Caffeinated Comedy: On the Couch with Eric Andre
The new ruler of late-night insanity takes a coffee break with us to talk about what to expect from season three of The Eric Andre Show on Adult Swim.
When Eric Andre taped the pilot for his off-the-wall anti–talk show five years ago, the comedian was operating out of a “semi-legal” bodega in Brooklyn and, running on the fumes of leftover commercial money, basically broke. Eventually picked up by Tim and Eric’s production company Abso Lutely in 2012, The Eric Andre Show crashed into the late-night world at full-speed, offering a fever-dream version of everything you could expect from a talk show—including the strangest set of “guests” ever assembled, such as George Clooney (not really) and Sinbad (really).
Now in its third season, The Eric Andre Show has developed into a low-key success for Adult Swim, swiftly becoming one of the premier showcases of weird and inventive comedy on television. Each ten-minute episode comes at the audience like one of Andre’s trademark stage dives, twisting and inverting the traditional late-night format until what comes out seems less like a talk show, and more like a performance of absurdist comedy theater (which it was, in a sense, in its early incarnation at the Upright Citizens Brigade).
Alongside his co-host, the self-proclaimed “Lenny Bruce of mustache humor,” Hannibal Buress, Andre leads a madcap charge where any possible preconception of what to expect is (literally) thrown out the window. Each week, viewers will be greeted with tough questions (“How tall is the sky?”), fun activities (coffee-chugging), off-site skits (“Who Can Hold The Most Babies?”), and lots and lots of fake vomit.
Andre himself is more refined than some of the gags on his show would indicate (he is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music, for instance), though he would be the last one to admit it. Recently, FLOOD caught up with Andre on a coffee break—something that he considers a hobby (“I’m so lame”)—to discuss his late-night heroes, getting injured on the job, and that time that he got arrested in Rancho Cucamonga.
Were you interested in traditional talk shows growing up? Were you that kid who was staying up super late trying to catch Conan?
Yeah, I loved Conan growing up. Conan was my favorite. I liked mock talk shows the best. I liked Jiminy Glick and Space Ghost and Ali G and all that stuff. Space Ghost, that’s the blueprint for me.
Do you think that the rise of offbeat talk shows in recent years indicates anything about the times, or is it just the result of more creative opportunities arising in TV?
I don’t know. I have no idea. I mean, mock talk shows have been around for a while since, like, Fernwood 2night. And even David Letterman kind of had a mock talk show.
Is Letterman the type of host that you feel is in on the same joke as you?
It started out that way. I think he got a little more conservative as he went along, but definitely in the beginning. If you watch his earliest seasons, he was just like, “Fuck it!”
How about when you go on those talk shows as a guest? Is it weird for you?
No, Conan’s awesome because he gets it, and everything I pitched to them they loved. They’re really supportive and they just have a good sense of humor. Definitely the straighter the talk show host, the more fun it is for me. But I’ve only been on a couple and they were all really awesome. They like comedians, you know what I mean? Jimmy Fallon was awesome. Arsenio was awesome. Conan was fantastic. All those guys are really supportive. They want to make entertaining television so they let me be as fucking insane as I want.
Given that talk shows are seemingly able to go on forever, would you be interested in sticking with The Eric Andre Show indefinitely?
Nah, I think less is more. You gotta keep it short and sweet. I think if you go on too long, people are like, “Eh.” You don’t want to over-saturate. It’s better to just be this flash-in-the-pan, “Woah, what the fuck?” thing, and then leave while the excitement is red hot. Better than going on too long.
Last season you ended up in a Rancho Cucamonga jail for the City Council skit. Did you make it through this season without having to drink any more toilet wine in the slammer?
[Laughs.] No, no, we got the cops called on us way more this season than any other season, but I didn’t get arrested. We were kind of smart about how to handle them coppers. No jail time this year.
Has the crowd’s tendency to recognize you become an issue at all?
Yeah, but this year we were kind of strategic about it. We try not to film in places with a lot of twenty- or thirty-somethings, and a lot of the stuff we were filming I was in costumes or my face was covered up. So I was kind of hidden.
You’ve previously hurt your back and butt pretty seriously during the madness of the show. What’s your injury status coming out of season three?
My butt is good. My back will be fucked up for the rest of my life. Chronic pain. But, you know, stretching. I got a little ice pack on my back-back.
So are you taking it a bit easier on the intros these days?
Nah, I’m just ruining my body. FL
The Eric Andre Show airs Thursdays at 12:15 a.m. on Adult Swim