Few other comedians have had as much hype behind them in recent years as Hannibal Buress. The thing is, Buress deserves every ounce of it. Over the last few years, we’ve watched the Chicago-bred comic establish himself as a talented writer — having completed stints on both Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock — and as versatile, industrious stand-up comedian. His first album, My Name is Hannibal, landed on our Top 10 best albums of 2010 (among other outlets’ lists), he’s been asked to perform at nearly every respected comedy festival and he’s currently developing a sitcom for Fox with Jonah Hill.
This week, however, it’s all about his first hour special, Animal Furnance, which premieres on Comedy Central this Sunday, May 20 at 11 pm EST. The uncut album and DVD comes out May 22. To celebrate and to prepare you, dear Laughspin readers, we chatted with the man, himself. Check it out below!
You’re out in LA right now?
Yea, I just got in LA. We’re doing a premiere for The Eric Andre Show.
So, The Eric Andre Show. What can you tell me about this?
It’s a talk show hosted by Eric Andre. I’m his co-host. It’s a very weird show. We have some guests and some Man On The Street pieces. It’s just a crazy insane talk show. It’s just if crazy people were allowed to put on a talk show and not hide the fact that they’re crazy people.
You shot it in a bodega in Bushwick [Brooklyn]?
We shot a pilot in a bodega in Bushwick a couple years ago. But you can’t keep shooting in a bodega! But yeah, we shot a pilot a few years back. And I think Eric paid for that with his own money. And Adult Swim picked it up. We shot another pilot last summer and now it’s about to come out on Sunday. I’m really excited about it.
Cool. And on the same night that drops, we have your special, Animal Furnace. It’s cool because, having listened to your first album, My Name Is Hannibal, your style has changed over the past few years. Was that very conscious? Have you noticed the change?
It’s just performing a lot. After I wrapped 30 Rock last March, I just went on the road for about eight months solid. It was just doing clubs and performing. Just touring relentlessly. I think it’s just performing and getting better and learning how to really sell a joke to all types of audiences. So as I was performing, I got stronger.
I’ve listened to you on WTF, You Made It Weird, and It Could Be Better podcasts tell your story about coming to New York. It’s really cool. Especially the whole temporarily being homeless part. Was there ever a point where you didn’t think that comedy was going to work? Were you worried when you first came in from Chicago?
No, not really. I did pretty well in the four months that I was over here in New York. I just wasn’t making money. I got New Faces at Montreal when I was here, in New York and homeless. I just didn’t plan right. I didn’t move like a grown human being is supposed to move, where you save and plan it out. I just came over and expected that I was going to get a job right away. I could have went back. The more reasonable thing would have been to go back home to Chicago and get it together. So I didn’t have any doubts about comedy. I just didn’t have any money.
You mentioned on your website recently, in regards to your weekly show at the Knitting Factory [free every Sunday night] that, “as long as I’m based in NYC, I’ll put it together.” You don’t think you’ll ever get too big for a bar in Brooklyn?
Nah, it’s fun for me! I stay two blocks away from there so it’s fun to just come in and try new material to an excited audience. I can have people I think are funny, have them perform. Then my friends, other comedians that aren’t even on the show, they come. We drink. We party. It’s just a fun thing to do every week when I’m in town.
You’ve had some really cool surprise guests, even when the show was in its infancy. I remember getting texts from friends saying, “Chris Rock just dropped in at Knitting Factory!” How’d you make that happen?
I just asked him, but not actually expecting him to show up! I just asked him a couple times and kept telling him about the show and he came through. I’ve been trying to get him to come back through– because it’s been about two years. It was really exciting because he’s a legend and I look up to that dude. It was also the first time I’d seen him live.
So you’ve wanted to get on camera when you were writing for Saturday Night Live, and you have plenty of camera time on The Eric Andre Show. Are you satisfied? Do you want more spotlight on TV?
I just want to work. I like to work, man. I like to do funny stuff on TV or on stage or whatever it might be. And doing those things helps draw attention to my stand-up, which is the main thing for me. If there’s good acting roles and someone thinks I can come in and not fuck it up, I’m happy to come in and do it. I just like to work, is all.
What’s next after these both air on May 20?
Just touring. Going to Chicago for Just For Laughs Festival and Montreal Just For Laughs. Hopefully, I’ll do a couple more TV spots. I think John Oliver’s stand-up show airs in the summer at some point on Comedy Central. Then, I’m heading over to Edinburgh fest to work on my new hour. Because I’m worried about when the special comes out, I have to have a bunch of new stuff for while I’m touring. It took around two years to build the last hour. But at least 15-20 minutes of it came from between June and August.
Is there a late night show you haven’t been on yet now?
Just Leno. After Conan (see BONUS video below) it’ll be Leno… and Carson Daly.
Check out Hannibal’s new hour special, Animal Furnace, May 20 on Comedy Central at 11 pm EST. Once that’s over, hop on over to Adult Swim to see the premiere of The Eric Andre Show at 12:30 am EST. Then on May 22, lay your money down for the uncut and uncensored album version or DVD version of Animal Furnace.