"How do you define "break," asks comic Hannibal Buress over the phone. The Chicago native has been making his rounds for over a decade and is easily one of the top comics currently performing.
Buress has, in so many ways made the world of comedy feel a lot looser with his casual style, getting his start in the small college town of Carbondale, Illinois where he attended Southern Illinois University. "It was just easier there. There wasn't a lot of opportunities, but what I got was more quality work. You just needed to be doing something. If you promoted properly, it did well. I would get press by calling the local paper and asking for them to write about something. It was beneficial to start in that environment."
As a writer for Saturday Night Live, and co-host of The Eric Andre Show, as well as a regular on Broad City, Buress has stretched his wings as a comic. With multiple comedy albums and a Netflix special Comedy Comisado, he seems to have an ability to do it all. "I don't know what my trajectory is. I enjoy touring and doing stand-up, and I've been doing more production. Just more projects from scratch and also doing the podcast."
His podcast, Handsome Rambler is one of the more entertaining podcasts available. Though he came late to the podcast game, he's had such guests as Jon Hamm, Sadie Dupuis, Lizzo and Open Mike Eagle. "The reason I did the podcast at first was I was getting ready to tour in 2016 (laughs) and I thought it would help sell more tickets. It helps to really get ideas out, the first ten episodes versus the last ten episodes, there's a different tone and style. It's just fun for me and who I have on. If I had dream guests, T-Pain would be fun cause' he's an auto-tune wizard. DJ Premiere had so much to say, it went on for an hour and change, so getting him for a second would be nice. Questlove with a drum machine, Dave Chappelle, someone with comedic instincts with musical talents."
When Buress was on the WTF with Marc Maron podcast, he referenced that the bulk of his audience was made up of white people. Though his last set in Houston felt more mixed in terms of who was in attendance. "It's still pretty white at my shows (laughs). It's not reflective of who I see, it is what it is with my shows."
That last Houston set was at Fitzgerald's a short time before allegations of racism came out about the club's owner, Sarah Fitzgerald. In today's polarized culture it seems like this could happen a lot, with a club owner spouting off racist rants, though Buress says it doesn't. "No, that's not regular. It doesn't happen often."
Recently, Buress teamed up to do an episode of Thrift Haul with Houston's Fat Tony for the Super Deluxe web channel. Prior to filming, Buress says he was familiar with the energetic and prolific rapper. "I'd met him a couple of times. I saw him at the Knitting Factory in NYC. He had that track "Home." That show is a simple idea, but it hasn't been done before. (laughs) I was about to voice my opinion. Nah, who cares if I spoil the results. I lost, but it wasn't fair. It was wrong. I think part of it was that I roasted Tony's outfit. I even asked if he could remain objective after saying his outfit was terrible."
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When Hannibal Buress started, it's been reported that he really studied comedy and stand-up when he began. He has one of the most organic deliveries when it comes to performing, and it feels like he just sees things and finds the humor in everything, over writing specific jokes. "I do it sometimes, I sit and I write. I don't do it as much as I should. Being out and seeing or hearing someone say something and it reminds me of a thought I had. Putting pen to paper, you can break down the elements."
As for this tour, it seems it's up in the air on what he'll actually do for these dates. "I'm deciding whether to record some of the shows for this tour. I'm wondering if it's too early and I don't know if I'll be locked in or not. I wanna' have a special in the next six months. I haven't played Houston since early last year, so I'll have new material and a good fun show."
You can stream the Handsome Rambler Podcast on Youtube or through Buress' own website. His Netflix special is still available to view through their site, and his comedy albums are available to stream on all platforms.You can catch Hannibal Buress in person when he performs at Revention Music Center, 520 Texas on Saturday September 15. The all ages show has no word of openers, though that may change. There are no cellphones or recording devices allowed for this performance, and all phones will be secured in Yondr pouches. Doors at 7 p.m.; tickets $39.25 to $49.25.