What: Hannibal Buress
When: 8 p.m., Wednesday; 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday
Where: Acme Comedy Co., 708 N. First St., Minneapolis
When the Carthaginian general Hannibal crossed the Alps with his now famous retinue of war elephants, he had no idea that his name would be handed down to a standup comic from Chicago.
Hannibal Buress embodies the power of his namesake, commanding the stage in a manner befitting a star in the making. Off stage is a slightly different story: Buress prefers to just hang out, leaving his material for the stage.
“A lot of my set is ‘Yeah, I was here,’ or ‘I was at the airport and this happened,’” Buress said. “I get two to three new jokes just from coming off the road. I’m fortunate for that because I’m pretty lazy.”
His tendency to source material from real-life experiences materializes in his sets. He jokes about getting into a firefight with imaginary pistols against a small child at the airport.
While his childlike demeanor aids in his comic exploits, he is quick to point out how much grown-man stuff he is capable of. He masturbates before going out and having sex to make himself last longer and says that “Up” was great, but he’ll never cry for a cartoon.
“People are people, and people are hilarious,” Buress said. “If you talk to enough people, they’ll say enough dumb stuff for me to repeat it.”
That is not to say that Buress is a hack observational comic. His writing credits on shows like “Saturday Night Live” and “30 Rock” are enough to illustrate that, while he may not admit it, Buress is a true student of the funny.
“It’s been a lot of fun and boosted my stand-up credibility, too,” Buress said. “People know you from the shows, and they are more apt to see you perform live.”
What an audience gets from Buress varies from night to night. He rarely tailors his sets for his intended audiences, though working the campus comedy circuit can play out a little differently.
“Sometimes at colleges I’ll say something and they just don’t get it,” Buress said. “I did Washington University in St. Louis, and I made a reference to ‘Three’s Company’ and got nothing. That reference would kill in a comedy club — it always kills.”
His cockiness would be off-putting if it weren’t so effective in his stand-up. His vanity allows for him to lift himself to a plane where indignation is proper and righteous.