The New York Times has called Hannibal Buress “one of the fastest rising comics working today.” But that was back in 2011. Hell, we here at the City Paper have interviewed him twice in the last year and a half.
So for this article we thought we’d offer a few lesser-known fun facts about the ubiquitous stand-up comedian. Yes, that means Buress, for the first time, and for no discnerible reason, wouldn’t give us an interview. We forged on nonetheless …
Hannibal Buress’s comedy finds a home in the realm of the unorthodox. His previous tour featured a nightly performance of his fully produced hip-hop track, “Gibberish Song.” It’s exactly what the title suggests — a rap song with some words crammed around gibberish syllables. He even had a brigade of ballet dancers come on stage with him and plié and pirouette to the music.
But rest assured, most of Buress’s Comedy Fest routine will be jokes, just Buress alone with a microphone. That doesn’t mean he’ll tamp it down on the unorthodoxy; he’s got plenty of jokes about apple juice and hoarding his free tap water for the use of others.
It’s his delivery that makes it all somehow cohesive, wildly veering between laidback stoner ‘tude and the fire of an angry evangelical.
He’ll sometimes ramble off topic for minutes at a time, his words smearing together in an endless chain of syllables, before he returns to the joke and finishes with a snappy, pronounced punch line.
He’s weird. At times crude. Always unexpected. If you like that in your comedy, Buress might be right up your alley.
Now that we got the nuts and bolts out of the way, what else can be said about Hannibal Buress that hasn’t already been said? He’s not exactly a newcomer on the scene. The man’s been in feature films like Neighbors, The Nice Guys, and the upcoming Baywatch release. He’s a regular presence on the boob tube: Eric Andre’s sidekick on The Eric Andre Show, a love interest on the critically-acclaimed Broad City, and he even had his own show on Comedy Central called Why? with Hannibal Buress.
We start with a recent incident that really showcases his flair for the absurd.
As part of his current tour, The Hannibal Montanabal Experience, Buress had a few dates in Australia. While Down Under, he was interviewed on an entertainment/news program entitled, The Project. Mid-interview, Buress pulled out a children’s book saying he was really on the show to promote his new book. But it definitely ain’t his. It’s an AFL-themed book intended to help little children count to 15, with pictures of footballs and water bottles.
Buress then proceeded to read the whole thing from start to finish while the show’s hosts wavered between trying to interrupt him and stop the madness to just watching in astonishment. A little prank for the Aussies.
Taking it back a few years. Did you know Buress performed at one of Insane Clown Posse’s Gathering of the Juggalos? He details the experience in an interview with Minneapolis City Pages. He talks about the uncertainty he felt as his time slot approached, watching previous acts getting debris thrown at them, and the utter debauchery he witnessed. But after all was said and done, it was a good experience. He got paid well and he’d do it again. Of course, that was back in 2011, and we all know how time can change things.
Going even further back, what do you think Buress called one of the most obnoxious things he’d ever done in an interview with NPR? Simply stopping by his sister’s house unannounced. Of course, he was trying to stay with her indefinitely, suddenly moving from Chicago to New York to further his comedy career. And he only had about $200 to his name. And his sister had a daughter that wasn’t even a year old at the time. And he was too cocky to apologize. OK, we guess that would be defined as obnoxious.
Bringing things up to modern times. Buress is a co-host on The Eric Andre Show. Though they’ll go into filming an episode with a basic structure, the show is mostly improvised. If you’re a fan, this may come as no shock. But what’s interesting is that sometimes they’ll interview a guest for up to 45 minutes, and only about a minute of that will make the final cut. In another Minneapolis City Pages interview, Buress says the editors of the show “find the funny and cut it down.”
And about those ballet dancers we mentioned at the beginning of the article: Buress sources them locally wherever he’s performing. That must be quite a change of pace for the ladies in tutus.
We hope this paints an interesting portrait of the Charleston Comedy Festival co-headliner. Or at least gives you some info for your next game of trivia. The best way to figure out if you like the guy? As Buress said in that 2011 Minneapolis City Pages interview, “Go watch a clip online and decide whether or not you want to go. The stand-up itself is the pitch.”