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Hannibal Buress talks Louis C.K., Chance the Rapper, 'The Eric Andre Show' vs. 'Saturday Night Live' and more

Seth Olenick



Variety named Hannibal Buress one of its 10 comics to watch back in 2010, and three years later, the laid-back, laconic comedian is having his busiest year yet.

The former Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock writer now co-hosts Adult Swim’s demented talk show parody The Eric Andre Show, which starts its second season in October. And following last year’s stand-up special Animal Furnace, Comedy Central has signed a development deal with him that includes a new special and role on their new series Broad City.

Like fellow former 30 Rock writer Donald Glover, who raps as Childish Gambino, Buress bridges the gap between comedy and hip-hop. He talks about Odd Future and Young Jeezy in his stand-up and co-directed Chance the Rapper’s Na Na music video.

Now he’ll perform at hip-hop station Wild 94.1’s Shut Up and Laugh comedy show on Friday at the Mahaffey with Bruce Bruce and DeRay Davis. In an interview, Buress discussed his comedic and musical influences, Chance the Rapper and more. Here are excerpts.

Your publicist said you’re filming in L.A. right now. What are you filming?

I’ve been working on some different movies and TV projects right now. I finished up season two of The Eric Andre Show, a movie called Flock of Dudes and a movie called Townies with Seth Rogen.
Are you playing more theaters like this St. Pete show nowadays or still mainly comedy clubs?
I do comedy clubs on the road, but also perform a lot at music venues and some theaters on my own. It’s nice, it’s a different energy. It’s not drink service. Comedy clubs, maybe you want drink service, but you can get distracted sometimes when people are getting their bills at the end of the show. So it is nice.

And after this, you’ll be heading out on Oddball Festival along with Dave Chappelle, Flight of the Conchords and much of modern comedy. What are you looking forward to on those shows?

It’s going to be fun, man. It’s Dave Chappelle and quite a few people that I know and respect, so I’m excited to work with them. Great venues — it’s going to be crazy.

Chris Rock once compared you to “if Steven Wright, Mos Def and Dave Chappelle had a baby.” Were those two comedians big influences of yours, or did you have different influences in stand-up initially?

I’m a huge fan of Chappelle, I love his comedy. Steven Wright, I didn’t watch that much of, but Patrice O’Neal, Chris Rock, Louis C.K., those guys.

You appeared on the first season of C.K.’s show Louie in a couple of episodes. How did you come to meet him?

I met Louis through Todd Barry — showed Louis a clip of mine. I did some shows opening for him and out of nowhere he just wrote me a part on the show, which was pretty cool.

Besides talking about them in your material, do any musicians influence your stage presence?

Not anybody specifically, I go to rap shows and all types just because there’s the element of showmanship that you get to watch, you just learn from and think about putting on a bigger show. That’s why I see shows in Las Vegas, those Cirque du Soleil shows. I mean, I can’t have the level of production of a Cirque du Soleil show, but it makes you think about the ways that you could step up.

What rap albums are you listening to this year?

Right now, Chance the Rapper’s good. You know, at first, I didn’t like the Yeezus album, but it took some time and it’s grown on me. What else is new this year? — some of the Mac Miller I like. Those three right now.

And you co-directed Chance the Rapper’s Na Na video. What was that experience like?
It was cool, man. He’s a real talented kid. It was a different experience for me because I’ve never done that. Luckily we just had a loose concept, and so we were able to have fun and make up it on the fly. It was real cool and everybody came together well.

How would you compare writing now on The Eric Andre Show to when you wrote on Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock?

Well, The Eric Andre Show stuff, I didn’t spend that much time in the writers’ room. I spent a couple of days and pitched some ideas. A lot of my stuff is done on set and it’s just a lot of improvising and coming up with stuff on the spot. So it’s a much different experience from Saturday Night Live, where you had a certain amount of sketches you’re supposed to write, where The Eric Andre Show, it’s coming up with stuff there.

You appeared in a movie just making its way down here, The Kings of Summer. How did you get involved in that and what was that experience like?

The director Jordan Voight-Roberts is an old friend. I actually auditioned for a different role — I auditioned for Alison Brie’s boyfriend, it was Eugene Cordero.  I auditioned for that role, didn’t get it, and they offered me the role as the bus driver. It was fun — it was one day of shooting. It was pretty hot that day, it was like 95 degrees or something in Ohio, so it was a bit of a struggle. But it was a fun time and the movie came together real good, so it was cool to see that process.

What else do you have coming up? 2013 seems like an especially busy year for you.

I’ll probably film my special in November or December. I’m working on Broad City with Comedy Central, so we’ll start filming that in September. Then just doing stand-up, The Eric Andre Show premieres in October, and that’s it.

-- Jimmy Geurts, tbt*

[Last modified: Monday, August 12, 2013 5:41pm]


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