“New York is a good place to try new material,” standup comic Hannibal Buress says. “There’s so many places to perform, you can do three and four shows in a night.”
In addition to his own weekly Sunday-night show at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn, some of Buress’ favorite low-pressure spots in the city include “Whiplash,” a free workout room hosted by Leo Allen every Monday night at UCB; “Sweet,” hosted by Seth Herzog every Tuesday at Ella; “Big Terrific,” with Max Silvestri, Gabe Liedman, and Jenny Slate on Wednesday nights at Cameo; and Eugene Mirman’s “Pretty Good Friends” every Sunday night at Union Hall in Brooklyn. He tends to inhabit the downtown clubs in the Village or the Lower East Side rather than Times Square.
Just because it’s a good place doesn’t mean he’ll always have a good show, though.
“Sometimes the audience isn’t great, but it’s your job as a performer to navigate that,” he says. “There’s bad shows, but bad shows make you want to do it more, because I’ve got to get that taste out of my mouth. That’s the good thing about New York. If you have a bad set, you can go and do another set.”
As a standup comedian, Buress is familiar with rejection in many forms. “That’s what standup is,” he says. “You want people to enjoy the things you have to say, or your thoughts or perspective, but that is the nature of standup that it’s super subjective and everybody doesn’t like it. But I don’t need everybody to like it. Just a couple hundred in every city.”
Hannibal Buress will appear on the cover of Back Stage on July 5, 2012. Pick up a copy!
Daniel Lehman is a staff writer at Back Stage. Follow him on Twitter: @byDanLehman