Standup comic Hannibal Buress’s career is on fire, but his persona onstage and off is preternaturally calm: "People always think I’m high. ‘Hannibal, are you high?’ No. I’m just cooler than you." Given his upcoming July 25th appearance on Comedy Central’s Live at Gotham, plus recent guest spots on Late Night with Craig Ferguson, Red Bar Radio, and at the prestigious Montreal Comedy Festival, one thing’s clear—the blissed-out act works. Tucking into his spring roll at a local Thai joint, the 25-year-old Chicago native reprises a bit at my request: "When I want cheap liquor, I go to gallery openings and lie like I care about the art. ‘Your color schemes are excellent, and your attention to detail is great. Can I get another glass of white wine, please? You’re the next Picasso. Or whoever your favorite artist is, you’re the next—that guy. You’re in my top three—Picasso, the dude who painted the dogs playing poker, and you’re third.’"
Buress tackles his subjects with surgical precision, claiming a patch of turf halfway between droll and sublime. How much leftover pickle juice should a bachelor flick at a sandwich for maximum flavor? Yes, that’s actually a joke he’s working on, and the answer depends: "There are a lot of variables," he says casu-ally. Don’t let his slacker act fool you: Buress has been a fixture on local stages virtually every night since he turned 21.
Photograph: Ryan Robinson