Buress performing on July 29, 2012
February 4, 1983 |
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
|Residence||New York City, New York|
|Occupation||Actor, comedian, writer, producer|
|Medium||Stand-up, film, television|
|Genres||Observational comedy, black comedy, blue comedy, satire|
|Subject(s)||African-American culture, American politics, current events, everyday life, human sexuality, marriage, parenting, pop culture, race relations, racism, self-deprecation|
|Influences||Dave Chappelle, Patrice O’Neal, Chris Rock, Louis C.K., George Carlin, Richard Pryor|
I did not move to New York with a plan. The first time I moved to New York, I just popped up. My sister was living here in New York. I just popped up. She had her baby and a husband, and I just popped up. 'Hey, what's up? I got $200 and dreams. Let's do this.'
I did a 'Last Comic Standing' audition in 2006, where you're just performing for three people in a comedy club, in a big comedy club, and I remember them cutting me off, asking about my name in the middle of one of my jokes. Yeah, it's just real weird when you're doing stand-up in that type of sterile, unnatural setting.
I go to a lot of rap shows and sometimes take what they do from a performer's aspect, how they interact with the crowd. I always have a DJ with me on the road, as well as some dancers.
I just write and do what I think is funny. Sometimes, you do have it in your head about certain bits. There are certain jokes where I know if I did them in certain situations, it would irk people. There are times where I look at the news and see a story going on, and I'm like, 'Wow, if I tweeted this, I would get press if I wanted to.'
When people say, 'How did you start in comedy,' I say my family was kidnapped by ninjas when I was very young, and to get them released I had to do a killer five-minute set. And even after I did that, you know, I started doing comedy under tough circumstances, I still kept at it because I enjoyed it.
People like to compare something to something that they know. Even with Chris Rock, they say he's like Richard Pryor or Eddie Murphy.
Once you're in a room like '30 Rock,' it's a creative setting, so you write more even after you go home, just because you're still in that mode of coming up with jokes. So the job wasn't sapping standup jokes, but it was sapping stand up time and energy, and I wouldn't be able to travel as much.
Social media is interesting. It helps me connect with fans. It's immediate. It's a big part of my touring business – getting the word out via Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
Before I did comedy, I'd freestyle with all of my friends. In high school and into college, I recorded songs with my friends, not to perform but just to play for them. So I've had interest in music for a while. Early on, I'd host a lot of music open nights or hip-hop nights, so a lot of my early experience performing was around music.
I don't like to post fresh standup material, because I want to use it in a special. The stuff I like to post online I like to be off-the-cuff moments.
For me… you know, the most I've paid for a haircut was in Australia. Usually I go to a black barber or a Latino barber. I can't just go into Supercuts.
I had a sketch called 'Fedora Basketball,' which was about basketball players having to wear hats; in addition to scoring points, they have to make sure their fedoras don't fall off.
Dave Chappelle is one of my comedic inspirations. His perspective is crazy, and he's super sharp.
'SNL' is the first real job I've held for more than a month and a half.
I think people overplay the 'Saturday Night Live' schedule. I mean, yeah, it can be some late hours. But the late hours are usually only one or two nights out of the week. You might have a crazy six-day week, but you'll work three weeks, and then you get a week off work. I'd take most jobs if it was hard work and then I got a week off.
I don't seek out love or relationships, just because my schedule is crazy.
You forget that sometimes comedy is just a big night out for people. Almost every show, people come up to me and go, 'This is the first comedy show I've ever seen,' so you want to do well. If you do horribly at somebody's first time seeing live stand-up, well, you've not only tainted yourself, you've tainted a whole art form.
If I ever have downtime, I'm usually sitting in my place playing video games. Or eating sandwiches somewhere, or watching sports some place.
I'd like to be remembered as good person and as one of the best comedians of my generation.
I don't argue with people… if they say I'm not funny, they're right, for them.
I think one of my first jokes – in the black community, there's people who have jokes about skin tone. People like, 'You so black, you purple.' 'You so black, you gotta smile so we can see you at night.'
'SNL' doesn't have a traditional writer's room. On Monday, there's the pitch meeting with the guest, and I played that like it was stand-up.
I took an improv class in 2005 in Chicago at ComedySportz, which was short-form, more of a games-based improv. I remember it being real fun and helping with my stand-up. If I did an improv class, and then I did stand-up later, I felt looser on stage and more comfortable.
I didn't audition for 'SNL.' I sent in a tape to 'SNL' the year before I started writing there, but I got the job there through doing stand-up on Fallon.
