Hannibal Buress is three things: 1. Funny; 2. Somewhat mysterious; and 3. Gradually becoming omnipresent.
The first part is pretty obvious: Buress—who grew up in Chicago and now calls New York City his home—has slowly been working his way through the comedy scene, honing his writing skills by working on Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock and premiering his own material on late night programs like The Late Show with David Letterman and Jimmy Kimmel Live! after putting out his debut album, My Name is Hannibal, in 2010. His observational humor comes more from the outrageous than it does the mundane, like when he was pitching his surrealistic, conceptual sketches to Lorne Michaels to virtually no response.
Yet while Buress is successful, he has taken a bit more of a personal approach with his comedy, offering anecdotes and observations, discussing his career but not as much his personal life (which, given the amount of oversharing that comedians tend to do these days—especially with the advent of social media—is highly noteworthy). His observations highlight his quirky worldview, whether it be the time that three (three!) Canadian police officers gave him a ticket for jaywalking to having to deal with the terrible wannabe journalists writing stories about him for their college newspapers that may or may not be accidentally racist.
These anecdotes in particular lead us to Hannibal Buress: Animal Furnace—Buress’ first full-length special on Comedy Central that just got released on CD & DVD—which helps prove the third point: he’s blowing up. Aside from the specials and his constant touring, Buress is also co-hosting the Eric Andre Show on Adult Swim, and—in the move that cements his status as a genuine star—is now answering PopMatters’ 20 Questions, here telling us how he writes better when watching Friday Night Lights, is responsible for making the best eggs in the world, and how he’d get a kick out of having a conversation with a drunken President Obama.
* * *
1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?
Do people cry while reading books? I guess so, since you asked me this. I’ve never cried from a book. I teared up a little while watching an episode of Friday Night Lights. No tears dropped, I composed myself.
2. The fictional character most like you?
I don’t know if he’s like me but I enjoy watching Boyd Crowder on Justified. He’s really intense and has a way of talking that I find really interesting. I’d like to be like him, without all of the murder.
3. The greatest album, ever?
Hannibal Buress: Animal Furnace, out now.
You know what, 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.
4. Star Trek or Star Wars?
I’m not passionate about either of these things. I’ve never seen Star Wars and I watched Star Trek a little as a kid but I was never super into it. I guess I have to say Star Trek just because I’ve seen it before.
5. Your ideal brain food?
For me to really get focused and write, 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.
6. You’re proud of this accomplishment, but why?
I’m proud to be a working a comedian and I’m really proud that I get to do what I love and travel the world because everyone doesn’t get to do that.
7. You want to be remembered for . . . ?
I’d like to be remembered as good person and as one of the best comedians of my generation.
8. Of those who’ve come before, the most inspirational are?
Dave Chappelle, Chris Rock, Patrice O’Neal, Louis CK.
9. The creative masterpiece you wish bore your signature?
Dave Chappelle’s For What It’s Worth. Dave is a next-level comedian and a genius.
10. Your hidden talents . . . ?
I usually bowl over 100. I can scat really well. (Both types of scat.)
11. The best piece of advice you actually followed?
The best piece of advice that was ever given to me was from my dad. He taught me how to make eggs perfectly. He said, “Always heat the pan a little bit before you put the butter in.” When I do that, the eggs don’t stick to the pan.” It was true. I make the best eggs in the world. THE WORLD.
12. The best thing you ever bought, stole, or borrowed?
I don’t think this is the best thing that I’ve bought but I appreciate my dresser. When I bought it, I thought that it would only serve it’s main function as a dresser, but it’s also my TV stand. I thought I would buy a real TV stand but it never happened. So now I find socks while I watch sports.
13. You feel best in Armani or Levis or . . . ?
I usually wear jeans and a button up shirt or a track jacket. I have lots of jeans but sometimes I end up wearing the same pair for two weeks straight and I don’t feel bad about it at all.
14. Your dinner guest at the Ritz would be?
I would definitely to have dinner with Barack Obama. I don’t know if I’d be at the Ritz. I’d probably go to a steakhouse or get street food. That would be dope to go to a bunch of food carts with him. I’d get him a bunch of tequila shots so he would open up. It would be amazing to talk to a drunk Obama, he would have some crazy stories.
15. Time travel: where, when, and why?
I would go 50 years into the future to see what cell phones will look like then. It would also be cool to see what happened to the environment and find out if Jesus has returned yet.
16. Stress management: hit man, spa vacation, or Prozac?
My stress management is to just put things in perspective. Whenever I find myself getting really stressed I realize that most of my problems are pretty trivial and it doesn’t mean anything.
17. Essential to life: coffee, vodka, cigarettes, chocolate, or . . . ?
None of things are essential to me. Coffee makes me poop. I like whiskey not vodka. I don’t smoke. Chocolate is alright. I love Nantucket Nectars Red Plum juice. It’s delicious and every store doesn’t have it. I’m glad this question was asked. I’m about to order a case of this right now.
18. Environ of choice: city or country, and where on the map?
I love Miami. I’m from Chicago and I live in NYC so I’m a big city guy.
19. What do you want to say to the leader of your country?
Buy my CD.
20. Last but certainly not least, what are you working on, now?
My first hour-long comedy special Hannibal Buress: Animal Furnace was released on DVD and CD earlier this month.
I co-host the Eric Andre Show on Adult Swim.
I’m also working on being a better person and friend.
We all know how critical it is to keep independent voices alive and strong on the Internet. Please consider a donation to support our work as independent cultural critics and historians. Your donation will help PopMatters stay viable through these changing and challenging times where costs have risen and advertising has dropped precipitously. We need your help to keep PopMatters strong and growing. Thank you.