Hannibal Buress talks rap and comedy

Hannibal Buress dishes on his Montreal connections and love for hip hop karaoke.

Hannibal Buress.

Turning the big 3-0 is an important milestone for anyone, even for popular comedians like Hannibal Buress.

In obligatory celebrity fashion, Buress hosted his birthday shindig in full public view at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn this past February, but because he’s not, say, Diddy or a Kardashian, the celebration of his birth wasn’t exactly the hottest ticket in town.

“It was my first party like that; not that many people showed up,” Buress says of what ultimately turned out to be an enjoyable bash, attended by the likes of ?uestlove, Action Bronson and someone in a Super Mario costume. “I don’t think I promoted it right. If it’s a party you have to hit up friends directly with texts and email, but I was mentioning it more on Facebook and Twitter, like a show.

“Plus it was on a Monday night, which might have played a part.”

One thing Buress did get to do on the Knitting Factory stage before last call was perform his song, the unintelligibly awesome “Gibberish Rap,” a good dozen times in a drunken state. When he comes to Montreal for Just for Laughs this year, he’ll hopefully have a few other raps in his repertoire: Buress hosts the July edition of Hip Hop Karaoke, Montreal’s monthly rap aficionado get-together at le Belmont.

In an indirect way, Buress actually saved HHK in our fair city. It was two years ago that the comedian trekked from Quartier des Spectacles up to le Belmont, with JFL employee Olivia Benaroche in tow, to perform “Ain’t No Fun (If the Homies Can’t Have None)” by Snoop. Benaroche was so impressed by the night that she became a regular, and then when the original HHK founders left, she and a few colleagues picked up the mantle and have been running it ever since.

“I’ve done a lot for Canada; let’s just add it to the list,” he says.

Buress wouldn’t elaborate on all the other ways he’s improved our lives — not that I’m doubting him — but he has certainly been here a fair bit. This will be his third straight year visiting the festival, even though business outside of Montreal has picked up considerably for him. He signed a development deal with Comedy Central in the States, meaning he’s in the midst of putting together his own TV show, although it’s too early for him to accurately describe his potential starring vehicle.

“It’s not going to be a sitcom or sketch show,” he says. “It’s going to be more based in reality, but it’s going to be about me. And it won’t really be a narrative, either.”

So what exactly is Buress’s reality these days, besides playing NBA 2K13, practising his raps and hosting a weekly comedy night at Knitting Factory?

“I don’t really go out looking for inspiration,” he says. “It’s the everyday trivial stuff that informs what I talk about.” ■

Hannibal Buress performs at l’Astral (305 Ste-Catherine W.) Wednesday, July 24, 9:30 p.m., $35.02. Buress hosts Hip Hop Karaoke at le Belmont (4483 St-Laurent), Thursday, July 25, 11 p.m., $10//$15

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