Hannibal Burress is known for being Lincoln on "Broad City," a stand-up comedian and an overall cool guy. He will be performing standup at The Duke Energy Center in Raleigh tonight. Swerve Assistant Editor Morgan Vickers spoke with Burress about life, love and the pursuit of happiness.
The Daily Tar Heel: You’re best known for playing Lincoln on "Broad City," which I’ve found is a show that’s entirely relatable for college students. In fact, Abbi and Ilana came to Carrboro two years ago for their "Broad City Live" performance. What’s it been like being involved with a TV show that has increasingly become one of the most talked about shows for young people?
Hannibal Buress: I mean, it’s cool, I guess. *laughs* It’s nice to be a part of something that people are enjoying and watching and connecting to. It’s fun and it’s an interesting way to live life.
You know, being out and about as somebody that is somewhat recognizable is interesting because you can kinda zone out for a little bit and be just going about your normal activities, and then you can just get thrown out of it where you’re just chilling and doing something — you’re just walking and zoning out — and somebody out of nowhere is like, “HANNIBAL!” *laughs*
It’s been dope to watch ("Broad City") grow, and it’s been fun. You know, young people go do stuff, so it brings people to my shows and it turns people on to my stand up, so it’s been pretty cool.
DTH: So, talking about being brought into this realm of being recognizable, you did a hilarious video for Vanity Fair with Eric André where you swapped Tinders with each other. Tinder is something that is huge on college campuses. So, when thinking about Tinder, or dating in general, what advice do you have for young people who are in that dating realm right now?
HB: Be honest. Be safe. Try to be nice, if you can. Don’t get really upset by rejection, and don’t write crazy stuff. In general, nobody should say mean things to each other. I know it’s tough and sometimes you might wanna say something, but don’t do it.
You ever look at the Instagram account “byefelipe?”
DTH: No, I haven’t seen it.
HB: You should check it out. It’s this Instagram account where girls will post interactions with guys from OK Cupid or Tinder or whatever, and these guys go crazy because, say, a woman didn’t respond in thirty minutes to their message. And they just go crazy…
Don’t be super thirsty and crazy. Be respectful and chill. And if somebody doesn’t like you, they don’t like you, and move on.
Also, you know, you can upgrade to that Tinder Plus, and you can Tinder in another city. And if it’s not working for you in your city, then set your stuff to another city and see what’s poppin’ there. And maybe, you know, things might be better for you in Charlotte. Or if it’s not working out for you in Raleigh or Durham, you might need to set your stuff to Charleston, South Carolina, and see what’s poppin’ down there, you know?
MV: When you were at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, (rapper) Open Mike Eagle was your RA, and you were involved with the theater group, Oops Entertainment.
HB: Somebody did their research!
MV: *laughs* I’m trying to make sure I’m not asking you all of the same questions (as everyone else).
HB: Well, thank you! Go on!
MV: Going into college, was it your intention to get connected with a bunch of creative people and creative projects, or was it more like something that you got into or stumbled upon while in that environment?
HB: It was something I stumbled upon, definitely. I went into college not really knowing what I wanted to do at all. I started out as a business major, which — I don’t know what you do when you get just a business bachelor’s degree. I had no idea. It was just (like), “Okay, I want to make money. I guess I’ll major in business at age 17.”
A lot of times you don’t know what you’re gonna do. Even if you decide what you want to do or decide what you want to major in, you end up working in something that’s outside of that field anyway.
I think I saw a sign for that group in the theater — that entertainment group, “Oops Entertainment.” They were looking for actors and I went to a meeting and decided to sign up. We were working on a play and I was doing that. We were in rehearsals for that play, and my buddy was doing stand up and I went to an open mic with him. I just caught the bug and just wanted to try it (and) see if they’ll kinda demystify it to see it on the open mic level.
By circumstance, I ended up falling into it.
MV: You said you’re in Chicago now and you’re from Chicago originally. You moved across the country to New York to advance your career and pursue other opportunities. What was that like moving to a new environment, not only trying to navigate a new place and social scene, but also trying to find success within that new environment?
HB: I started making trips to New York maybe in 2003 or 2004 when my sister lived there. And that was the first time I went for a holiday or something, and I just kinda fell in love with the energy of the city — it’s bustling, it’s packed, it’s the subways, it’s people trying to navigate. And then, just seeing the comedy scene there and all of the open mics there was, and all of the comedy clubs there was, and just, the best comedians going up to a bunch of different places, and hearing different peoples’ stories and reading peoples’ interviews and watching interviews — hearing about them doing five, six shows in a night and performing all the time.
It was kinda this mystical place in my mind where you just go to New York and you do it, you’re able to make it. And so, it was fun. I went in 2006 for a few months and I didn’t plan it out right, I didn’t have money. I was kinda just bouncing around. But things went well because I was really just focusing on comedy.
Coming back in 2008 — it was, you know, it was a time where I was trying to do as many shows as possible and trying to meet people. It was cool because it was a time of just uncertainty and excitement, just because with certain things, you never know. A gig might pop up out of nowhere.
I remember I got booked out of nowhere. Somebody was putting together this thing… She booked comedians for this Pop Tart thing where we had to write jokes about Pop Tarts, and it paid $5,000. And, man, that $5,000 came out of nowhere and I was just like, “This is amazing.” *laughs* A big gig like that, it just changed my financial situation, at least for a few weeks — I was flushed.
So (New York was about) having moments like that, and just working and hoping for the best — it was a good time.
MV: All of the characters of "Broad City" are a little bit all over the place, but at least Lincoln — I think — at least seems to have some of his shit together. I think college kids can kind of relate to that. So, my question here is this: what advice do you have for people who are kind of like Lincoln, who are trying to balance relationships and also just managing to get work done?
HB: Oh, I’m horrible at balancing stuff. Pick out what’s important to you and operate like that. And also, I guess, Adderall helps.
HB: Adderall. That’s it, actually. Just Adderall. If you got Adderall, you get it all done. Can you put that in a college paper?
Adderall gets it done.
MV: Your tour is not merely a series of shows, but it’s called an "Experience." We’ve seen you in a lot of different roles, from writing to acting to doing stand-up. What can fans of yours, or newfound fans, expect to experience on this upcoming tour?
HB: I just like calling things “experience.” It just sounds really over the top. People should just expect a good show. I’m talking about my life, just telling stories. It’s got video elements and music elements and (I’m) just telling true-life stuff.
And also, at the end — sorry for the spoiler — I release a bunch of doves from a bag.
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