One night in 2017, comedian Hannibal Buress was out with some friends in Miami. He had a few drinks. Later, he says, by now on his own and with a dead cellphone, he offered a police officer $20 to call Uber for him. Buress says the officer refused, then followed him into a bar and ordered him to leave.
Further argument ensued, during which Buress, standing on the sidewalk, directly addressed the officer’s body camera: “It’s me, Hannibal Buress. This cop’s stupid as [expletive].”
Buress, who is Black, was arrested, charged with misdemeanor disorderly intoxication, and spent the night in jail. The five-minute body-cam video capturing the episode went viral. The incident became the centerpiece of Buress’ comedy special “Miami Nights,” shot in August 2019 and released on YouTube July 3 – just weeks after protests against police brutality began sweeping the nation following the death of George Floyd while in the custody of police in Minneapolis.
Now Buress’ take on the incident is part of his comedy show touring drive-in venues in five cities. The tour, called “Let’s See How This Goes,” hits the Starlight Drive-In, in Butler, on Wed., Sept. 23.
The multimedia show covers lots of ground, including Buress’ take on what it’s like to be "medium famous" (“I constantly talk people out of recognizing me”) and his preferred method of death (“I want my own disease”).
The comedian and actor remains best known for a video of one of his performances that went viral in 2014, in which he revived rape accusations against Bill Cosby. Many credit the video with sparking the series of statements by Cosby's victims that led to his arrest and prosecution.
Buress said his new special’s release during the wave of racial-justice protests was coincidental.
“It was weird for it to line up like that,” he said in a recent interview, speaking by phone from Chicago. “Unfortunately it’s something that’s always relevant to the convo.”
He acknowledged his bad behavior, but said, “As a police officer, you should be more mature than a drunk comedian on the street.”
Though the misdemeanor charge was dropped, Buress said the video cost him some work. In July, Buress filed a wrongful-arrest suit against the city, the Miami Police Department, and two officers.
Buress continues mining the humor in what he calls “a wild story” – including a request he made at the lock-up.
“I really did ask for some Chapstick,” he said. “'Yo, I don’t want to be chap-lipped in this mug shot, so hook me up.’”
Buress said the tour, which begins Sept. 22, in Cleveland, would mark his first drive-in performances. Drive-in theaters are typically located in rural or suburban areas, rather distant from the comedy clubs he’d usually play. But such is life during a pandemic.
“I don’t think regular rules for venues and such count anymore,” said Buress, laughing. “It’s the goddam apocalypse!”
“When else are you gonna see me in Butler, Pennsylvania, in a parking lot?” he said.