Hannibal Buress

A native of the Austin neighborhood of Chicago, Hannibal Buress has been featured in The Awkward Comedy Show special on Comedy Central, and alongside comics Baron Vaughn, Eric André, Marina Franklin, and Victor Varnado, and on the FX sitcom Louie. He currently co-stars with Eric André on The Eric André Show on Adult Swim. In July 2010, Buress made Variety magazine’s “Ten Comics to Watch in 2010” list.

From the New York Times:
Hannibal Buress Evolves From Cult Star to Showman
At the Brooklyn Academy of Music on Sunday night, Hannibal Buress did not backtrack from what was probably the most consequential joke told in recent memory, the now famous bit about sexual assault accusations against Bill Cosby.

But he did play down his role in leaving the older comedian’s reputation in tatters, blaming the news media instead. “They acted like I was a detective on the case,” Mr. Buress said toward the end of his hour-and-a-half set. “Like I found a Coogi sweater with roofie dust on it or something.” He made a joke about being paranoid about Cosby-hired assassins, then dropped the subject.

In video from a Philadelphia show that went viral, Mr. Buress, 32, said that he wanted to make it weird for you to watch reruns of “The Cosby Show.” He did more than that, of course, galvanizing outrage in a way that news reports about the allegations had not, inspiring protests and a national scandal. It was a startling example of a rape joke’s raising social consciousness and confronting rather than trivializing sexual assault.

A supremely gifted and respected comic who has been on the verge of stardom for so long that he was at risk of getting stuck, Mr. Buress has shined as a sidekick (“The Eric Andre Show”) and a supporting player (“Broad City”). He’s put out three strong specials and has been one of the most reliably funny stand-ups performing regularly in New York. He often opens for headliners at major theaters and arenas.

What he hasn’t done is find the vehicle that allows him to cross over. His writing stint at “Saturday Night Live” was brief, and the deal he signed with Fox for a show with Jonah Hill hasn’t resulted in anything on the air. In some ways, his Cosby joke has been his biggest breakthrough, reaching an audience beyond the comedy crowd. It’s a surprising situation for a comic not known for provocative moral stands. He’s less likely to do hard-hitting diatribes about race, gender or politics than to mock rap songs or pick apart figures of speech (like his joke on why raping and pillaging are often paired).

Only briefly exploring the fallout of the Cosby controversy may be something of a missed opportunity, but it’s understandable that he skillfully sticks to safer ground in his new show, his first theater tour, called “The Comedy Camisado.” It does represent an ambitious shift, but one of style more than substance.

Making the jump from cult favorite to star has always been about more than timing, delivery and jokes. For decades, it’s also pointedly about getting a television show with your name in the title. But in the current stand-up boom, that route may no longer be the only one as comics like Tig Notaro and Maria Bamford steadily build careers through live performance, moving from intimate rooms to bigger venues.

In the last few years, Mr. Buress has expanded his act in subtle but significant ways. He used to be a quirkier performer, using a laid-back drawl that moseyed its way through a premise and into the punch line, maintaining a steady rhythmic pace. His trademark was carefully crafted absurdist jokes, which earned comparisons to Mitch Hedberg.

As Mr. Buress has played bigger rooms, he’s evolved from that rigorously low-key style. He has sped up his delivery and expanded into a rambling, layered series of jokes that often imagine alternative histories or pet theories in theatrical scenes. He still has some stand-alone one-liners that require a patient approach with a strategic pause, including a nicely bizarre one about the particularly gross request of a fortune teller, but he’s more likely to get laughs now from verbose monologues alternating with Ping-Ponging dialogue.



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