle influence is noticeable in Jackson, he has this whole Mr. Cooper meets Mr. Winslow thing going on that is all his own, and man does it ever sell a joke. Definitely not a show to miss when you get the chance to catch one – I know I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled for a return tour.
Now on to the main course. The Top Dawg. The Big Kahuna. The Hannibal Montanabal.
Hannibal Buress is without a doubt one of the hottest names in comedy right now so I expected a high-quality show, but this blew the hype right out of the water. His delivery was slick, his timing was ridiculous, not to mention the interactive media gags and his interplay with Tony Trimm – every single aspect of his artistry was on point this evening. His interaction with the audience felt incredibly genuine and not at all contrived, and his local references were delivered in a context that made them relevant and worth mentioning, rather than just tacking on a Crocodile Dundee joke and hoping for an easy sell. The lock-out laws in Sydney took a good 10-to-15 minute battering (which was nice), and in Melbourne all you have to say is “SYDNEY SUCKS” to get a favourable reaction, but Hannibal actually had some genuine material on the topic. He’d done some deep-down research on the matter at hand. Restrictive alcohol laws had clearly affected him quite deeply for the 24 hours he had spent there, not to mention his new-found and deeply unsettling fear of thunderstorm asthma (we’re all with you on that one, champ).
Plus he’s just so gosh-darned endearing. Even if his jokes weren’t selling, I feel you could listen to the man talk on just about anything and he could win over a crowd. Hannibal Buress could relay golf commentary and win over a crowd. For an hour and a half, he played the stage like it was an accordion; a couple jokes here, a local anecdote there, a little crowd interaction peppered in before BAM! Dude crushes it with a video gag leaving the whole venue crying. And like clockwork, as you regain your composure and catch your breath Hannibal is right on time with a Kanye gag outta left field to steal the breath straight back out of you (not unlike thunderstorm asthma). The entire night was honestly relentless on the body, and Hannibal had me laughing so hard I was making sounds I thought only wounded animals made. I’m still fairly convinced they’re not achievable by humans without being put under extreme duress. And just as my sides started to split completely, outta nowhere our man drops a ridiculous freestyle (and I mean ridiculous) with Trimm on hype-man, let’s the beat ride out as he says his goodnights and exits stage left just as humbly as he appeared. House lights up, roadies in – no encore.
What a rockstar.