Hannibal Buress: They Call Him the Working Man

TV Features Hannibal Buress

Hometown: Chicago and New York
Album: My Name is Hannibal
For Fans Of: Mitch Hedberg, Chris Rock, Adult Swim

“Hannibal Buress is going to be a gigantic star,” comedic heavyweight Jim Gaffigan told Chicago magazine earlier this year. That’s hardly a risky statement when you consider the 27-year-old funnyman’s recent rise. With a collaborative comedy documentary DVD release in May, his My Name Is Hannibal album (out now on Stand Up! Records) and his new gig as a writer for Saturday Night Live, Buress is pleasantly busy these days.

To hear him tell it, though, he’s been slammed for eight years now, ever since he got his start in comedy as a student at Southern Illinois University. “I really got into it there,” Buress says via phone in Los Angeles, where he’s taping a Comedy Central special. “I started hosting open mics and doing horrible road gigs in the area. I had my own TV show on the campus network and was doing radio things. It was a small town, so it was easy to get access to everything. You have some bad shows, but I was enjoying it and having fun, so there was no real struggle there.”

Buress, whose casual stand-up style will appeal to fans of the late Mitch Hedberg, peppers his act with absurdist stories tying together apple juice and racism one moment and bemoaning his name’s connections to Silence of the Lambs the next. His act caught the attention of SNL late last year, but having a full-time job hasn’t hampered his prodigious work ethic. “I’m still not where I want to be, but I’m fortunate to be working and in the spot that I’m in,” Buress says. “It’s good to be doing this in a city like New York where there’s a lot of late-night places. I can go out and perform at midnight on a Monday after I leave work.”

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