"This one girl said she wanted me to flick pickle juice into her eyes."
Hannibal Burress is going to be a huge star any day now. Maybe it'll happen after his new standup special, Hannibal Burress Live From Chicago, premieres on Comedy Central March 29th. Maybe it'll be a cumulative thing, from his recurring roles on Comedy Central's Broad City and FX's Chozen and his gig co-hosting Adult Swim's The Eric Andre Show. Perhaps it'll be from his live standup, which can be seen every Sunday at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn if he's not on tour. He spoke to Nerve about his endless gigs and how to handle awkward sexual situations (basically, just be cool).
You have recurring roles on Broad City and Chozen, you co-host the Eric Andre Show, you’re touring and you have a new hour special, so how do you find time to do it all?
They all happen at different times…Chozen doesn’t take a lot of time at all. I just go into a studio for an hour, and that’s an episode of Chozen, just one hour. Broad City & Eric Andre, I don’t tour as much when I’m doing those shows, but if I do need to tour a little bit, I can be flexible with the schedule. I do have a lot of stuff going right now, but it’s been pretty easy to manage so far.
But you don’t have as much free time, probably. Not as much time to play video games and stuff.
No, I still play lots of video games, man! I play video games all the time. When I’m in New York, I just play video games. I go to basketball games, I go see a lot of concerts. No, a lot of free time.
See any good concerts recently?
I saw Earl Sweatshirt. I saw the Yeezus tour! I went down to Newark and saw Kanye West. His show’s amazing.
Did he say anything inspirational?
He did say something inspirational, actually, but he didn’t inspire me. He said, “if you believe you can do anything, put your hands in the air!” and I didn’t put my hands in the air. I think there’s limitations to what I could do. I feel like I could do great things, I’m capable of doing some cool stuff, but not anything. I think that’s false inspiring. I don’t think you should tell people they can do anything, because people can’t do anything. There’s a lot of stuff I couldn’t do. I probably couldn’t even be in the FBI.
He’s from Chicago, you’re from Chicago, a lot of comedians are from Chicago. Why are so many comedians from Chicago?
[Big laugh] Can you word the question like that? Don’t change any of the wording when it’s on the website. “He’s from Chicago, you’re from Chicago, a lot of comedians are from Chicago…” I don’t know, man, I think it’s the city having a good combination of lots of places to perform, there’s Second City, obviously the Improv, and sketch influence, plus there’s lots of standup history there, so Chicago has kinda become the place in the Midwest to go where you can kinda start out with lower stakes.
So if you’re a comedian that’s starting out in Cleveland, or you’re from Indianapolis or something, and you wanna get into comedy, or other stuff in the arts, too, music, whatever, but you don’t wanna take that plunge yet of moving to NY or LA, Chicago is a good place to go, because it has great comedy, music, has all these great things, and it’s not super expensive, either. So it’s natives, and then lots of people move to Chicago, because it’s that type of place where you can start out.
Where do you most often get noticed from?
Recently it’s a lot of Broad City. People stopping me on the street, it’s a lotta people watching Broad City, man. It’s cool. People don’t even know I do standup, they’re just like, “you’re the dude from Broad City!”
Some of my favorite bits of yours are about animals. You know, lizards, and then in the new special, you say “all rats are dudes.” All rats are dudes, but what animal would be the most attractive woman?
Hmm. Aw man. Giraffes seem feminine, right? Flamingos…What else? Ladybugs are ladies.
Ladybugs seem to me sort of like a babushka type.
What the fuck is a babushka?
You, know like an old grandmother.
Oh. You Jewish, man? Is that a Jewish term?
I’m not, but I think it is. It’s like a Russian Jewish term. I think it’s a thing you wear on your head.
Have you ever gotten laid after bombing?
No. If I’ve gotten laid after bombing, I was probably in a relationship at the time. It has happened, but it was with someone who already loved me. I mean, early on I probably hooked up after some so-so open mic set or something.
What’s the weirdest come on that someone has said after a show?
Nothing super weird. This one girl said she wanted me to flick pickle juice into her eyes. I don’t know what type of pickle juice she was talking about, but…
Was that a fantasy of hers before she heard your bit about pickle juice?
No, I think she was just connecting the bit and life.
What’s the best way to orchestrate a threesome?
I don’t know, man. The one that I had, I didn’t expect it to happen it just kinda did, and it wasn’t really a full-on threesome, [laughs]. You know, it was sorta, like I was kissing one girl. I think the best way to do it, you gotta put the woman in charge probably. In terms of orchestrating, though, I don’t know. That’s a question for a different dude.
My girlfriend wants me to talk dirty to her, but I feel weird and phony doing it. How can I get outside of my head enough to do it right?
I think you just have to do it. That’s just about doin’ it, you know? You gotta practice. And you know, sometimes talking dirty is just about saying what you’re doing right at the moment and asking them if they like it. “You like how I’m grabbing your tits?” It’s almost like you’re being your own commentator, your own hypeman, you’re narrating your own thing. That’s pretty much it — think of yourself as the narrator. “You like that, don’t you?” “I like that.” That’s one way to look at it. Or watch some porn, see what they do, tone it down a little bit, just do that. It’s not that tough.
How do I last longer in bed?
You gotta jack off before sex. There’s the other thing where you’re supposed to think about weird stuff, but that never worked for me. Also, you know, sometimes it’s just meant to be quick! If you go quick, that’s life, you know? If you really care about what the girl thinks, then eat the box after that, so she can get hers, and if not, you know. But I think masturbating is the way to do it.
Is it acceptable if your partner cheats on you and claims alcohol or drugs as the reason?
Nah, you can’t claim alcohol or drugs for cheating on somebody. You can claim alcohol for saying some weird shit, though. “I was drunk, I’m sorry I said that.” But as far as cheating, that’s not a solid excuse at all.
So what’s next for you? Have you thought about doing a mixtape?
I have thought about doing a mixtape, yeah. But it’s tough to get focused, man. I really do wanna try to make some beats and music, and maybe even make some non-goofy, non-comedy rap. Like I said, I do have a lot of free time, but it’s tough to harness that free time, to focus and get the work done. But I like recording songs every now and then. I do record some freestyles and stuff, even if I don’t put it out.
So you can actually rap?
I mean, I have my moments. I wouldn’t call myself a rapper, but I do okay.
You wouldn’t do a Childish Gambino. You wouldn’t stop doing standup to rap.
I probably wouldn’t stop doing standup. And Gambino does standup all the time, he’s just in disguise. As Bill Burr. That’s the headline right there! We found the headline! “Donald Glover Is Actually Bill Burr.”
I could kinda see that, actually. They have similar hair.
Photography by Constance Kostrevski and Tasos Katopodis.