Don’t Forget His Name: An Interview With Hannibal Buress
Hannibal Buress is a man who is serious about his comedy and his career – he used to write for Saturday Night Live, and is now writing for 30 Rock. He just released a new album of stand-up called My Name is Hannibal, which has caused a number of laughter outbreaks in the office, but if you want to see his jokes live and in person, check out his weekly free show at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn each Sunday. And seeing how we now all know where he lives, let’s drop off a jar or two of pickles while we’re in the neighborhood!
How does it feel to have a CD out? Have you done anything fun so far to celebrate the release?
It feels good to have a CD. I was really nervous about putting it out and the release was about 6 months later than the CD should have come out because I was delaying it a bit. But I feel like it came out at a perfect time. The reception that it’s been getting has been awesome and it makes me excited to work on a new hour of stand-up. I had a CD release party and show at the Knitting Factory on Aug 8th and it was a blast.
Do you think having your jokes set into a record will affect your live stand-up? (On one side, I can see people coming to your shows expecting to see those jokes, so you need to perform the “hits”, just like a band needs to perform the singles from their record, but on the flip side you want to give people jokes they’ve never heard to get the big “I never expected that punch line!” laugh.)
Well when I do 15 minute sets in NYC, I usually don’t do any material from the CD. I might do a couple bits from it tops. But when I’m on the road headlining and doing 45-60 minutes I end up doing a bunch of stuff from the CD. I worry about it but then I realize that probably 95% of the crowd hasn’t even heard my CD. When I go to cities know I usually have a handful of people that are big fans but most of the crowd isn’t really familiar with me at all. I just try to put on the best show I can so if the new stuff that I’m doing works then I do that, if not, I go into older material.
How many records do you need to sell to be able to afford pickles for your sandwiches instead of flicking pickle juice onto them? And doesn’t that make your sandwich soggy?
I have to say that I really don’t like the tone of this question and I would like the name and contact info of the person who submitted it. What if I don’t like the whole pickle on my sandwich and I just like the flavor? What if I ate all of the pickles as soon as I bought them? What type of person would flick so much juice on a sandwich that it would get soggy? Wouldn’t I be flicking it on the meat anyways? So how would the sandwich get soggy? Get those answers back to me ASAP.
Your mother seems to give you good advice about what (white baby) sales to not pass up on. Has she ever offered up any other great advice that you can share with us?
My mother never really talked to me about white baby sales. I made it up. It would’ve been great if she really did. Her latest advice was to not do email interviews or go on tangents when asked about pickle juice. But I don’t listen to her.
I’ve been to your weekly comedy show at Knitting Factory a few times – how did you get hooked up with that?
I did opening night at the Knitting Factory last year. I performed along with Les Savy Fav and the Knitting Factory asked if I wanted to do a comedy show there and since the place is two blocks from my house, I said yes.
How to you pick the comedians that perform on the show?
Is this question written by a comedian that’s looking to get booked? I pick comedians that I’ve done shows with and enjoy. Also I’ve booked every comedian that’s beaten me at arm wrestling.
Who has been your favorite comedian on the show so far?
Chris Rock. He popped in unexpectedly and that was my first time seeing him live. It was really amazing.
In addition to putting out a record and booking a comedy show, you’re also a writer for Saturday Night Live. How’s that going?
I did write for SNL for a season it was a great time. It was a great learning experience and a lot of fun. I’m writing on the upcoming season of 30 Rock this year.
When is Louis C.K. going to stop fucking around and give you bigger parts on Louie? That man must be afraid of your talent.
A few other people have asked me this. I was really happy to be in the show, he didn’t have to put me in at all, I guess.
What would you imagine an un-famous lizard would taste like if you actually cooked one up and ate it?
Everything tastes delicious if you cook it right. I would sautée.
We’d like to thank Hannibal Buress’ for taking time to talk to us. His new comedy album My Name Is Hannibal is in stores now!