“I’m Hollywood?” Hannibal Buress asked me, completely puzzled as to why I’d be congratulating him on his latest movie role in Tag, where he plays Sable, the only black friend in a group of white dudes who have been playing tag once a year, every year, for the last 30 years. Yeah, let that sink in.
If you know me, you know that I say what comes to mind. And when asking Hannibal about this movie, I called it stupid. I didn’t mean it in a rude way, but mostly was labeling the idea of grown men running around playing tag as silly. He said: “Initially I was like, ‘Yeah, that’s goofy,’ but is it that goofy? I mean, we watch movies with people shooting each other and we’re not like, ‘That’s stupid.’ That is stupid. Somebody just shot somebody in the face. That’s dumb.”
Hannibal laughed at his own joke. Don’t worry, it wasn’t awkward; I laughed, too.
“My stand-up actually plays better than movies,” he said in a humble brag, and I interrupted him by saying, “Oh, you been Hollywood?”
Hannibal then guffawed and started talking about the progression of his career. He humbly shared that he had two lines in Kings of Summer, then Neighbors gave him a few lines, and Daddy’s Home was slightly bigger.
“It’s nice to have this progression. In this role, I’m in it pretty heavily. I think the moviegoing audience [is] familiar with me, and so, now people can see me do my thing as a lead,” he said.
Yassss, lead role! But wait, Hannibal is one of those comedic actors who basically get cast to be themselves. “ I don’t have much acting range at all,” he said, laughing.
Getting to run around playing tag for a movie of the same name isn’t the craziest thing in the world you could do with your friends annually. I asked Hannibal if he was aware that people get paid to play video games and make videos of themselves playing, and that folks would rather watch them play than play themselves.
I think I inspired Hannibal to create his own YouTube gamer channel, with a twist. “Yeah, that’s my next move. That’s actually way easier than movies. If I could make half-a-million dollars a year playing video games,” Hannibal started.
But then my wheels turned, leading me into a lucrative decision for Hannibal, and that’s merging the weirdly popular autonomous sensory meridian response, or ASMR, trend with gaming.
“I just got put on to that actually because this comedian, Brandon Wardell, is putting out a comedy ASMR album,” Hannibal said. “I don’t know if I want that, though. I might have to delete that stuff.” He was talking about the ASMR trend, not Wardell’s album.
Tag required Hannibal to run around playing tag with his friends. I was curious: If he had the chance to play tag with anyone he wanted, anywhere he wanted, who would he play with and where? Hannibal said, “I have some follow-up questions.” I laughed and he continued with his questions: “Am I just playing for the excitement and the competition? Or is it a guaranteed win? If it’s to win, then I would say whoever the last four people on My 600-Pound Life were. I’m trying to win.”
After giving the question some additional consideration, Hannibal said he’d play tag with Dionne Warwick, Peabo Bryson and Sade. “I’d do it running around New Orleans during Essence Fest while ‘Before I Let Go’ by Frankie Beverly and Maze is playing. We will play tag in white linen because that’s Essence.”
And in case you were wondering, yes, Hannibal Buress would play tag with Kanye West. “Kanye has a cameo in tag, actually,” Hannibal joked.”Wouldn’t that be crazy if that’s what he was doing all that for? He’s in Tag.”
I just want to be clear, Yeezy is not in Tag. They don’t need another token black guy. Hannibal is enough.
What’s next for Hannibal?
“I’m just really trying to learn Brazilian capoeira or some type of martial arts,” he said. “There’s martial arts camps around the world where you can go to a different country for a month and you just train, like Muy Thai kickboxing. I want to start traveling in a different way. There’s a lot of places I haven’t been to. I want to start exploring and really dig into the culture.”
Will you be watching Hannibal Buress in Tag? It’s in theaters June 15.