One thing that you can count on at Just for Laughs is that the festival schedule will include the most relevant and notable comedians that year. For that reason, it was no surprise that Hannibal Buress was scheduled to perform and when we saw his name announced, we knew that his show was one we did not want to miss. Hannibal’s last few specials have been among our favourites in recent years and whenever he is on TV it is appointment viewing in our house.
Over the last couple of years, Hannibal has become known outside of comedy circles as the guy who ignited the Bill Cosby situation (not sure what is the right word for the whole Bill Cosby thing so situation will have to do). Hannibal never could have imagined how that would have spiralled, but the joke that started it all was in line with his act. Hannibal is fearless with his material. He does not shy away from any topic.
We’re pretty sure that the next thing that Hannibal will be known for is the inclusion of multimedia in his shows. Prior to his set, a DJ named Tony Trimm was on stage pumping up the audience with music and some, let’s call them “unusual”, videos. Not only was it a unique way of entertaining the crowd before the show started, but Tony Trimm would also continue to be on stage and play an integral role in Hannibal’s set as his DJ skills were put to good use about halfway through. The mix of hip hop music, stand-up, and videos was unlike anything we’d seen in a stand-up set before. Hannibal spent a significant portion of his show making fun of hip hop lyrics. Instead of repeating the words, he actually played them for the audience, which elevated it to another level. The use of multimedia wasn’t isolated just to hip hop observations, but this material best integrated with the audio and visual component. Hannibal’s creativity paid off. Sitting in the audience, we felt like we could have watched Hannibal take on the rap and hip hop world all night long. Though it came later in the night, Hannibal’s closing number also served as a great parody of today’s rap lyrics.
Hannibal’s set touched on a number of other topics as well. His observations on property values, getting ripped, his own asthma, funerals, taxis, and the water crisis in Flint were all on point. Whatever the subject matter, we’re always interested in Hannibal’s take. It doesn’t matter if it is something silly like what his own funeral would be like or a serious issue like the poisonous water in Flint, Michigan, his viewpoint always provides a unique take.
There are definitely some bits that will continue to be refined before the hour we saw will be recorded and aired, but it was obvious to us that Hannibal has another winning set on his hands. As every year passes, it is more and more evident that Hannibal Buress is one of the top comedians working today and we feel very fortunate that we had a chance to see him perform at Just for Laughs. If you get a chance, check out his show when he visits a city near you.