Hannibal Buress Talks About His Chicago Roots And Success

Comedian Hannibal Buress says having an eye to the absurdities of life is what has set him apart in the comedy industry. In an interview with "CBS This Morning: Saturday" co-host Anthony Mason, he talked about his recent leap into the silverscreen and how he started out.

Born in Chicago, he says that the city forced him to grow quickly. "You have to be. It's just where I come from in Chicago. You had to be funny to be around," he said.

After finishing high school, he went to study business at Southern Illinois University. However, he says that there’s was a class called finite math that he had trouble with. He did the first test and failed and went ahead and repeated the same test and failed. That is when he decided that he wasn’t meant to be in business. Today he says that he can’t really define what is finite math.

His first stand-up was in college at an open mic event. He still remembers that day like it was yesterday: "I remember gettin' off the stage and sittin' down and just -- my leg was shakin' from adrenaline. I just remember this leg, I was sittin' down and it wouldn't stop shakin," he said. "It was just, it was addicting and I just wanted to do it all the time. And from there I just researched everything I could about comedy."

Buress is a great self-promoter and he made his name known when he got a big gig and requested the Daily Egyptian, a college paper to spread the word about the gig.

"Who else gonna do it, for a comedian that's a year in?" Buress said. "They need stuff to write about in Carbondale. You just tell 'em what's going on, and they're like, 'Sure!'"

As he was starting out, he slowly began to develop a following. He left Chicago in 2008 and moved to New York, the comedy capital of the United States. Here competition was stiff than what he had anticipated. However, he built up a solid following in New York and met his success as a comedian.

At times, he would do up to 6 shows a night. It turned out to be a routine and he started doing 5 to 6 shows a night. In 2014, he recorded a video about Bill Cosby and it went viral. During this period, Cosby was facing several rape allegations. He got a lot of attention over the controversy and many shows sought him for interviews. He says that it wasn’t the kind of attention he was looking for. 

He got a small role in “Baywatch” and in “Spiderman: Homecoming” where he acts as a gym teacher in a detention room. In retrospect, he says that he didn’t ever think he would venture out into movies and he always thought that comedy was his only niche.

When he was first sent the scripts of Spiderman: Homecoming, he wanted to turn down the role telling his agent that he couldn’t act. However, he says that he still feels that he isn’t at a turning point and the best is yet to come. We should expect more.

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