A Chat with Hannibal Buress

Hannibal Buress is a comedian from Chicago with a full TV resumé: He wrote on 30 Rock and Saturday Night Live, has a role in Comedy Central’s Broad City, is the cohost of The Eric Andre Show on Adult Swim, and stars in four specials on Netflix.

But Buress still hits the road for stand-up, and his latest tour, The Hannibal Montanable Experience, comes to the Old National Centre in Indianapolis on October 1. His style is marked by off-beat timing and esoteric musings. Paste magazine called him “the undisputed king of rap and masturbation jokes,” after his second Netflix special, Live From Chicago. He ignited the Bill Cosby scandal with a joke in 2014.

Since the success of Live From Chicago, Buress has progressed as a comedian. His flow has gone from an awkward drag to an eager anticipation. His most recent Netflix special, Hannibal Takes Edinburgh, is an interesting look at his life on the road and how a month of the same show over and over again can wear on a performer’s psyche.

In a recent interview with The Campus Citizen, he gave his current tour an 88 out of 100 rating and hinted that it will be his last for a little while. More from the interview:

How’s the tour going?

The tour’s been going well, man. It’s been fun.

You just finished a run of shows with Eric Andre—how was it as a performer? You’d back away when Eric was doing the crazier stuff [on The Eric Andre Show]. What’s it like to perform in that sort of circus?

It’s tight. When he does the crazier stuff, I just back away until it calms down, and when it calms down, I step back up. My jacket is too expensive—I can’t get that kind of stuff [like ranch dressing, milk, and vomit, for example] on my jacket. It’s fun though, man. People really enjoy it. It’s a much different environment than my stand-up shows, obviously, but it’s fun to be a part of.

What’s the strangest stuff you saw?

Yeah, it gets pretty weird. It’s the people chugging the ranch—it gets pretty disgusting. I’m always shocked that people are willing to do it. We’ve got the contest where I pick a person and he picks a person to chug a bottle of ranch ’til they throw up, and lots of people are willing to jump up there and … good for them, you know?

Years ago you were on Letterman telling a joke about being pulled over in Indiana and how you didn’t want to spend more time than necessary driving across the state.

It was more about that Interstate 37 is a speed trap for some of the smaller cities, and I think that’s a pretty weak way for them to gain revenue. Sitting around and having someone go through at 10 [mph] over—it’s really annoying.

Being from Chicago, is there anything special for you about Indianapolis?

No. There’s nothing. Nothing really jumps out. Nothing culturally really jumps out. The people I’ve met at the shows has been cool. What is the place with the college kids? Broad Ripple? That place seems like it might be happening, but I’ve never really dug into Indianapolis. People I’ve met there have been cool, but nothing about the town jumps out to me.

How did you get your start in comedy?

I started in college. I wanted to try it out, and I went with a friend who did it and saw an open mic and decided to try it the next time.

How’d that go?

It went alright. It was an open mic. I did it well enough to keep me doing it.

Do you prefer writing for shows or stand-up?

I prefer stand-up just because it’s mine. You make way more money. You get to travel. I use my own ideas about my stuff. It’s better energy for me. It’s what I started doing: I got the opportunity to write for shows because of my stand-up, not the other way around, so I prefer stand-up.

Do you enjoy hecklers? You always seem to be able to shut people down.

No. It’s not a tough thing to handle, but I’d rather people shut up and watch the show. I’ve been doing this for 14 years, and dealing with hecklers is an easy thing to do. I’d rather say my ideas and keep it moving. It’s annoying to have to try to control the crowd.

Do you see yourself trying another TV show?

Yeah, after the tour I’m going to start looking at developing a TV idea.

What’s the hardest part of touring?

The travel can wear you down, being away from your friends. It could be way worse. You have to enjoy it and keep perspective. Being away is tough, to try to eat well and stay in shape with that sort of schedule, but yeah, I’m not going to be touring that much for a while, so I’ve just got to knock it out now, and then I’ll be done with it for a long time. Yeah, it’s got its ups and downs, but it could be way worse. There are way worse jobs I could have.

You responded to someone on Twitter [who asked you] to rank your comedy show and you gave it a 1.5 out of 100.

That was a joke. I was being sarcastic.

What would you actually give it?


Who were your influences growing up?

[Dave] Chappelle, Chris Rock, Bill Burr, [George] Carlin, Patrice O’Neal, The Fresh Prince of BelAir, Martin, Animaniacs.

Information and tickets available here.