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Hannibal Buress Surprises the Crowd at The Footlight's Inaugural NYC Talent Show — People on Bushwick Daily

Hannibal Buress Surprises the Crowd at The Footlight's Inaugural NYC Talent Show

Add NYC Talent Show into your weekly repertoire of events—and get ready for more surprise star power!

Last night marked the first of many weekly talent shows at The Footlight, the sweet new bar and event space near the Bushwick-Ridgewood border. The event would have been delightful even with just the billed acts, but as it happened, attendees were treated to an outrageous, delightful six minute Hannibal Buress set (though if memory serves this reporter right, Buress went a couple minutes past the 6 minute ding).

The format at the talent show is very consistent - attendees are allotted six minutes to do what they do best: “It's an interdisciplinary open stage. Performance Art, Music, Comedy, Poetry, Pooping... whatever,” explain the organizers on the Facebook group page for The Original NYC Talent Show.

Talent show hosts Victor Varnado and Tim Shea referred to Buress’ appearance in acts leading up to Buress, but many in the audience assumed the reference was just a gag. “I thought it was a joke,” noted attendee Anthony Alvarado, a huge fan of Buress (to be honest, when Buress took the stage, all of us were frantically gathering our jaws from the ground).

Varnado and Buress have been friends since they met in Chicago ten years ago. “Back then he was unknown and struggling financially. Obviously he has turned all that around dramatically,” Varnado tells Bushwick Daily.

Buress’ original plan was to hang out and be there for his friend. Varnado gave him a little nudge - he tells us an exchange along these lines took place between him and his friend:

“VARNADO: You want to go on stage so I can take a picture and help promote the show and the bar?

BURESS: No man I just came to hang.

VARNADO: C'mon man, you have to use your celebrity for more than just meeting ladies..

BURESS: (Laughs) Okay.”

Photo by Cristin Noonan for Bushwick Daily

“It used to be me, Baron Vaughn, Hannibal, and Eric Andre who hung out a lot.  All of them have gone on to do a lot in front of the camera and I have mostly done work behind the camera. Also in front of course, but not at the same level as those guys," Varnado says.

Back in those days, Varnado hosted the weekly event with Diane O’Debra. "When NYC Talent show was at Bowery Poetry Club, since we were friends, Hannibal would stop by often and hang out, perform, or just shoot the shit.”

Around the same time, The Awkward Comedy Show, a special which Varnado created and directed and which starred Varnado, Vaughn, Buress, and Andre as well as Marina Franklin, aired on Comedy Central.

Tim Shea and Kris Thompson held down a year and a half stint at Dixon Place in hosting a spin-off of the original NYC talent show: The NYC Talent Showdown.

“At [the new] NYC talent show, Tim and I really want to create a community, a place where people really want to be. It is a collaborative effort—even though I am obviously super loud,” says Varnado.

Footlight owner Laura Regan tended bar at Dixon Place back then and so she also had a hand in establishing the NYC talent showdown. Kyle Thompson also contributed to the weekly talent show efforts in the early days.

Some other noteworthy acts from last night's talent show:

Rev Jen helped kick the evening off.

Lauren Piper (a contributor to this website) tap danced while constructing and devouring a sandwich, which was very briefly passed around the crowd.

Regan played piano and sang and broke hearts while doing so.

Jay Winston Gill told a story about the first hour of him living in Los Angeles.

Ryan Wicker went as the Minister of Science and educated the audience on plagues and why llamas suck.

Buress performance aside, everybody seriously held it down. (During intermission there was a writing contest for what Donald Trump’s new campaign slogan should be, and this Bushwick Daily reporter won. Hint: it’s the title of a Disturbed song. Because I won, I was treated to a beer chugging contest, which, as anticipated, I lost. Hats off to Wicker (Minister of Science) who won.)

The Footlight has only been open for a few weeks and has very quickly proved itself deserving of the neighborhood's attention. Check it out! They also have coffee, so not only can you drink and have fun doing so (and, hey, maybe Hannibal Buress will show up)—you’re also welcome to park your laptop there.

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The Footlight

Cool new Ridgewood bar + performance venue

 465 Seneca Ave, New York, 11385

 https://www.facebook.com/thefootlightbar

Mon-Sun 12 PM - 2 AM

 (617) 281-8379

Follow the The Unknown Bar on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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