Hanging with Hannibal

Hannibal Buress stops by CU for some laughs

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Comedian Hannibal Buress brings his comedy to Colorado.
Courtesy of Hannibal Buress

Everybody kind of stinks, in my opinion. I don’t really like anyone,” says comedian Hannibal Buress.

As most comedians do, Buress draws from his daily life for new material. And with constant, inescapable political coverage, this year’s election cycle is proving to be fertile ground for comedy.

“This one seems really dragged out,” he says. “I don’t know if it’s because I’m older and I’m following it a bit more heavily than I did in other cycles or if this one is such a fucking circus that it’s easy to make a lot of other jokes.

“Hillary has a lot going on, Bernie is an old man, Cruz was born in Canada, and Trump has all the Trump stuff — everybody’s all over the place.”

He pauses. “There’s obviously other stuff wrong with Ted Cruz besides him being born in Canada, but I like to start with that,” he says with a laugh.

Buress has spent the better part of the last decade rising through the comedy ranks. He’s been consistently touring, nabbing headlining spots at major venues, and recently released his fourth album and Netflix special, Comedy Camisado. Buress brings his comedic stylings to Denver on April 24 and to the University of Colorado Boulder on April 25.

Off stage, Buress is making a name for himself, with television roles in Broad City, The Eric and Andre Show, and even his own, albeit short-lived, Why? With Hannibal Buress. He also has roles in a slew of upcoming movies including Neighbors 2 and The Good Guys, plus he lent his chilled out, monotone voice to the animated Angry Birds Movie and The Life of Pets.

Buress’ comedy is quick and insightful, with a simplicity that sticks with you. He has that observational astuteness essential for comedy, and delivers it with a relaxed, yet easily excitable and sometimes confrontational, vibe. Experience and age have helped Buress evolve in his career, adding a sophisticated polish to his work.

“I’m not old, but I’m older,” Buress says. At 33, he’s been doing stand-up for almost 15 years.

“There’s a big difference — different in perspectives, different responsibilities, different things in life that I care about.

“Obviously, there’s a lot of trivial stuff scattered about my albums,” he says, probably referring to his alternative uses for pickle juice or hypothesizing which celebrities will die before him (watch out Will Smith).

“But as far as the real subject, or whatever’s really important to me over time, that’s what I try to cover — the stuff that’s interesting to me. I’ve gotten better, I’ve learned a lot and know what it takes to put together hours, and how to build bits and things that you just learn over time.”

With a busy schedule, it’s surprising Buress makes time for writing new material. In a digital age, where with the click of a button you can have a comedian’s entire repertoire, there’s pressure to stay fresh and ahead of yourself. But for Buress, it’s just a natural side effect of being a comedian.

“You don’t have to actively be doing stand-up to work on stand-up,” he says. “You kind of just sit and zone out and think,” he says. “I can put together different jokes in my head or material I’ve done, just by sitting around and figuring out connections with jokes. There’s a lot of downtime with movies and television, so there’s time to work on stand-up or research.”

Buress estimates his current show includes about 45 minutes of new jokes.

“For the most part, I like to focus on what’s exciting me now and trying to keep it fresh for myself and challenging myself also,” he says.
As of now, Buress is delicately balancing his comedy and acting career. But he’s not sure yet if the scales will ever tip completely in one particular direction

“There was a couple years ago if you asked me, I would have said I’ll always keep doing stand-up and going on tour,” he says. “But I don’t know. I like doing stand-up more than I like doing anything else. We’ll see. They don’t conflict with each other that much. I enjoy doing all of the work. For right now, stand-up is first priority.”

Regardless, it’s clear Buress has a long career ahead of him. His future plans include writing a starring role for himself in a movie, taking another stab at TV and eventually producing other projects to help launch people’s careers. But he’s confident everything will come in time.

“I’m just trying to do good work and have some fun.”

On the Bill: Hannibal Buress. 7:30 p.m. Sunday, April 24, 1621 Glenarm Place, Denver, 303-623-0106. 8 p.m. Monday, April 25, University Memorial Center, Glenn Miller Ballroom, 1669 Euclid Ave., Boulder. Tickets at hanibalburesspc.eventbrite.com.