Why Hannibal Buress Is Hosting the Webby Awards

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Hannibal Buress

"I like to do things that are a little different or that might make me nervous a little bit," says the comedian and 'Broad City' actor.

It's been a busy year for Hannibal Buress. The comedian booked a role on Comedy Central's Broad City, landed a series of his own on the cable net and set off on a nationwide tour. Now he's adding award show host to his resume. 

Buress will make his hosting debut Monday at the 19th Annual Webby Awards, the annual fete honoring techies and digital stars. The crowd at Cipriani Wall Street on May 18 should be in good spirits for his first shot as Webbys MC. Winners were announced in April and those in attendance are there to collect congratulations and give five-word acceptance speeches — a Webby Awards staple. And he got a little practice hosting the Deep Webbys, a Funny or Die sketch that poked fun at the seedy back channels of the Internet. 

Buress spoke to The Hollywood Reporter ahead of the event, revealing why he likes doing things that make him nervous and who he turned to for inspiration. 

You're busy these days, so why take the time in the middle of your tour to host the Webby Awards?

It's an opportunity to try something different. I've never hosted an awards show before, so it's just an opportunity to learn a different skill, get some experience under my belt and do a fun event. 

How are you preparing for your first time?

I'll probably get a couple friends to write with me and try to come up with a few ideas that they'll work with. I'll watch a couple of the previous shows to get an idea of the flow and the tone and then try to have my take on it and come up with a bunch of ideas, try them at the comedy clubs and just try to be entertaining and interesting. 

Is there anyone you'll look to for hosting inspiration?

Seth Meyers did a good job at the ESPYS. That would be a dream gig for me to host the ESPYS because I’m a really big sports fan. I watched him do that a couple times and it was really cool. 

Are you a tech aficionado yourself?

I like the website WorldStarHipHop a lot and the app Seamless. 

Some of your videos — like the ones being honored at the Webbys — have gone viral. Is that something you think about when planning your standup? 

I just want to do funny stuff. I’m not thinking in terms of making something go viral or not. I don’t really think like that anyway. I posted a heckler video and it got 800,000 views in a week. I wasn’t expecting that. I was expecting it to get picked up but it was more to promote my tour date. But you never really know with that kind of stuff. If I do a restaurant review, I know it’ll get picked up on food blogs. There’s some stuff that gets picked up but you never really know what’s going to go viral — except for fight videos. Everybody loves fight videos and they always go viral. 

What are you looking forward to the most?

Just the gig itself. I've never done it before. I like to do things that are a little different or that might make me nervous a little bit. Like, in Austin during SXSW I tweeted out that I'd play drums in somebody's band. I’m bad at drums, I've never played drums before. Then I got there and said, "I don't want to do this." I was real nervous before. I didn't know their songs, I didn’t know their music. But it was something I'd never done before and I felt that it was exciting.