Busy Hannibal Buress brings laughs to Chicago with New Year's shows

  • Hannibal Buress, shown performing in October at Comedy Central's "Night of Too Many Stars: America Comes Together for Autism" event, brings his standup to Chicago this weekend.
Hannibal Buress, shown performing in October at Comedy Central's… (Getty Images )
December 25, 2012|By Julia Borcherts | For RedEye

Hannibal Buress has had a busy year—and shows no signs of slowing down.

The Chicago native, who has been hyped by Chris Rock and Aziz Ansari, currently co-stars on "The Eric Andre Show" on the Cartoon Network's Adult Swim. In May, he debuted a Comedy Central special, "Hannibal Buress: Animal Furnace," and he's just signed a deal with ABC to write and co-star in a comedy pilot. And he hosts a weekly stand-up show at The Knitting Factory in Brooklyn.

This weekend Buress returns to the Chicago area for six shows—three on New Year's Eve at Zanies in Old Town. RedEye chatted with the busy comic to find out more.

What's taking your attention right now that might make it into your stand-up shows at Zanies?
It's just talking about life; if you find it funny, then that’s what it is. Some people delve into political issues but for the most part. That's not my thing. I talk politics every now and then but I like to talk about dinner or what it’s like to be in a taxi drunk or things like that.

How did "The Eric Andre Show" come to be?
Eric had this project he put it together a few years ago when we were both living in New York. We shot a pilot that he funded on his own in a bodega in Brooklyn and then he started shopping it around and Adult Swim picked it up. It was something that was fun to do, but it didn’t seem like anything was going to happen [with] it for awhile ‘cause it had been a couple years. And then it came together and it’s been a lot of fun.

What's most interesting to you about working on that show?
I'm just reacting to what’s going on there; just counter to his energy—just to balance the show out—cause on the show, he’s very manic and crazy, just insane. He’s not like that in real life; he’s more chill.

You just signed a deal with ABC to write and star in a comedy pilot about a police officer in a small suburban community. Where did you get the inspiration for that?
It’s loosely based on my cousin’s life. He moved to South Carolina to become a cop. A lot of the best things [in comedy] are rooted in real life. I mean, we didn’t take his whole life but his life was definitely the inspiration for it.

Is your cousin involved in the project?
He’s not working on the pilot. If we go to series—if the show gets picked up—then I’ll bring him in to work on it and give us story ideas.

What’s next for you?
You just told me what was next. [Laughs.] I’m working on my show and touring, doing stand-up. I want to try to come up with some other show ideas—a reality show and some different things. I’m just working and constantly writing to try to generate content—that’s what I’m up to.

A reality show?
I thought of a good one here in Cabo so I’ll see if it works out.

Care to share about it?
No, there’s a lot of thieves out there so I gotta get it on paper and pitch before I do that.

What’s the weirdest job offer you’ve gotten?
The thing—with entertainment especially—is that something that looks weird or uninteresting to you, you don’t know how the execution of it will be, so something that you think, “Oh, this is crazy” might end up being the coolest thing ever. This is kind of a big analogy but Will Smith turned town “The Matrix,” you know what I mean? He’s doing fine but it’s just like, you can’t always judge things on sight.

But I had some weird jobs. I used to try to sell art door to door to businesses and sell horrible spa packages—try to charm people into buying bullshit while I was at their doorstep. Door-to-door sales is a horrible job and I don’t want to be a part of it again. It’s just tough interrupting people’s dinners with “Hey, do you want to buy this thing that you weren’t even thinking about? You were doing fine but let me tell you why you should get this.” It’s a rough gig.

What do you like best about coming back to Chicago?
It’s fun to be back home. I grew up in Chicago; I started doing comedy here. So it’s nice to go and hit up the bars and restaurants and hang out with old friends and perform shows in front of audiences that are glad to see me back. It’s fun.

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