People's Party

Hannibal Buress Explains How ADHD Made It Hard For Him To Be Effective As A Writer On ‘30 Rock’ And ‘SNL’

On next week’s episode of People’s Party with Talib Kweli, Jasmin Leigh and Kweli chop it up with Hannibal Buress where they got into some of the comedian’s early struggles to find a place for his unique brand of comedy and his stated desire to mostly riff on his own personality as an actor. The comic teased his acting range while discussing his scene-stealing role as Lincoln Rice in Broad City.

“That character, were you given free rein to develop that character?” Kweli asks. “Because it seems a lot like you.”

To which Buress replies, “Yeah, I don’t really stretch too much as an actor, you’re going to get me how I am that day.”

That confident nonchalance and a distinct, deadpan delivery have endeared Buress to audiences time and time again, whether he’s playing Lincoln in Broad City, a character named Hannibal in High Maintenance, a character named Hannibal in 30 Rock, himself in Crashing, or even burning it up on the stage doing stand-up. But before Hannibal carved a place for himself (playing himself) in the stand-up and in the comedy television world, he was struggling to find a home for his work as a short-lived writer on 30 Rock and SNL.

“I don’t think I was really suited for sketch writing at that time,” says Buress of his SNL stint. “I think I was better suited for something more on camera or working in tandem with somebody… And then 30 Rock, it was dope but it wasn’t for me to be in the writer’s room just for what my energy was and my level of focus. I have ADHD, and it was undiagnosed at the time but just being in those types of settings, I wasn’t functioning, I didn’t function at my peak at all.”

It’s hard to imagine that Hannibal Buress — a well-known workaholic in the comedy world who juggles multiple projects per year — was ever not functioning at his peak. To hear how Buress’ cabin fever working in writer’s rooms led to him redoubling his efforts on the standup scene and how his early career successes (and struggles with ADHD) led to where he is now, check out the People’s Party clip above.

The full Hannibal Buress episode of People’s Party with Talib Kweli drops on Monday at 9am ET.