Was Hannibal Takes Edinburgh meant to be a documentary or a mini-special? Because, whilst I love Hannibal’s stand up, I wasn’t sure what the point of this film was.
In Hannibal’s latest collaboration with Netflix, we see the comic take on the Edinburgh Festival Fringe – the world renowned arts festival that lasts for a bit less than a month. American comedian, Hannibal Buress, who you might recognise from The Eric Andre Show, Broad City or even his (uncharacteristically crap) comedy central show Why? With Hannibal Buress, performs roughly 26 shows in his time at the festival. He has good days, bad days and just plain weird days. And that’s kind of it?
Hannibal’s comedy ranges from universally appealing to just plain weird. I love all of it. I suppose Hannibal Takes Edinburgh is a nice little introduction to his work. If you want to catch some fresh Hannibal content, then Hannibal Takes Edinburgh might be worth watching. There are a few snippets of him trying out some new stuff – jokes that never panned out or stray observations from earlier that day. We do get to see Hannibal’s Brooklyn apartment which literally looks like a meth addict’s, and a little behind the scenes footage that isn’t very insightful. Otherwise, a lot of the actual stand up content is from Comedy Camisado, his most recent special (which I definitely recommend), also available on Netflix.
I guess Edinburgh was going for the ‘insight into the art of comedy’ kind of feel, but it didn’t hit the nail on the head. I don’t think Hannibal is neurotic enough to completely delve into that (sorry Pete Holmes). The documentary does acknowledge the grueling nature of the festival and the propensity for comedians to burn out, but Hannibal just takes everything in his stride so well that the hook of the entire documentary fizzled out. I love Hannibal, but he is the wrong comedian for the kind documentary they were trying to shoot. So basically, we just end up watching clips of Hannibal doing stand up, walking around Edinburgh, watching a few other comedians and greeting fans at the end, but most if it is on stage. There’s no real narrative to the film.
As for its merit as a documentary, the film is on shaky ground. A fellow comedian touts the festival as the equivalent of a comedic marathon. After watching Edinburgh, I didn’t really see the difference between Hannibal’s experience of this particular festival, versus being on tour for a month. Eventually we do see Hannibal change his set up a bit, content-wise, and he even does a show without a microphone. But when things seem tough, Hannibal essentially whinges about it and then moves on. In fact, the sad bits are the exact same as the happy bits, just with sombre music playing. Hannibal is not a tortured artist, he’s just a funny guy that works hard.
The bottom line is, yes, Hannibal is hilarious but, no, Hannibal Takes Edinburgh isn’t worth watching. If you are a super fan looking for extra content, then I would consider it, but otherwise just watch his other standup specials.
Hannibal Takes Edinburgh (2016): 5/10