Who: Hannibal Buress
When: June 1st – June 4
8 pm/10:30 pm (times vary)
Where: Acme Comedy Club, 708 N 1st St #G31
Hannibal Buress has had more comedic success over the last few years than most stand-up comics do in a lifetime. Call him talented or call him lucky, just don’t call him the black Mitch Hedberg. He hates that.
Over the phone, Buress is everything his album “My Name is Hannibal” suggests: succinct, friendly and occasionally awkward.
Born and raised in Illinois, Buress paid his comedy-circuit dues performing in Chicago clubs following a stint as a student at Southern Illinois University. After an appearance on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" in 2009, Buress was hired to write sketches for "Saturday Night Live." Leaving "SNL" after one season, Buress went on to write for and act in season five of “30 Rock” (he plays the bum who doles out all the snappy one-liners).
While he enjoyed the jobs, he still insists his stand-up is stock-in-trade. And he doesn’t seem likely to quit anytime soon.
“[30 Rock] just helped me learn how to write tight jokes and how to get the word in perfect and really work like that,” Buress said. “As far as pacing and tying things together, it helped me a lot with the writing.”
Since his ascent, Buress has endured his fair share of the “Black Mitch Hedberg” comparisons. It’s a label that he detests, but continues to dog him despite his popularity.
“It suggests that I’m a carbon copy, which I’m not. It puts me in a box [and] I think I’m doing something a bit different,” Buress said.
It’s a fair comparison, but borders on superficial considering how original Buress actually is. While his album is chock-full of whip-smart observations that are reminiscent of some of the more snarky moments of “Strategic Grill Locations” and “Mitch All Together,” Buress’ comedic personality comes from a place far more personal. Hederg’s sets were a marathon of absurdist one-liners about the mundane told at a breakneck pace.
Like Hedberg, Buress also finds hilarity in life’s dullest moments, but here it’s all punctuated by a certain degree of meanness and the laughs have more to do with the actual material than Buress’ whacky persona. Even when he indulges in a topic as childish and innocent as video games (he does so frequently), he follows through with a punchline that is as silly as it is snide.
All comparisons aside, Buress isn’t only one of the funniest new comedians on the rise, but also a true original. He takes queues from icons, citing classics like Chris Rock’s “Bigger and Blacker” and Dave Chappelle “For What It’s Worth,” but brings comedy to a place far weirder and more awkward. Best of all, he manages to keep you laughing the whole way there.
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