Hannibal Buress may be one of the hardest working performers in comedy right now. Fresh off his appearance on "The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon" on Tuesday night, the comedian spoke over the phone with Boston.com recently to preview his pair of shows at Wilbur Theatre on March 8. Check out what the former "30 Rock" and "Saturday Night Live" writer had to say about his recurring role on "Broad City," his pilot deal with Comedy Central, his upcoming Boston appearance, and more.
Boston.com: Congratulations on your performance on the “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” on Tuesday night. How was that experience?
Hannibal Buress: It was fun, man! It was cool. There’s a lot of energy around the show right now with “The Tonight Show” being in New York. It was cool. I did “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” about four and a half years ago so it was cool to work with him again. It was fun! I hadn’t done a late night set since May of 2012 when I did Conan [O’Brien], so it was really fun just to do that bit on TV. That was my first set that I’ve done like that where it’s kind of focused on one thing. It was a cool experience. The Roots played my song as my walkout. They played “Gibberish Rap,” something that I did. So for The Roots to cover my song when I’m walking out, it’s really cool. I’m still on a high about it.
Boston.com: As you mentioned, the show is back in New York City. I know that you hold a weekly comedy show every Sunday night in the city. What does “The Tonight Show” being back there mean to the area’s comedians?
Buress: It just means there are more opportunities for New York comedians. There were some New York comedians that did “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” but for the most part, those type of gigs are book local. When I did “Late Night” with Fallon in ’09, I got it because somebody got sick the day before, so they hit me up to do a set. And that happened because I lived in New York. I wouldn’t get that last-minute call if the show was in LA ... they’d get somebody else. So there’s just more spots, in a sense, a big opportunity. Jimmy’s put his own stamp on the show with different things that he’s doing and it’s a cool, fun vibe. And it’s really wild with Fallon and Seth Meyers and his show all being in the same building and “Saturday Night Live” is in that building. It’s a good time for New York comics.
Boston.com: It was just announced that “Broad City” is getting the green light for a second season. Tell us about your recurring role on the show and how it’s like working with comedians like Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson?
Buress: I started out doing an episode of their web series a few years ago in 2010, actually. So they got a pilot deal and they asked me to kind of play a different character in the pilot. It’s fun, you know, he’s a dentist. I’m not really acting acting, it’s just funny situations and I’m able to improvise a lot. It’s a fun set. I’m happy that they were able to put together their own project and I’m happy to be a part of it.
Actually, walking through the street or being out and about, “Broad City” is the thing that people will kind of react to the most. People will just know me as the dude from “Broad City” over the past couple of weeks. It’s not even about my stand up. That’s evidence that the show is really connecting and people are loving it. So the fact that it has a second season, it’s cool. Actually, they have to work. Next week they start writing on the show, so it’s going real fast and we’re having fun. It’s awesome.
Boston.com: You’re also doing some voice over work for FX’s “Chozen.” What's it like working with such crazy cast members like Method Man, Danny McBride, Bobby Moynihan, and Nick Swardson?
Buress: We don’t really work together. I mean, I know Bobby from “SNL.” I met Nick doing stand up. But yeah, we don’t work together. Everybody records separately in the studio, then they put it together. The only time we were all around each other was for press in LA, but were not in the studio.
Boston.com: On top of that, your Adult Swim series “The Eric and Andre Show” is also coming back for a third season. How do you have time for all of these projects and still be able to work on your stand-up?
Buress: It’s really easy actually. A lot of times, they just ask for a block of time that you do these things. So voice over work, they’ll just schedule a time and I’ll go in for an hour and that’s an episode. “The Eric and Andre Show,” I usually go to LA for a month and some change and then I film that. And then sometimes I’m able to schedule road dates. I block out road dates and go out on the weekends. Work is work though! I’m busy, but it’s not overwhelmingly busy. It is a lot going on, but I’m still able to find the time to do stand up and go home to Chicago and hang with my folks. Take a day off and go to Vegas. I still have time to do stuff and everything’s good.
Boston.com: How did you get your start in comedy and what inspired you to take the stage?
Buress: I started doing comedy when I was in college at Southern Illinois University. I just went to an open mic and saw people doing it and I just thought that I can try it out also. So I just did.
Boston.com: Were there any comedians you tried to emulate or who inspired you?
Buress: Early on, I watched a lot of George Carlin and Richard Pryor. Interesting DVDs I picked up just when I started stand up ... just stuff to watch and learn. I picked up Robin Williams, [Dave] Chappelle, Chris Rock, Bill Cosby – I’d just watch whatever. I’d go to the comedy clubs, Zanies in Chicago, and they would let comedians in for free as long as the show wasn’t sold out. I saw whatever headliner was working that week. I would come in and find at least one of their shows and just watch them. Early on, it was about immersing myself in comedy. I would read books, websites. I was just trying to learn as much as I could about stand up and get better. So that was my focus early on.
Boston.com: I know that you recently signed a deal with Comedy Central and have a special premiering in March. You’re also working on a pilot, too. What can you tell us about it?
Buress: We sent it in the final cut today, so I’ll know in the next few weeks or months if it gets picked up for series. I feel confident about it. I think it’s funny, I’m a little bit biased. I can’t really talk about it right now, but I’m hoping that we’ll get to make a bunch of them.
Boston.com: Now for comedy fans who may not be familiar with your work, what can they expect from your show in Boston?
Buress: They should go on the Internet and search my name and then watch stuff for a little while. And then they can decide whether they want to see that live, haha.
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