When people go through something rough in life, they say, 'I'm taking it one day at a time.' Yes, so is everybody. Because that's how time works.
Even on TV appearances or big shows, I don't know if I've ever been as nervous as I was my first time doing stand-up. I just remember getting offstage and sitting down, and my right knee was just shaking from the adrenaline.
Gibberish rap is – I freestyle all the time, just hangin' out with friends. And sometimes when I'm freestyling, I'll lose my flow, you know, but I'll still wanna – I don't wanna just stop rapping because I lose my flow. So I'll just put in nonsense words till I can bring in regular words again.
A lot of comedians do bits where they say, 'I was listening to this song, and this person said this, and you know how they say that?' And I thought it would work better if I actually had a DJ put that song lyric right there. It makes it more dynamic, and it's more energetic.
My second year of college, I started performing comedy at an open mic. It was good to do open mics with the kids. It's a good, safe spot to start, you know?
I could maybe coach kids' basketball. I know enough about basketball where I feel like I could coach 12-year-olds pretty effectively.
I don't know if I have a 'Greatest Album Ever.' I really liked 'The Blueprint' by Jay-Z. The production on that album was really great. 'All I Need' was the first song I used for walk-on music in 2002 for my second time ever on stage, so that means a lot to me.
I like getting 'Times' articles online. But the actual paper just has too many words.
I'd like to get more bit-acting roles. I don't know if my talent would allow for a long dialogue, but I could definitely knock out three lines. I'd kill it.
I haven't really tried to write a movie. It's tough to get into that mode.
I never have written a movie, but there are some bad movies out there. I can make one. I definitely want to get into that because that's how you, at my level, would get a lead in a movie – by writing a low budget thing for myself. So I gotta get to it.
I remember 'Def Comedy Jam' being a big deal and kids talking about it in school, but it was never, 'I want to do that.'
I'm doin' something different. I mean, I talk a little bit about race and interracial dating, but it's not the heart of my act. I just try to do what I think is funny; there's no huge message or through line.
Carbondale, Ill. is where I went to college, and it's where I first started putting on shows.
I'm in awful shape. I'm trying to get in better shape. My girlfriend, she's in good shape. She gives me health tips sometimes, like, 'Hannibal, you're going to die.' Stuff like that.
'Inside Out' – that was a really good movie. That's the first animated movie I saw since 'The Lego Movie.'
I think it's a tough transition. It's easy to go from comedian to rapper, but to go from rapper to comedian is tougher.
I skipped kindergarten because I was reading at a pretty high level. That's a weird and cocky thing to say, but I was real sharp, and I knew that early on.
I need to have something else going on. I'm able to write a lot if I have an episode of 'Friday Night Lights' going on my computer.
In the future, I want to do an action movie! I'm going to get in shape, get ripped, and have my Chris Pratt transformation. And then become a movie star like that.
I just wear black and gray all the time. If you Google Image me, you'll just see a bunch of black and gray. It's simple. If I like a shirt, I'll buy six or eight of them, wear them back-to-back, and just wait for somebody to say something. 'That's the same shirt you wore yesterday.' 'Yeah, but this one is fresh.'
My dad named me after Hannibal Barca, the Carthaginian general who attacked Rome. But nobody knows about him.
There's been times where I sold the place out, and I walked in and the guy's like, 'Uh, ID?' 'No, you can't ID me, man. I just sold this place out.' People are just doing their jobs, but I think if you're working the door at a venue where there's a headliner, you should at least be like, 'OK, this is the dude.'
Actors, you have to wait for people to give you work, or you have to make your own stuff. But standup, I could just say, 'I want to do standup in 30 minutes,' and I can go do standup. Or I could just say, 'I want to do standup in a few weeks in this city.'
I like to drive nice cars; since I live in New York, and I don't drive there, it's a novelty to be on the road and drive and listen to my music.
I used to have costumed characters come out, like SpongeBob. It's just fun to make it into this minor event, just to surprise people and experiment and be weird and just have fun with it. I've done just the hour stand-up, and that's fun, but the other stuff makes it fun for me and gives me something to react to and bounce off of.
The ultimate thing is creating your own stuff and making projects for yourself. That's what Seth Rogen does. He's writing and producing a lot of the movies that he's the lead in.
My first time on TV doing stand-up, I actually did this show in Holland called 'The Comedy Factory' hosted by Jorgen Raymann. It was in 2006 in Holland. It was amazing. I had only been doing stand-up for four years, and I booked that gig through the Just For Laughs Montreal festival, and they flew me out and put me up.