SIUC student competes in Las Vegas comedy contest

By Gus Bode

Comedian also performs routine on campus, in Carbondale area

Las Vegas is a city like no other. Few cities can compete with the city’s reputation for gambling, alcohol and showgirls. A select few students have won trips to Las Vegas not to partake in the excitement that the City of Sin offers but to compete for the title of Best College Comedian.

Hannibal Buress, a senior in radio-television from Chicago, was one of the eight finalists chosen in the college division to compete in the Laugh across America comedy contest in conjunction with the Las Vegas Comedy Club. Auditions for the contest were held in 15 U.S. cities, and winners were selected to compete in a variety of categories.


Buress was chosen to compete in his division after an audition in St. Louis. He will receive an all-expense-paid trip to Las Vegas where he will not only compete but also attend a variety of seminars, which cover the history of comedy, basic skills and information about how to become involved in the business. The comedy festival takes place Oct. 29 to Nov. 2. Buress will perform Friday.

He said he stumbled upon the contest while searching the Internet and decided to try it out because the auditions were so close.

“A trip to Vegas is about as big as it gets,” Buress said. “I’ve only been doing it for a year and a half, so having something like that happen early in my career is really cool.”

Buress has also participated in comedy acts on campus and in the community. He is a member of the Student Programming Council committee and has opened for such comedians as Leon Roger and Red Bone through the program.

“I know he will do well and make the crowd laugh,” said La’Chandra Washington, director of SPC. “A lot of his comedy is student-based that everyone can relate to.”

Buress also performs at a local caf each Sunday as a part of a show titled “Sunday School Session.” He will be hosting his own Comedy Night at the Caf, which will feature a variety of local talent.

“There is no big urban market here,” Buress said. “I really want to provide comedians with a chance to practice their craft.”


Buress said he incorporates rap music, sex offender laws and basically anything current into his comedic performances.

“He used to do a student roast as a part of his act,” Washington said. “I think he was a little nervous about doing that, though. He has definitely improved on that.”

A grand prizewinner will be selected from each division at the Las Vegas Competition. The winner will receive a trip to the Comedy Hall of Fame and a trip to Universal Studios and Tampa, Fla., where he or she will perform.

“I always go into the competition expecting to win,” Buress said. “But if I don’t win, I have won already because I got a free trip, and there will also be a lot of agents and seminars there.

“Either way, I come out learning. It’s a win-win situation.”