Q&A: Hannibal Buress talks 'Broad City,' dogs, death, and more
By By Maura Callahan
Mar 11, 2015 | 3:13 PM
In anticipation of the Baltimore stop on his Comedy Comisado Tour at the Lyric this Friday, we connected with stand-up comedian, co-host of Adult Swim's "The Eric Andre Show," cool dude Lincoln on Comedy Central's "Broad City," and guy who brought the Bill Cosby rape allegations into the public eye through an innocent joke he didn't know was being filmed, Hannibal Buress. Surprisingly, he is just as chill, if not more so, than his TV and stage personas. Unsurprisingly, he wasn't too hot on talking about the Cosby joke, but we did touch on Grand Theft Auto, the gift of comedy, death, and dogs.
City Paper: (after waiting by the phone eagerly and allowing an appropriate amount of rings to pass) Hello?
Hannibal Buress: Hi, this is Hannibal. How are you?
HB: I mean, people come to the shows for whatever reason they come to the show, you know? I'm not surveying everyone who comes through. They might see me in a YouTube video, they might see me in "Broad City," "Eric Andre Show." They might come because somebody else brought them and they don't have any idea who I am.
CP: Is that kind of social commentary that you did with Cosby still a part of your stand-up?
HB: Ah, I don't know, I just kind of talk about what I find interesting.
CP: (internal sigh) . . . I was thinking about your character on "Broad City," Lincoln, and I kind of view him as this ideal dude, in a way. He has a good job, he loves dogs, but most importantly he really respects Ilana. He wants a serious relationship with her, but he understands that she just wants to be fuckbuddies, and he totally respects that. So what has that been like for you, playing this really awesome dude?
HB: It's been fun. It's a different type of show that I've been on; it's a weirder thing when you're acting on television, especially with a good show like that. I'm doing the scenes, I'm acting, but I don't really take how the character is connecting with people. I get stuff online, people send me stuff or I see people out and about and people say oh wow . . . it's really cool, people enjoy that but it's something you don't get to feel it until it's out there, where with stand-up you do and you get the reaction from the crowd right there, you know what I mean?
CP: I follow it on Tumblr. Are you actually the Al Dente Dentist?
HB: Am I?
HB: I don't know. I don't know if I am. I mean, yeah, I run the blog for a television character that I play. Sure, let's go with that. (laughs)
CP: I've made some great pasta dishes.
HB: Oh, you actually use the blog? That's awesome.
CP: I was watching the episode of "The Eric Andre Show" where you host, and I loved the bit where you wore a suit made from cookies and told a crowd that you're a registered sex offender. There's such great costume design in that show.
HB: It's really good. Can you hold on one second? I'm gonna get a drink real quick.
CP: Take your time.
(a couple of minutes pass)
HB: OK, sorry about that.
CP: That's OK. Have you ever done anything on the "Eric Andre Show" that made you feel uncomfortable?
HB: Sometimes the thing we'll do to the guests is . . . I'm trying to think of something specific. I mean, a lot of stuff is weird but then when it gets cut together then, you know . . . There's been things that I may not have initially been on board with, but then after it gets edited or there's post-production, I get on board. But it's a very weird show.
CP: I guess that kind of show gives you an excuse to be as outrageous as possible, right?
HB: Yeah. It's really just saying all types of stuff and being way more obnoxious than I would actually be—which I get to do in stand-up, also. A lot of my stand-up is me saying what I wish I would've said in a certain situation or it being a raw, obnoxious version of myself. So we get to do that on camera, and a lot of times it works out. The great thing about the show is that it's really short so we get to try a lot of stuff and then it gets handled in the editing. We shoot an hour or 45 minutes for an interview and then use maybe two minutes of it. So it allows us to get a lot of good moments.
CP: It's interesting what you just said about how a lot of your material is stuff you wish you had said in a previous situation. That seems like such a great gift, to be able to go back to those situations.
HB: Yeah, you just get to reflect. I think everybody does that, like "I should've said this to that motherfucker!" You always have a better version of what you could've done, but stand-up allows you to recap and reprocess things.
CP: No one else really gets to do that, I guess.
HB: I dunno. Screenwriters, rappers. You can do it in songs, I guess. But yeah. That's what doing performance allows you to look at a situation differently.
CP: I read that you lent your voice to "Grand Theft Auto V." I played "Grand Theft Auto" once and it made me angry as a woman but more as someone who just didn't know how to use the controller. I feel like your voice is so chill it would make that game easier for people like me who just get pissed off. What was that like, doing that?
HB: I'm friends with the producer Flying Lotus, and he had a radio station on the game, so he asked me to do a couple bits on there. It was really short but it was cool. He has his radio station, he just hits me up and I'm his man on the street. It's really cool to play, because I'm a big fan of that game, and to play a game that you genuinely enjoy and have your voice come up while you're playing this game was pretty cool.
CP: You're also working on a movie with Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg ["Daddy's Home"]. How's that going?
HB: It finished up in January, actually. We were filming out here in New Orleans. It was a lot of fun. It was different; I've only done a couple movies. It's the biggest role I've done so far. Other things were just a couple days' work. I was in New Orleans for more than a month. But it was really cool, man, to be on set that many days and watch those guys and be able to pick their brains and ask them questions. So I've excited to see how it comes together. Like what I was saying earlier, one thing I enjoy about stand up is the immediacy of it. TV has a little bit of a quicker turnaround, but movies sometimes take a full year to come out. Like when is this coming out? I could be dead by then, dude (laughs).
CP: When is it coming out?
HB: Maybe around Thanksgiving or Christmas or something.
CP: Shit, I could be dead by then, too.
HB: Yeah, a lot of us could.
CP: I hope not too many people are dead before then.
HB: Unfortunately, a lot of people are going to die without seeing this movie.
CP: That's the greatest tragedy.
HB: It's a grim thing. There are some people who are gonna die who would not have wanted to see this movie, but it's definitely some people in the demo are going to die.
CP: Other than potential musical elements, what can we expect from your show on the 13th?
HB: It's going to be a good show. That's [this] Saturday, huh?
HB: Yeah it's coming up fast, wow. It's going to be a fun show. I've been on the road for a few months now working, so this is going to be a pretty tight version of the show. Talking about sports, talking about growing up, talking about being 32.
CP: You've been doing stand-up since you were really young, right?
HB: I was 19.
CP: What's changed since then? It seems like your career has really boomed in the past few years.
HB: I'm working more and more people know me. Over time I've grown as a performer. You do something for a while, you get better at it. That's all I'm trying to do, is keep writing stuff that interests me and makes me laugh and try to share it with people.
CP: Can I ask a question for Lincoln? If you were a dog, what kind of dog would you be?
HB: I'm not as big of a fan of dogs as Lincoln is. Like I tolerate dogs. Like I'm sitting outside this coffee shop and somebody walked past with their dog and the dog got in my face and I just petted it a little bit because it seems like that's what you're supposed to do in society. But I'm not all about dogs. I don't know, what kind of dog would I be? I would be a . . . a Doberman-chihuahua mix. No, that's bullshit—
CP: I don't think there's anything but a bullshit answer to give here.
HB: Yeah, you're right.
CP: So a Doberman-chihuahua mix? That'd be really weird-looking.