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Hannibal Buress talks about his new stand-up hour and his Chicago roots

Written by
Grace Perry
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Chicago-born comedian Hannibal Buress has always been a favorite of ours at Time Out Chicago, but over the past few years he’s become a national star. Known for his work on Broad City, 30 Rock, SNL and his current stint as Eric Andre’s sidekick on Adult Swim’s The Eric Andre Show, (oh, right, and the whole Bill Cosby thing) Buress always has new work brewing. The deliberate, highly observant stand-up has always found comedy in day-to-day interactions—but now, those interactions involve, well, his fame. Needless to say, it's often strange being Hannibal Buress.

We caught up with Hannibal in anticipation of his upcoming tour, The Hannibal Montanabal Experience, which stops at the Chicago Theatre on September 14.

You’ve got a couple films in post-production, had a couple specials that came out this year, plus Broad City. Is it fair to say that stand-up is your biggest passion?

Yeah, cause it’s the thing where I have the most control. I can do it when I want to do it and where I want to do it. If I’m on someone else’s TV show I could suggest it but it’d be outrageous—I can’t say, “Hey, how about we move the beginning part to the very end and see how that goes?” But with my stand-up I can do that.

Tell us about your new tour, The Hannibal Montanabal Experience.

You know, whenever I’m doing a new hour it’s kind of a snapshot of where I am and who I am as a person at that moment. We’ve got some video stuff in there, incorporating some more multimedia. I’m talking about this stupid election, things that happened, just telling stories. I gave a speech at my high school’s graduation and that was pretty crazy. We’re gonna shift as a show and as we travel more, but it’s a lot about sex.

How many nights a week are you performing when you’re not on tour?

It varies. Some weeks I might go up five nights and some I might just go up two and watch stuff and hang out. I also do see the value of just being out and experiencing stuff and watching other art and seeing music and a movie or just talking to people and getting inspired by that, too. They say if you’re into weight lifting—like, if you do weight training one day, you should do cardio or take the day off the next day to let your muscles recover. I think the same is true with me and comedy.

What’s your writing process typically like?

Sometimes I sit down and write, sometimes something just happens and it sticks with me and I go from there. So much of the humor comes from when I’m just out and about minding my own business. 

There’s so many different levels of reactions I get from people. Some people are like, “Holy shit!” and some people are like [thinking] “Um, um, um…” And then some people just say facts, and I don’t know how to react to someone saying “You’re the dude on Adult Swim.” I’m just like, “Uh huh.” Some people will wonder why I’m somewhere—“Why are you here?” Uh, I don’t know, getting a sandwich like you? Like, some people think I’m not supposed to walk around. I’ve had people come up to me like, “So you’re just walking around and shit?” A lot of times people write the set-ups for me and I just write the punchlines. Or sometimes they are punchline. It is a pretty fascinating lens to see shit through. It’s very weird all the time.

You actually have a little bit of a history with Time Out Chicago, since we named you Chicago’s Funniest Person back in 2007. I’m curious if you can give us a little snapshot of what your life and career were like at that point, right before you moved to New York.

2007? I wouldn’t even describe what I had as a career!

Well, okay, what were you doing?

Stand-up in Chicago and… that’s pretty much it. I was definitely still living in my parents’ house. In 2008, off of the momentum of my Time Out Chicago award, I was able to move into a place in Logan Square with no roommates—pre-hip Logan Square. 

It must be amazing to come back to your hometown and play such a historic theater.

I remember walking past [the Chicago Theatre] early on when I started out, and thinking how cool it would be to play here. So to play it is great. The marquee is fucking beautiful. It’s dope to see your name up there and “SOLD OUT.” It feels good.

What’s on the Hannibal Burress tour of Chicago?

I would go to Allende, this Mexican joint, it’s my favorite Mexican food. That’s where I went before I came back to my hotel last night. 

Something weird happed at Allende last night. So I go in, and there’s only a few people there, I go in and I go straight to the bathroom, then I come out and there’s these two taller women with those short shorts on. One of them said deadpan to me, “He’s like, famous or something”— and I’m like, why’d you say it like that? That’s weird.

Lincoln and Ilana broke up last season on Broad City—are you going to be coming back?

I don’t know, I don’t write on that show!

What’s the future of Lincoln? We gotta know!

I don’t know! You’ll find out when Ilana or Abbi books a show in Chicago and you interview them. Yeah, I think Lincoln is coming back. I don’t know if I’m supposed to say that. I don’t know. Yeah, he is. 

Is there any part of you that’s the Al Dente Dentist in real life?

No, not at all! I haven’t cooked at my New York apartment once. Not once in six years. 

Any chance we’ll have a Hannibal/John Mulaney/Amy Schumer pop-up Christmas Eve show to look forward to this year?

Maybe. I’m trying to think of where I was Christmas Eve last year. I think I was out of town. Cause she did do something last year, right?

Yeah, she and Mulaney did a couple shows over at Constellation.

Yeah, okay. Oh yeah, my sister moved to Phoenix, so we were all in Phoenix for Christmas.

Well, we hope you’re back here this December.

You know what? Probably not. I think I’m going to go somewhere warm again, it’s really nice!

You don’t want to be in Chicago in December, Hannibal? We can’t believe it.

If I don’t have to… you gotta break it up, you know? If I have time to do half and half, maybe. Or two-thirds somewhere warm, one third Chicago. No, 27 days warm and New Years Eve—nope, just two days in Chicago in December. That’s it.

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