Hannibal Buress on his Dessa shirt: "Whenever I wear it, people think I'm wearing Prince."

Hannibal Buress on his Dessa shirt: "Whenever I wear it, people think I'm wearing Prince."
Photo: Seth Olenick

For some performers, interviews are easy. They've been through enough media circuits to know how to handle any question thrown their way, slightly tweaking their answers enough to sound genuine and spontaneous. Hannibal Buress isn't one of those performers, which makes him the perfect guest for this week's installment of Wits.

The 30-year-old comedian has seen his career take off over the past year, thanks to appearances on pretty much every late night talk show, his new special, Animal Furnace, and a successful TV show, The Eric Andre Show, on Cartoon Network.

This Friday night, he joins musical guests Open Mike Eagle along with P.O.S. at the Fitzgerald Theater for his first-ever Wits appearance. Earlier this week, we sat down with Buress to talk about his summer, his connection with the Doomtree collective, and gibberish rap battling against John Moe.

How's the summer been going?

Pretty good man. Just been touring, doing standup. I just got done filming season two of The Eric Andre Show. Just staying busy. What's been going on with you?

Not much; just excited to see you at Wits on Friday. Do you know what to expect?

Not really. They told me I might do a few minutes of standup, then maybe some sketches and stuff like that. Honestly, I don't really have any idea what we're doing, but I'm guessing they aren't going to set me up to look bad or anything.

How did you end up getting involved with Wits?

A couple of years ago I was in town at Acme, and I went on MPR to promote it. I ended up talking to John [Moe, host of Wits], and he told me about it. It sounded fun so we booked it and here I am.

It's been a couple of years since you were at Acme, but you've had a pretty tight connection with Minneapolis the past couple of years thanks to your relationship with Doomtree.

Yeah, I did the Doomtree Blowout a couple years ago, and that was really cool, and then I wore my Dessa shirt on Totally Biased. I love that shirt man; I even wore it in my new publicity photo. But whenever I wear it, people think I'm wearing Prince, so I have to explain it.

I don't know if that's a compliment or an insult.

I guess it could be either.

Speaking of rapping, you've been doing something the past few months called "Gibberish Rap." How did you come up with that?

Tony Trimm was doing some different mixtapes, so I decided freestyle for him. I can keep a flow going, but sometimes I don't have the words, so I just went and did some gibberish over the beat and it was kind of catchy. I mean, everybody uses words when they rap; the world doesn't need my words too! So then we went back and did some ad libs over it, and I ended up performing it live.

Would you ever gibberish battle rap against anybody?

Why? Are you calling me out?

No, but I bet John Moe would be down to battle.

Maybe; I guess we'll have to see.

I'll let John know; we'll set it up.

Tickets are still available for Friday's Wits, and can be purchased at witsradio.org. Can't make the live show on Friday? There are other options to catch the fun. Listen live to the audio stream at witsradio.org, or tune-in to MPR News 8 p.m. Saturday, June 15 or 89.3 the Current 9 p.m. Sunday, June 16.

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