Eric Andre's been in the game a while, and while his show, Adult Swim's The Eric Andre Show, is far from the most highbrow thing to ever grace our screens, that doesn't mean watching it is any less fun. After a two-year hiatus, season six of this chaotic talk/prank show just released its first few episodes, but not before our friends in Adult Swim marketing threw an event that not only channeled Andre's in-your-face energy, but provided a quick chat with the man himself, in order to reignite our collective fire for chroma green bodysuits and over-the-top street-comedy antics.
The Friday prior to the premiere of season six, I was invited to one such event, referred to as a "Smash Bash," at a random location in SoHo, New York City. Once inside, all that stood before me was a wall that said "Adult Swim The Eric Andre Show Smash Bash," a TV that played a loop of clips from the new season, a velvet curtain and what appeared to be a huge sculpture made of suspended junk that kinda looked like Andre's face if you stood in the right place.
My imagination wandered as the sound of Andre's voice, followed by sounds of various things breaking, floated from behind the mysterious curtain. I eventually noticed that no-one who went behind the curtain before me ever came back, and just as my excitement turned into the smallest bit of concern, I began to think about the waiver I signed upon entering, and what that might mean I was in for.
Before I could start planning my escape, however, my name was called, and Andre himself appeared, cheering me on while I was urged to destroy a small replica of the stage on his real set. (Andre smashes things on his set at the start of each show. I'm not sure why, but it works.) Not wanting to disappoint, at the end of a quick countdown I enthusiastically launched into a barrage of crowbar swings that destroyed glass, everything on the bookshelf, and the sign over Andre's desk. Towards the end of my turn, I went for a ceiling tile that was under the desk and broke it over my head.
As expected, eventually the timer ran out and the fun was over. I noticed that my heart was pumping pretty hard (because breaking a bunch of stuff is a lot of cardio, you know, and I'm not as young as I used to be). But it was time to talk to Andre, so I did my best to suck it up and control my breathing. At this point, Andre was off to the side, patiently waiting to speak to me.
Me: Is it harder to do these as you go on? I imagine more and more people recognize you with each passing season.
Eric Andre: Yeah, that's kind of why I do a disguise or a drastically different look, but we also just avoid the demographic. Like, I don't prank people under 40. I try to prank middle age or older. The show is for the youth. For the "yoots!"
Me: How "in on the joke" are your celebrity guests?
Andre: None of them are in on the joke. I can't help it if they recognize me or know the show, but I don't tell them anything.
Andre: I don't meet them until they're on camera and I'm fuckin' with them.
Me: Even when you do the "Rapper Ninja Warrior" segment?("Rapper Ninja Warrior" is a segment where rappers are asked to rap while trying to complete a ridiculous obstacle course, usually blindfolded.)
Andre: Yeah, I mean … That is not like an interview. It's a little bit different. I'll tell them like, 'Hey, you're gonna do an obstacle course,' but I don't tell them what I'm gonna do. That especially relies on the element of surprise.
Me: Do you ever regret the decision to break stuff every time you come in? You ever wake up and be like, "I don't feel like throwing myself through a desk today"?
Andre: No. No regrets.
Me: Nice. Do you find it cathartic?
Andre: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Tremendously.
Me: In a show where everything's kind of … nuts … how do you draw the line with the stuff that hits the cutting-room floor? Is it stuff like, "Oh, this is too crazy," or is it mostly a time thing?
Andre: Well, too crazy is good. There is a time thing, though. We'll do like, test screenings to see where we get a laugh, but we only keep the best of the best stuff.
It must be true, what Andre said about only keeping the best of the best stuff, partially because of how short each episode is. With an average running time of 12 minutes a pop, there just isn't room for anything other than the absolute best material. I do find the shortness of each episode, coupled with the somewhat disjointed nature of each skit shown, to be refreshing in its own way. The Eric Andre Show has little to no plot, a runtime that makes it easily digestible when on-the-go and it's mind-numbingly funny. The only real question I have left is the same one Andre asks out loud right after the opening of this new season's first episode: "Where's [former co-host] Hannibal [Buress]?"
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