Hannibal Buress is an Emmy-nominated stand-up comic. He’s also an actor – his most famous role being an endearing, excessively relaxed dentist called Lincoln Rice on Broad City, the cult New York-based sitcom on Comedy Central. Buress is also the man who did a bit on Bill Cosby in 2014, which went viral and sparked interest in rape allegations that were previously not mainstream knowledge.
Buress delivers his jokes in the same rhythmic tone as his regular conversation – sometimes it’s difficult to tell if he’s kidding or not (a rumbling chuckle is one indication he’s joking around). Although, when he’s telling a story he takes on the voice and mood of different characters – often himself at an earlier time in his life, or someone else.
When we speak, he’s enjoying a rare break from touring. The previous week he criss-crossed America for his stand-up show the Hannibal Montanabal Experience, which is touring Australia in December.
“So I’m just relaxing now,” he says on the phone from his hometown, Chicago. He recently moved back there from New York.
“I got this building that has three apartments in it – I was going to put them on Airbnb but now I kinda, not overfurnished, but there’s one of them that is kind of nice now,” he says. “I was like, ‘Oh, it would be cool to have an arcade game in here’ and so there’s this big-ass arcade game with 600 games. So now I don’t want anyone else staying here. I think this is going to be my apartment now. And I just bought some DJ equipment.”
Buress’ DJ name is DJ Burger Feet, and his appearances tend to be at his own after-parties.
“When you get slightly famous you can be a DJ. I really just started doing it because we’d do after-parties every few shows when we travel, where instead of going to a bar, we set up a place,” he says. “One thing I found out, being at the after-party – if I’m DJing that kinda gives me something to do so I don’t have to talk to people.” He laughs. “It’s not that I don’t want to talk to people it’s just that, if you don’t have anything to do at your after-party, then you got to really talk to everybody.”
Buress is pretty famous now, and whether he’s in New York or Chicago, he’s stopped by people in the street.
“I go out to regular bars and just kick it because that’s also what I did before I was on television. I went to dive bars, hung out late and tried to talk to girls and get drunk. And I still do that shit. But now, the shit that was I doing a few years ago, which was normal shit – now I’ll be somewhere and [someone] will be like: ‘What are you doing here? Why are you here?’ Or I’ll be walking down a street, [and people will say] ‘You’re walking around and shit?’ Yeah, how the fuck do you think I’m supposed to get somewhere? People just have an idea of you and just get shocked and something weird happens to people’s brains. It’s not a judgement – because sometimes that shit happens when I see somebody.”
Buress says he mostly manages to keep his excitement in check around famous people, though sometimes it’s not possible.
“I’ve gotten to know [Dave] Chappelle over the past few years and done lots of shows with him, but before that, meeting Chappelle was crazy. I snuck into one of his shows years back … So twice a year I tell him, when I’m drunk: “Hey man I snuck into your show, and now we’re doing shows together man.” No matter who you are you got people that you’re fans of.”
“That’s one thing, that’s one of the benefits – besides the money and the women – is being able to work with people you admire or have a way for people that you admire to see your stuff; you find out people you’ve been a fan of are also a fan of yours. That’s cool.”
But that idea of “putting it out there” is what he enjoys most about the job.
“The grind of stand-up is tougher, which is why a lot of people that do stand-up and get shows then don’t go on the road anymore because they’re like, ‘fuck that, I’m about to chill here and do TV and get these checks.’ But the work itself is more fulfilling, just because it’s personal; it’s me telling stories. There’s this thing about connecting with people and adjusting and rewording and figuring out … how to weave stuff together and coming up with stuff in the moment.”
Buress is happy back in Chicago. He says he feels more mellow when he’s there, as opposed to New York. But there’s a caveat.
“As soon as it gets cold in Chicago I’m getting the fuck out of here. And going somewhere warm and chill.”
Australia is such a warm and chill place. He’s been here before, so he knows all about the 24-hour journey to get here from the States.
“I don’t really prepare,” he says about the flight. “I probably just wear some comfortable pants. And I probably have a couple of books I won’t get into. That’s what happens a lot of times when I have a long international flight. I’ve got these books – I’m about to read three books; I’m about to read about personal development, and philosophy and screen writing.
“Then I just watch three movies, drink and go to sleep.”
Hannibal Buress’s stand-up show Hannibal Montanabal Experience is playing at Hamer Hall on Friday December 2. You can [buy tickets here[(https://www.artscentremelbourne.com.au/whats-on/2016/comedy-cabaret/hannibal-buress?m=performances).