Comedian Hannibal Buress on getting arrested, quitting alcohol, and escaping 2020

Hannibal Buress on Startup University Stage during day three of RISE 2019 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre in Hong Kong. Photo by Seb Daly/RISE via Sportsfile

Three years ago, comedian Hannibal Buress was arrested in Miami. He was drunk and asked a police officer to call him an Uber. After a back-and-forth, he started treating the officer’s body camera like it was his own personal YouTube channel. He was charged with disorderly intoxication. 

Hannibal Buress tells that story in his latest standup special called “Miami Nights.” 

Looking back, Buress tells Press Play that the body cam didn’t capture the entire incident, which he says started with the officer following him into a bar.

“He basically instigated and escalated the situation more. And so without that, the feel of it is just it ‘I'm being extremely belligerent.’ But it was just that I was kind of stopped a little bit,” Buress says. 

He says in the moment, he wasn’t afraid for his life, but he was struck at how the officer treated him.

“If you're somebody that is in this position — you got this authority — you should be able to let a couple jokes from a drunk person in Miami fly off of you,” he says. “If it's not a threat, you should let that rock, because as a police officer, you're supposed to be better than the drunk guy on the street in the interaction.”

Following the Miami incident, Buress says he’s stopped drinking. It was taking a toll on his day-to-day interactions and career.  

“I can point to it really costing me a substantial amount of money over time, through losing work, losing a good gig. There were the six figure, hard costs of drinking I could point to,” Buress admits. “And then I saw, after a while, how fat my face was. I definitely couldn’t go back after that. [I] got handsome after I stopped drinking. Girls started saying all types of incredible things.” 

Reflecting on the last year, Buress says he doesn't see the current events as entertaining anymore. 

“Some things you wish you could just watch the documentary of — instead of live through it,” he says. “This is one of them. I just want to watch the docs on this and get me the f— out of here, please!”

This Saturday night, Buress is performing a socially distanced, drive-in show at the Rose Bowl with the musician Thundercat.

— Written by Danielle Chiriguayo and Amy Ta, produced by Brian Hardzinski