A lot of things have changed for comedian Hannibal Buress.
For starters, the proud Chicagoan had Lasik eye surgery not too long ago, which means he is no longer the bespectacled comic he once was. Even more significant, Buress is now known more as That Guy Who Helped Bring Down Bill Cosby.
Buress went viral two years ago when a video surfaced online of him going off on the comedy icon for his hypocrisy. In front of a Philadelphia audience (Cosby’s hometown), Buress first said Cosby has the “smuggest, old-black-man public persona that I hate,” later adding, “Yeah, but you rape women, Bill Cosby, so turn the crazy down a couple of notches.”
Those two minutes of jokes incited both the media and the public to revisit the previous sexual assault accusations made against Cosby. It also brought out more women who said they were allegedly assaulted by Cosby.
For Buress, it was never his intention to turn Cosby into the disgraced pariah that he is today. He was just being a comedian.
“I was doing a show, and then somebody filmed that show and they put it up,” says the New York-based Buress, 33, on the phone from Boston. “So, I didn’t push it in that way. So, that wasn’t my angle, but it is what it is, man.” At this point, he’s accepted that people will always want to talk to him about Cosby. “I still do my work, and if people want to ask about it and get some clicks from it on an article, then so be it. But I have to always move forward.”
(Note: Video contains mature language.)
Indeed, Buress has been moving forward. This summer, you may have seen him in “Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising” or “The Nice Guys,” or heard him doing voice work in “The Secret Life of Pets” or “The Angry Birds Movie.” Next summer, he’ll be in both “Spider-Man: Homecoming” and the movie version of “Baywatch.” But even though he’s been finding his way into movies as of late, Buress, who previously was a writer for “Saturday Night Live” and “30 Rock,” can always be found on the small screen.
Last year, he had his own show on Comedy Central, titled “Why? with Hannibal Buress.” The half-hour program was composed of satirical skits, comic commentary and other bits, but the show visibly had problems with what exactly “Why?” was.
“The first episode we did was our pilot episode pretty much,” he remembers. “So, we figured it out as we went. It wasn’t the most focused thing. In the end, I decided it wasn’t for me. There’s a misconception that it was canceled by Comedy Central, but actually, I just didn’t want to do another season of it.”
Buress is a consistent presence on the tube. He can be seen on “Easy,” a comedy anthology series set in Buress’s Chicago hometown, which debuted on Netflix this week. He also continues to serve as the sidekick on Adult Swim’s “The Eric Andre Show,” the anarchic anti-talk show hosted by comedian (and Buress’s longtime friend) Andre. The fourth season is currently airing Friday nights at midnight.
“I’ve been doing that for a while and it’s fun,” he says. “It’s not a crazy time commitment, you know. It’s kind of a fun, easy gig to just come in and work for a couple of weeks and mess with people and do some weird stuff and hang out with a friend, you know.”
Buress will also be back for another season of Comedy Central’s “Broad City” next year. Fans of the show know Buress as Lincoln, the on-again, off-again friend-with-benefits to Ilana Glazer’s boho gal, also named Ilana. He’s found that fans who love Buress’s nice-guy character get a little taken aback when they witness his sarcastic, comic skills. He says, “They see me out and about and they don’t even know that I do stand-up, or they’ll come see me do stand-up and they’re like, ‘Oh wait! This is not what we thought his stand-up would be like at all!’”
Nevertheless, Buress is on the road – he’ll be in Raleigh Friday – doing his “The Hannibal Montanabal Experience” tour. “I actually used the tour title years ago,” he says. “But it doesn’t matter, because nobody knew me then.”
But many people know him now. Let’s hope those same people, if they ever get the chance to meet him, won’t immediately bring up Bill Cosby.
Who: Hannibal Buress
When: 8 p.m. Friday
Where: Memorial Auditorium, Duke Energy Center, 2 E. South St., Raleigh
Info: 919-996-8700 or dukeeneergycenterraleigh.com