Arts & Culture » Culture

A chat with Hannibal Buress

Stand-up sneak attack



With comedy's popularity growing exponentially, it still seems like Detroit is not much a destination for stand-up comedians. However, one of the best in the scene right now, Hannibal Buress, is no stranger to Detroit. In fact, his upcoming show at the Royal Oak Music Theatre will be his third appearance in metro Detroit this year. Fresh off of the Oddball Comedy Festival, on which he appeared on the main stage, Buress is embarking on the Comedy Camisado Tour.

Earlier this year, he released his third album, Live From Chicago, along with a successful Comedy Central special. Aside from his rather rigorous tour schedule, Hannibal is also the co-host of the insanely weird The Eric Andre Show, which enters its third season on Adult Swim in November. Next year will see the release of the comedy film Flock of Dudes, in which Buress plays a character named "Pussypop."

Hannibal isn't just a good comic because of his unique voice and perspective. A huge reason so many people are falling in love with him is the way he approaches stand-up. For a lot of comedians, insecurity lies just beneath the surface and stand-up is a search for validation from the audience. For Buress, attention from the audience is still very much desired, but it's the thrill of performing that urges and inspires him.

Hannibal Buress is performing at the Royal Oak Music Theatre on Saturday, Oct. 11. Recently, he spoke to us about his creative process and jumpsuits.

Metro Times: Are you performing new material on this tour?

Buress: I don't know, man. I don't know what the jokes are gonna be. I might just do my first album. That's what rappers are doin'. Rappers are saying, "It's the 20-year anniversary of my album. I'm just going to perform that." So, maybe I'll do that. When did my first album come out? Four years ... It's the four-year anniversary. So I'm going to go do all these jokes that are not even relevant to my life anymore. I'm gonna do 20 minutes about having a roommate. I'm gonna do stuff about writing at Saturday Night Live, but currently like, "Oh, man. It was crazy," and about cast members that left already. I'll talk about them with the stories being like, "Yeah, so I saw Sudeikis in the hallway." Just shitty stuff like that.

MT: A lot of bands do tours where they perform a classic album of theirs. 

Buress: I don't know. It's just a different thing. With comedy, it's been said over and over. There are some people who want to hear jokes again, or maybe they've never seen the joke live. They've heard it on a CD or watched it on a special, but then there's definitely the more discerning comedy fan that wants to hear new material all the time. A lot of guys that are touring heavy, Louie [C.K.] and [Bill] Burr and Aziz [Ansari] and a couple other guys who turn over material pretty fast have that standard.

MT: You hear about Demetri Martin doing an hour and then going out and taking requests as his encore?

Buress: I've done that before, where I've done older bits at the end, or let people request bits, but I realized I don't know how to do some of those bits anymore. Especially if it's a story that I was telling a couple years ago, it's tough to put yourself in the mode of a true story that's a few years old, because I've had people at the end say, "Do the jaywalking story!" and I'm like, "Uhh ... yeah, I was jaywalking and then a cop made me mad," and I'm just butchering my own bit. That's the trouble that comes with that sometimes.

MT: You have to remember the beats and cadence too.

Buress: Yeah, I've done it before and a lot of things get left out with that type of thing. There's a lot of small lines or you can tell the heart of the story, but if I'm telling a long story based on a request at a show, there's no chance of it being the best version.

MT: Can we talk about the suit you wore on the Oddball tour?

Buress: The jumpsuit? I just wanted to have a crazy outfit for tour. I wore a shiny suit last year. Well, I wore shiny pants and had the ballerinas bring out the jacket to complete the suit. I wanted something that popped onstage. These are big venues and it's on the screen. So, I wanted to have something that was visibly interesting. I hit up Emily Ting, she's the wardrobe person at The Eric Andre Show. I said, "I want to do something weird. I want to have a fun outfit for Oddball," and she sent me a few options and she also said there's this website where you can get your face printed on a jumpsuit. I said, "Alright, let's do that." I wanted to wear something crazy, and I got tired of it [laughs]. I wore it on Seth Meyers' show, and the last three dates of the tour, I didn't wear it. I wore jeans and a T-shirt and a blazer. It was fun while it lasted, but I think I gotta get a fresh jumpsuit. 

MT: Was it hot being onstage, outside in a jumpsuit?

Buress: No, I'm a warrior. So, I'm able to withstand the heat and the physical pressures that come from wearing a jumpsuit. I just got tired. The heat wasn't an issue because I'm a warrior and a physical specimen and I'm able to withstand those extreme conditions.

MT: Do you have a 5-year plan?

Buress: Yeah, I want to be a third-degree black belt in five years and I want to write a movie about that. I want to create my own hot sauce and barbecue sauce and make a documentary about that and that's it right there. The Kickstarter campaigns for all those projects are coming soon.

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