This interview was originally conducted in May for Vegas Seven magazine.
Hannibal Buress’ comedy isn’t for everyone. It’s not exaggeratedly animated or overly political or focused on whatever’s trending in the moment. It’s dry and deadpan, marked by his offbeat observational wit. More than anything, it’s relatable and real, making those who subscribe to Buress’ particular brand of comedy feel more like kindred spirits than fans. When a Reddit user posted about hooking up with Buress, he blasted it on a giant screen during a performance—like many of us, he was upset he’d woken up too late for the continental breakfast the morning after. And he’s not above the absurd prank: he once hired a double (who looked nothing like him) to attend a red carpet event.
That type of realness is why Buress is one of the most revered acts today, having written for SNL and 30 Rock and landed roles on shows like Broad City and hit movies like Tag. And it’s why we had to have him as a headliner of our comedy stage this weekend.
We caught up with the comedian to chat about Kanye West, the Vegas Golden Knights and his genuine love for Las Vegas.
You recently deleted social media off your phone. What made you do that?
I wanted to make it tougher to have sex.
Too easy for you, huh?
Yeah. Instagram, Tinder—it’s insane. You have people saying all types of stuff to me. [And] watching strangers go back and forth in the comments of a meme that Snoop Dogg posted isn’t a great use of time for me, a 35 year old man. …
All the information is really overwhelming. It’s just stuff that can shift your thought pattern. Say I post “I’ll be in Vegas,” and then somebody says, “Come to Portland!” I’m like, “I was just in Portland!” This person didn’t even see the Portland thing? Then I’ll be thinking about that shit instead of thinking about what I should be thinking about, so I’ll just let somebody else post the stuff and then I can be literally oblivious to anything. Just make sure the proper information gets out and I just do my thing.
Since you’ve been off social media, did you miss Kanye’s “Lift Yourself”?
The “poopity scoop”?
Yeah. When I heard it, I thought it sounded like “Gibberish Rap” or something you’d do on Handsome Rambler.
Yeah, it sounds like he bit my style a little bit.
What do you make of that?
He knows who I am, so maybe it happened. He’s known to draw influences from different places, so I think he might have heard “Gibberish Rap.” “Gibberish Rap” is five or six years old. So, I’ll say it: I think Kanye stole my song.
Make that the headline: “Kanye West Stole ‘Gibberish Rap’ from Hannibal Buress.” I’m subscribing to the Kanye West School of Publicity now.
You’ve been memed a lot. Do you have favorite meme of yourself?
I have a weird thought about memes because people will send them to me like, “You’re famous now, look!” I’m like, It’s a meme. It’s cool, but people get super hyped about it in a way that I won’t get, [and] am incapable of getting, about a meme. I guess the “wack” one is crazy, though.
I do enjoy being able to do GIFs of myself, like, use them during text conversations or online. Just being able to type in your own name and have a bunch of images of yourself. That’s one of the benefits of being moderately famous in 2018 is that you can really utilize that in a text conversation. It’s like, “Look at that. Here’s something of myself that perfectly expresses what I wanna say right now without words.”
You come to Vegas a lot, not just for appearances but to actually kick it. What draws you to this city?
I like sports gambling. I’ve gone to a handful of Golden Knights games, actually. I would even consider myself a Golden Knights fan because I’ve been to a bunch of their games and they usually win, so they’re a good team to bet on. But the games are fun. Hockey is a great live sport; just the pace of it and the skill level is outstanding. To be able to ice skate, which is tough on its own, then have a stick and navigate the puck and also dodge people that try to hurt you—it’s a lot going on. Vegas with the gambling, plus hockey, plus legalized marijuana, it’s a good spot to kick it.
What are your favorite spots to hit?
I’m at Westgate a lot. It’s got the best sports book, the most overwhelming sports book.
What about when you’re not gambling?
I went to ReBar downtown. They had an open mic that I checked out one time. I like the style of that bar and that you can buy anything. You been there?
Yeah, you can buy the chair you sit on and the glass they serve you a drink in.
I like that business model. Even though I didn’t buy anything, I like having the option.
Not too many celebrities leave the Strip, but you did a pop-up show at a small venue downtown a couple years back.
Yeah, I kick it around town. My tolerance for being at a bar is low. So I’ll go to a casino and chill downtown, grab food around Container Park, walk around a little bit. Mostly go to hockey games, grab some stuff from a dispensary, chill out, watch games, repeat.
What can we expect from you at Life is Beautiful?
When I do music festivals, I usually try to talk about music more and have more clips and different things in the set than normal.
Will we get to hear “Gibberish Rap” or “Versace Breakfast” live?
Maybe, we’ll see.
Limited tickets are still available for the sixth annual Life is Beautiful Music and Art Festival. Buy passes at lifeisbeautiful.com/tickets.