Q&A: Hannibal Buress, stand-up comedian
Hannibal Buress is quickly taking over the comedy world. The stand-up comedian has branched out from opening slots to a headlining show, on top of acting on Comedy Central’s “Broad City” and in the Seth Rogen-Zac Efron comedy “Neighbors.” The Eagle’s Tam Sackman sat down with Buress to talk about…some really weird stuff.
Eagle: I was watching this bit that you did about parades on Fallon. I wanted to know if there was a holiday dedicated to you, how would people celebrate it?
Hannibal Buress: If there was a holiday dedicated to me, people would celebrate it with lots of music…music everywhere… and lots of sandwiches. There would be a Stevie Wonder appearance and if it was my holiday, it would be a day that he reveals to the public that he isn’t actually blind.
E: Every year? He reveals that he isn’t blind every year on this holiday?
HB: Well the first one he would… Actually no. Yeah! Every year he would do that. And everyone would be like “We know, Stevie!” and he’d be like, “I gotta do it. It’s the holiday. I know I did it last year, but it’s part of the holiday.” And everyone would walk around with their own drum set and make noise.
E: Who do you think are the worst types of people?
HB: The worst types of people, I guess, are the ones who have committed genocide. If you killed lots of people, that pretty much makes you the worst. So yeah, people who commit genocide are the worst types of people.
E: What’s the worst joke that you’ve ever heard?
HB: I don’t know. A lot of people at open mics, their jokes don’t work out. I can’t say the worst one, because they don’t usually stick. I mean, if they weren’t funny, then it was just kind of words. I don’t know if that even makes it a joke. It’s an attempt at a joke. Sometimes jokes don’t work. If you’re bad at jokes, it doesn’t mean you have to write a new one or fix that one.
E: Your character Lincoln on Comedy Central’s “Broad City” is defined by the fact that he is really nice. Do you think that you’re nice?
HB: I’m nice. I’m not nicer than Lincoln, though. I’m a solid dude. But no, I’m not as nice. I try to be nice. I’m trying to become more patient with people. I would say I’m nice, but I’m not that dude at all.
E: What’s your favorite conspiracy theory?
HB: My favorite conspiracy theory is the theory that Stevie Wonder is not actually blind. There’s a lot of evidence. There’s some video of him doing stuff that blind people can’t do, like catch a mic stand that’s falling, he goes to basketball games all the time. I’m on board with this theory.
E: Do you like being famous?
HB: I wouldn’t say I’m famous. I’ve got some notoriety and a fan base. But I wouldn’t say that it’s an issue for me to walk down the street or be at a restaurant in peace. People know me. And with that, there’s aspects that I enjoy and some that I don’t enjoy. The fact that people want to come to my shows and see my work, I get to meet a lot of people that I admire and go to awesome events sometimes because of my work in comedy. I enjoy parts of it. I’m not…I wouldn’t say I’m famous. I would say, if fame was on a grade scale, I think I’m like a D .
E: You think you’re a D lister?
HB: Okay, so the president of the United States— one of the most famous people in the world right? So Barack is a 10 in fame. So comparatively I would say I’m like a .9. With Will Smith being an 8.
E: Has stand up made you a better actor? Was it hard to transition between the two?
HB: I’m still kind of learning to act on the job when I’m acting. It’s still very new to me. I’m getting better at it. Stand up definitely emboldens my acting, especially in how I deliver jokes. It’s kind of how I got all of my acting opportunities— through stand up. It got me the jobs and it helps me while I’m delivering.
E: Have you ever seriously considered buying something from an infomercial?
HB: I actually bought something from an infomercial once.
E: Yeah? What was it?
HB: I was drunk in my hotel room in Cincinnati in 2010, I think. There was a commercial for this thing “Your Baby Can Read” and it was a program that made your kid read fast and young. So I bought it for my cousin’s kid, ‘cause I got so psyched. I don’t know what happened with it. But yeah, I bought something from an infomercial. “Your Baby Can Read.” I haven’t heard much about it anymore. Not as much buzz.
E: Can that baby read now?
HB: Yeah, it can read now. But I don’t know if that baby could read back then. Because it was a baby.
E: Can you tell me a little bit about opening for Aziz Ansari on his stadium tour? And how that compares to the theater shows you’ve been doing now. If you like the bigger scale or the more intimate setting.
HB: I only did a couple of them down in D.C. It was cool to do those shows. It was a huge arena, so it was a big crowd of 10,000 people. It felt great to do stand up in that type of space. That’s not normal for stand up. There’s not that many guys out right now that are doing that. It was definitely fun. I’m an opener, so I’m only doing 15 minutes on those shows. My shows, I’m doing a longer amount of time and I’m playing venues where I can fill up….Hopefully. It’s a lot of fun. Those shows hopefully help bring people to my shows. People find out about me that didn’t before and then they want to see me do my thing. It’s pretty cool.
E: If you were doing a giant stadium tour, who would open for you?
E: If your name wasn’t Hannibal Buress, and you heard of a person named Hannibal Buress, what do you think they would look like?
HB: Ku Klux Klan outfit.
E: Is there anything that you want college students (or anyone else) to know before coming to your show?
HB: College students — keep doing it. Keep working hard. Good luck. Get money. Come to my show.
Hannibal Buress will be at the Lincoln Theatre on Oct. 17 for two shows. Tickets are $29.50.