Chicago native Hannibal Buress (yes, that’s his name) is touring the United States, Canada, and Australia with a microphone, a DJ, and a dry wit. He exploded onto the club comedy scene in 2009, during his tenure as a writer on Saturday Night Live, and skyrocketed quickly.
Buress’ first comedy album, My Name is Hannibal, was released in 2010, followed by three more albums in as many years. Since that album’s release, Buress has appeared in 14 feature films and over 15 television series. He has a recurring role, dentist Lincoln Rice, on Comedy Central’s Broad City and helped roast Justin Bieber on that network in 2015.
Buress is the recipient of Time Out Chicago’s 2007 Chicago’s Funniest Person award and Comedy Central’s 2012 American Comedy Award for Best Club Comic. His work on Saturday Night Live earned him a 2010 Emmy nomination, and his six-month stint writing for 30 Rock earned him a nod from the Writer’s Guild of America.
On Friday night at Raleigh Memorial Auditorium, in front of an enthusiastic but polite audience of Triangle hipsters, Hannibal Buress proved why he has such a loyal fan base, with an impressive and satisfying set. The first of his two opening acts, Tony Trimm, Buress’s official DJ, blasted an interesting assortment of hip-hop club anthems, combined with a bizarre, funny, and oddly disturbing collection of ironic and vintage television and film clips. The second opener, L.A.-based comic and TV personality Al Jackson, earned laughs as numerous and boisterous as Buress himself.
After an hour of openers, this Bob Nocek Presents LLC production, officially entitled Hannibal Buress: The Hannibal Montanabal Experience — a twist on the Disney Channel’s Hannah Montana series — began. Buress is a laid-back comic. His casual dress, demeanor, and delivery puts his words at the forefront. He got well-earned laughs throughout the evening with his strong writing — a combination of mostly observational and anecdotal material — delivered in a conversational, almost lethargic fashion. There was not much audience play, and didn’t appear to be much off-the-cuff material.
Buress mostly stayed away from politics, with only a few light jabs toward Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Somewhat surprisingly, he did not venture into racial territory, even though the recent events in Charlotte gave him an easy in. I’m curious to find out if his set was different on Saturday night at Charlotte’s Knight Theater at the Levine Center for the Arts.
The Raleigh set’s highlight was the astute and relatable observations about the state of rap music and some of its legendary performers. In an interesting move, and not something Buress is known for doing, some brief video clips and sound cues were used to punctuate and illustrate the topic.
The show ended on a low note, with a feeble attempt at a callback to a joke that worked only 75 percent effectively the first time around. Buress probably should have pulled the plug about 20 minutes early, as the set was becoming tedious. However, the great majority of his set was engaging, relatable, and extremely funny.
If you can catch his act in an upcoming city, I would recommend him. Raleigh Memorial Auditorium did not appear to be the best venue, given that a little more than half the house appeared to be sold. The Carolina Theatre of Durham would have been a better venue, given Buress’ relaxed presentation and Friday’s mid-sized audience.
On a related note, the renovations to Raleigh Memorial Auditorium, which are in progress, are hideous. The entire interior looks like either a 1970s airport lounge or a third-rate Las Vegas hotel.
The Hannibal Montanabal Experience is in the Rated R zone for language and sexual references, as well as extremely violent film clips in Tony Trimm’s video montages.
SECOND OPINION: Sept. 22nd Raleigh, NC News & Observer preview by Craig D. Lindsey: http://www.newsobserver.com/entertainment/arts-culture/article102904597.html; Sept. 21st Durham, NC Indy Week preview by Allison Hussey : http://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/after-broad-city-and-the-eric-andre-show-comedian-hannibal-buress-moves-to-the-big-room/Content?oid=5068361; and Sept. 21st Durham, NC Indy Week preview by Allison Hussey : http://www.dukechronicle.com/article/2016/09/interview-buress.
HANNIBAL BURESS: THE HANNIBAL MONTANABAL EXPERIENCE (Bob Nocek Presents LLC, Sept. 23 in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium in Raleigh, NC).
SHOW: http://www.bnpresents.com/events/2016/9/23/hannibal-buress and http://www.dukeenergycenterraleigh.com/event/hannibalburess-7601.
PRESENTER: http://www.bnpresents.com/, https://www.facebook.com/bnpresents/, and https://twitter.com/bnpresents.
Hannibal Buress (Chicago-born stand-up comedian, actor, and screenwriter): http://hannibalburess.com/ (official website), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2868110/ (Internet Movie Database), https://www.facebook.com/HannibalBuress (Facebook page), https://twitter.com/hannibalburess (Twitter page), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hannibal_Buress (Wikipedia), and https://www.youtube.com/user/HannibalBuress ( YouTube).
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Dustin K. Britt is a Triangle native, holds a master’s degree in special education from East Carolina University, and teaches locally. He can be spotted all over the Triangle area either painting scenery or chewing o n it. He has received local theater award nominations for doing both. He is a devoted cinephile and author of Hold the Popcorn, a movie blog on Facebook. Click here to read his reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment He can also be found via his official Facebook page and on Twitter @dkbritt85.