Comic Hannibal Buress to tickle TA’s fancy

The American stand-up comedian talks to the ‘Post’ about the art of comedy and how much he’s (not) thinking about the BDS movement ahead of his show later this month.

June 5, 2016 19:56
3 minute read.
Hannibal Buress

Hannibal Buress. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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At first glance, Hannibal Buress, whose namesake is one of the most respected generals in history and whose recent Netflix special, Camisado, is named after a Japanese pre-dawn sneak attack, comes off as anything but combative. His droopy eyes and overall lax demeanor, though, leave his audience unprepared for the onslaught to come.

Take his bit about IDs in his latest special, for example. It starts innocently enough. The American comedian complains that at 32, it’s a bit ridiculous that he’s expected to provide ID when going to a bar.

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“I feel like you can tell I’m not 20,” the Chicago native says laconically.

The bit then escalates into a fit of rage against the Embassy Suites; the comedian was asked to present an ID at check-out after it was lost on tour.

“IDs are a big part of my life. Resenting authority is a big part of my standup,” Buress told The Jerusalem Post.

Israelis will have a chance to soak in that calm-before-the-storm brand of comedy when he appears at the Tel Aviv Opera house on June 29.

While Buress may not be a household name yet, his star is quickly rising after his successful Netflix standup specials and his turn as Lincoln in the Comedy Central comedy Broad City.

Speaking to Buress over the phone, it’s easy to see how he easily channels the affable, worry-free boyfriend he portrays in the hit series.

“It was something that I never really thought of as a possibility until I was in college and I went to an open mic and saw on the low-level how it’s done,” Buress recalls. “I saw people who are my classmates doing open-mic where anybody can go on, and just seeing... people who are not great at it made me think, ‘Oh, I can do that and maybe not be great. If it goes poorly, it goes poorly. But if I went on, and it felt good doing it, then I’ll keep at it.’” That tenacity served him well as he quickly rose to prominence after landing writing gigs for Saturday Night Live and then 30 Rock. Now, aside from performing all over America, the Chicago native has taken his act abroad, and observing new cultures is something the comedian relishes.

“I just kind of experience the place and check it out,” he says of wading into unfamiliar cultural territory.

Burress makes a habit of traveling to each new city a couple of days before the gig so he can take in as much as possible. Talking to locals and reading the English-language newspaper of a foreign country are part of the comedian’s homework. While he doesn’t overhaul his entire act, he does tweak it some so a few jokes are personalized for his audience.

“I don’t want to make it seem like my act is paint by numbers. So I’ll include a few minutes about the place where I’m at.”

“It’s always fun to check out different aspects of life and see how different parts of the world live,” he adds.

Speaking of new experiences, a not-so-little one he may have to experience coming here is dodging Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) activists. His visit thus far has managed to fly under the radar of BDS supporters and the comedian himself.

“What boycott?!?,” he exclaimed, somewhat alarmed when asked about his views of the movement.

“Oh, man! This is intense,” he replied after this reporter explained the BDS movement to him and the potential implications.

That is not to mean the actor is completely apolitical. While most of his act revolves around relationships and the day-to-day absurdity of life, he is keeping an eye on the US presidential election gripping the nation.

“It’s a political race between a bunch of old people,” he says. “We’ll see how it plays out. It’s still six months away, so there’s a lot of time a lot of information to get, a lot of stuff to hear, but right now, I’m undecided.”

If presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton/ Bernie Sanders want his vote, one thing is for certain: they better not ask him for his ID.

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