The Hannibal Buress Interview
He’s done stand-up on pretty much every late night TV show currently in existence, made appearances on Louie, 30 Rock, and The Eric Andre Show, and written for both 30 Rock and Saturday Night Live. His name is Hannibal Buress and he is performing at Mr. Smalls Thursday night. We caught up with Buress last night from Chicago before a pre-show sound check.
Isaac Kozell: Did you watch the Oscars?
Hannibal Buress: No.
IK: You said it with such…like, “Who cares?”
HB: I do shows, man. I’m not gonna not do comedy to stay home and watch the Oscars. I mean, it’s cool and congrats to people that win. I saw several of the movies that were nominated. I just don’t feel like the Oscars themselves are something that you’re going to look back on in twenty years and say, “Oh man, remember that Oscars?” You’re not going to say, “Yeah, I was sitting on the couch watching it, saying some snarky tweets about Anne Hathaway.” I’d rather do shows. I do a weekly show every Sunday. People said, “You’re going against the Oscars?” Yeah. The only thing you can’t go against as a comedy show producer is the Superbowl.
IK: What’s the best thing about touring?
HB: Well, it’s my job, so it’s nice to work and make a living. I’m usually only going to cities once a year, or once every 18 months. People are usually excited. It’s nice to show people the new material.
IK: Let’s flip it. What’s the worst part of being on the road?
HB: It’s tough being away from home sometimes. If I’m gone for a while it’s tough with family and friends, just trying to have a sense of normalcy. It can get a little draining, especially if I’ve only been home for a couple of days and then have to head right out again. But once I get there and get in front of the crowd it’s fun.
IK: When you’re at home are you kind of a chill, close knit circle kind of guy, or are you more of an outgoing socialite?
HB: I don’t really hit up “club” clubs, if that’s what you’re asking. I got my few friends that I’ll go out and hit the comedy spots with.
IK: How many nights a week do you do comedy?
HB: As many as I want. It depends on what I’m working on but usually I go up every night, once or twice a night, unless something else is going on that I really want to go to, like a concert or a basketball game.
IK: I saw that Danny Brown tweeted you about Animal Furnace (Buress’ new album and upcoming Comedy Central special) the other day. Has there been anyone that you have been starstruck by that you’re just really excited that they’re into your shit?
HB: Someone told me that Scarlett Johansson was a fan. I met her and she said she was. That was kinda unexpected. But yeah, there’s a lot of rappers that I didn’t expect. Different people. You really never know who’s watching your shit. It’s always a nice surprise. Somebody sent me that tweet of Danny Brown’s and I was like, “Aw shit!” because I like his music. I’ve seen him live a couple of times.
IK: This is just my opinion, so correct me if I’m wrong: It seems like you’re on the cusp of breaking big. You’re getting more well known. You’ve been on the late-night shows. People have seen you on 30 Rock. Like, “Hey, there’s that one guy!” But I don’t know if you’ve cracked the mainstream consciousness yet. Does that sound fair?
IK: So how do you define success? And what is the next step for you if you want to break into a bigger arena?
HB: There are levels of success. It’s not one thing. I’m successful. I’m doing pretty well. Like Mr. Smalls, that seats 300. It’s a nice sized venue. But next time I come to Pittsburgh I would like to do the 800 seat theater, or something like that. Or, instead of one show at Mr. Smalls, maybe two sold out shows. It’s about progression and getting what I want out there.
IK: Mr. Smalls is traditionally a music venue. Is there a difference between the show you’ll do there versus the show you do at a comedy club?
HB: When I do a music venue, I try to add elements to the show. I’ll have a DJ playing before the show. I’ll do some jokes about music and the DJ will play clips. I’ll do a song at the end of the show. There are a lot of different elements. The stand up is still the same but I add stuff to the show that I wouldn’t normally do at a comedy club.
HB: Yeah. Wiz Khalifa and his new baby are going to Skype into the show.
IK: For real?
Catch him live tomorrow night at Mr. Smalls. 7PM door time, 8PM show. Tickets are still available, but they don’t have many left, so cop them while you still can! If you happen to miss the show, keep tabs on Hannibal via his website.