The Punk Rock Comedy of Eric Andre
Both professionally and physically, Eric Andre has paid his dues. From boring commercial work, to thankless standup gigs, to working as a Geico Caveman at live events, Andre has done what it takes to make his dream of a twisted, absurdist, ferocious talk show a reality. The Eric Andre Show brings celebrity guests from all across the entertainment spectrum into a DIY, punk rock interview format that flips the traditional ways of late night talk shows on their heads. The path to success has been paved with constant damage, both to the frequently abused set of the show and Andre’s body itself. This willful self-destruction, while incredibly entertaining, serves to prove Andre’s intense commitment to his insane craft. Now entering its third season, The Eric Andre Show premieres tonight (technically, tomorrow morning) at 12:15am on Adult Swim. We had a quick chat with Andre about the show, the comedians who inspire him, and the undying shock value of fake vomit.
The Eric Andre Show premieres this Thursday night on Adult Swim. Who are some of your notable guests for this season?
Oh man, we’ve got Seth Rogen, Jimmy Kimmel, Chris Rock, Wiz Khalifa, Nick Cannon, Lauren Conrad, Asa Akira, Naturi Naughton. Who else? Lil Jon, Action Bronson, Killer Mike, Mac DeMarco, Andy Samberg.
That’s a pretty stacked list. You have a musical background, right?
Do you enjoy working with musicians?
I’m always excited to work with musicians, yes.
When they come on the show, are they always aware of what your show is all about?
Not always. Sometimes they’re aware. It’s case-by-case.
Now that this is your third season, is it getting tougher for you to keep things fresh and still keep the shock value high?
Yeah, it’s always a challenge but I think we accomplished it this season. I feel pretty good.
I saw that you had quite an experience with Lauren Conrad. Can you tell us a little bit about what we’re going to see on her episode this year?
She’s mad at me. I threw up during the interview and she had a strong reaction to it. But I think it was an overall reaction to me and Hannibal because we’re psychotic.
So, we can put her in the category of someone who didn’t know what to expect on the show?
Yes, you could put her in that category for sure.
Why did you throw up?
You know what, I did that last minute. She was talking to Hannibal for a while and I had a cup of fake vomit on my desk and put it in my mouth while she wasn’t looking. When she turned back I was like [makes vomiting sounds]. She thought it was real. She had no idea. It’s boiling in the studio when we shoot, so it’s already kind of nauseating to be in there. Then I had the little accident and she was like, “Later!” I also started slurping the vomit back up so, once she saw that, she was like, “I’m out.” I was also drawing swastikas on my face and asking her for nudes of her husband and I think she just had enough of my antics. It’s all out of love. I’m not trying to be a dick. She’s cool. I have no beef with her. It’s just, you know, I’m a psychopath when I’m doing interviews. I hope she doesn’t take it personally but she didn’t like it too much.
You’ve been doing this for a while now. People refer to your comedy style as ‘cringe comedy’ or ‘wince comedy.’ Is that what you were trying to do from the get-go?
Wait, what do they call it?
Cringe comedy. Wince comedy. I was looking at a Wall Street Journal article about Adult Swim and…
Wince comedy, that’s new.
Not that you would necessarily label it that way but you have to get that this is the reaction people have to your work. Is that what your plan was from the beginning, to just shock and gross out as many people as possible?
It wasn’t such an academic decision. like, “Okay. Here’s what I have to do. I have to offend people.” You know, it’s more organic. You’re just coming up with jokes in the moment or in the writer’s room. Some of them are shocking and some of them make people cringe but clearly, we find them funny as we’re writing and creating.
A lot of the things you do — you could call them stunts, like the firecracker thing on The Jeselnik Offensive – seem to be very much in the moment. Are you saying that a lot of the things on the show are already prepared, or are these moments really happening live?
It’s a combination of both.
How did you and Hannibal get connected?
We’d been doing comedy together in these hideous dive bars all over the East Village on the lower side of Manhattan about eight years ago and I just really loved his stuff. I liked how unique his point-of-view was and how outside of the box he thought and how mellow and chill and low energy he was too, because I was so high energy. I just felt like the two of us would have a good dynamic as far as being dysfunctional talk show hosts.
It really is a good dynamic. Has Hannibal ever said to you, “Hey man, I think this is going a little too far?”
[laughs] Yeah, yeah he has. A couple of times, though it’s rare. 99 percent of the time he’s game. But sometimes he’s like, “What the fuck are you thinking?” And I’m like, “Yeah.” When you’re coming up with stuff, trying to be shocking all of the time and edgy and stuff like that, you’re going to cross the line sometimes.
Do the folks at Adult Swim put any boundaries on what you can and can’t do?
No but there’s a standards department like at any network. Like, I can’t fuck on camera. I can’t show my balls. But creatively, no. They’re like the most nurturing, anything goes kind of network. They’re the best place to be.
You have some live shows coming up as well. Do you ever run in to problems with the live shows? You know, police involvement, indecency complaints, stuff like that.
Well, you know, it’s like a punk show and I’m throwing garbage cans all over the place. Definitely people’s faces have been split open at shows and stuff like that. It gets violent sometimes at shows but it’s all love. It’s like a punk rock show, something I grew up going to. I would bash my face at those all of the time, moshing and stuff like that. You know, just for fun. I’m a huge GG Allin fan so to me, that’s the fun part about going to shows.
Who else is doing comedy that excites you in terms of what they’re doing, maybe because of the punk rock vibe or because of their originality?
I love Hannibal, obviously. Rory Scovel is a guy who I love working with. We had him in our writer’s room last year. He’s just phenomenal and hilarious. Those are my homies. I love them. There’s a new show coming out called Friends of the People. It’s got the Lucas Brothers, Kevin Barnett, Jermaine Fowler, Lil Rel. I love all of those guys. They’re super funny. I’m excited about their new show. Also, Broad City. I love their work.
Got anything else coming up that you want to plug?
Yeah, I’m doing a new show on FXX. It’s called Man Seeking Woman with Jay Baruchel and it’s created by one of the SNL writers, Simon Rich. That’s coming out in January and I’m excited about that.
The Eric Andre Show‘s third season premieres at 12:15am tonight on Adult Swim.