×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

10 Comics to Watch: Hannibal Buress

Killer set boosts comic to 'SNL' writers room

10 COMICS TO WATCH
Hannibal Buress | Deon Cole | Lucas Cruikshank | Garfunkel & Oates
Brett Gelman | Chris Gethard | The Imponderables | Kyle Kinane
Chelsea Peretti | Jack Whitehall

Sitting in “Saturday Night Live” head writer Seth Meyers’ office last August, Hannibal Buress was skeptical. Two weeks earlier, he had performed standup on “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon,” and now, Meyers was offering him a writing job on “SNL.” “They didn’t ask for a writing packet or anything,” Buress recalls. Good thing. He’d never written a sketch in his life.

P.O.V.
“I want a different story of how I got on ‘SNL.’ I was killing Seth Meyers in a dice game. He lost all his money, so he pulled out a writing job.”
Influences: Dave Chappelle, Chris Rock, Louis C.K., Patrice O’Neal.
Represented
by: ICM

But what surely impressed those “SNL” folks is what’s been impressing comedy fans for years: Buress’ breezy, offbeat observational comedy.

Chalk some of that up to his metered delivery. Buress is patient with his premises, allowing details to set before pulling the rug out from under the audience. In one joke, Buress discovers unconventional ways to use leftover pickle juice in his fridge: Flicking it on sandwiches for flavor.

Buress spent his formative comedy years in Chicago, working fleeting odd jobs — falafel maker, temp janitor, product sample hander-outer — then hustling to open mics at night. “I fell for pyramid scheme jobs, the ones where they hype you up, like, ‘You’re gonna own your own business.’ Two different ones!” Buress recalls. “?’SNL’ is the first real job I’ve held for more than a month and a half.”

Though a New York move in 2006 was abandoned five months in, it stuck in 2008. He continues to tour during off weeks and hosts a weekly showcase at Knitting Factory in Brooklyn (Chris Rock recently dropped by to see Buress’ set), with his first album, “My Name Is Hannibal,” out July 27. So far, only one of Buress’ pitches has made it to air (a bit poking fun at Charles Barkley’s golf swing), though his ideas regularly boost other sketches.

“He is the funniest person in the Monday pitch meeting,” says Meyers. “A pitch is a nervous time. Most people speed up the normal pace of how they speak. Hannibal, though, has it right on the level.”

More Legit

  • Sutton Foster

    Sutton Foster Starring Opposite Hugh Jackman in Broadway's 'The Music Man'

    “The Music Man” has found its Marian, the librarian. Sutton Foster, the two-time Tony Award winner, will star opposite Hugh Jackman in the upcoming revival of “The Music Man.” She will play Marian Paroo, a small-town librarian who is initially immune to Professor Harold Hill’s charms. It’s a role that was previously performed by the [...]

  • 'Black Super Hero Magic Mama' Review

    L.A. Theater Review: 'Black Super Hero Magic Mama'

    What function do superhero stories play in American society? Are they merely escapist distractions for head-in-the-clouds teens, or could those same formats actually serve a practical function, providing useful tools for everyday life? Recognizing these comic book fantasies as by far the dominant form of contemporary mythmaking for a generation of young people, emerging playwright [...]

  • Danielle Brooks'Ain't Too Proud - The

    How 'Orange Is the New Black' Star Danielle Brooks Became a Broadway Producer

    Danielle Brooks earned a Tony nomination when she made her Broadway debut as Sofia in the 2015 revival of “The Color Purple,” but now the “Orange Is the New Black” star is working behind the scenes as a producer on the new jukebox musical “Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations.” “I [...]

  • Ain't Too Proud review

    Broadway Review: 'Ain't Too Proud'

    In the wake of the long-running “Jersey Boys” and the short-lived “Summer,” director Des McAnuff is back on Broadway with another show built around the song catalog of a music act — and although “Ain’t Too Proud” has all the right sounds and slick moves, this bio-musical of the R&B vocal group the Temptations is [...]

  • 'White Noise' Theater Review: Suzan-Lori Parks

    Off Broadway Review: Daveed Diggs in 'White Noise'

    Any new play by the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks (“Topdog / Underdog”) demands — and deserves — attention. And in its premiere production at the Public Theater, her latest, “White Noise,” opens with a burst of brainy energy that lasts through the first act. But it takes a nosedive in the sloppy second half, [...]

  • Alexander Dinelaris

    'Jekyll and Hyde' Movie in the Works Based on Broadway Musical

    The Broadway musical “Jekyll and Hyde” is getting the movie treatment from Academy Award winner Alexander Dinelaris. Dinelaris, who is writing and producing the adaptation, won an Oscar for the “Birdman” script and was a co-producer on “The Revenant.” He is producing “Jekyll and Hyde” as the first project under his New York-based development company, [...]

  • Sam Mendes

    Listen: The 'Balls-Out Theatricality' of Sam Mendes

    If you find yourself directing a Broadway play with a cast so big it includes a goose, two rabbits, more kids than you can count and an actual infant, what do you do? If you’re Sam Mendes, you embrace the “balls-out theatricality” of it all. Listen to this week’s podcast below: “There is a kind [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content