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The Intended Madness Of Comic Eric Andre's 'Anti-Talk Show'

Dec 8, 2013
Originally published on December 8, 2013 4:12 pm

Late-night comedy show hosts are known for opening their programs in a certain style. David Letterman takes to the stage with a wave and a smile. Jay Leno comes out and shakes hands with the audience.

Eric Andre takes quite a different approach: flying into an uncontrollable rage as soon as the band plays him on and smashing nearly everything on the set.

"During the intro of my show, I hurt myself, I hurt my shoulder pretty bad. I hurt my back really bad," he tells All Things Considered host Arun Rath.

"I jumped on my desk and landed right on my tuckus during the Vivica Fox interview and I just like wrenched my back and sent a shock wave up my spine. ... My back still feels kind of asymmetrical."

The Eric Andre Show lasts just 15 minutes, and appears in the middle of the night during on the Cartoon Network.

Nothing about the show is normal, least of all the celebrity interviews — which he conducts with outrageous questions and stunts that sometimes border on mockery. Andre says he's not trying to be mean.

"Nothing I'm doing is meant to be mean-spirited because that's not fun or funny. Anybody can be mean," he says. "It's more about just being absurd and just wildly inappropriate for the sake of comedy."

Spin Magazine has called it "the weirdest show on TV."

Still, it's generated a rabid fan base. The show wraps its second season Thursday, and has been picked up for a third season.


Interview Highlights

On the vision behind the show

It is like a mock-talk show or an anti-talk-show talk show, where I just destroy the talk show from the beginning to the end — deconstructing ... the fact that most talk show hosts have to just be overly polite and be like, "You're so great, Victoria's Secret model who doesn't know anything! We're best friends."

And I just think it's way funnier for a host to just be completely uninformed and spaced out and apathetic.

Do celebrity guests know what they're getting into?

Some people are totally in the dark. Some people don't even know the name of the show or who I am before they do it. Like, we had Demi Lovato on the show for the New Year's special. And I called her up, I just wanted to like call her up and be like, "Hey thanks so much for doing the show," before she came on. And she goes, "I just wanna let you know I've seen your Billion Dollar Movie a hundred times." And I was like, "Oh no, that's Eric Wareheim. That's 'Tim and Eric' Eric."

And then she goes, "Oh." ...

I just kept my fingers crossed that she wouldn't cancel.

On getting the show renewed for a third season

I'm so happy it's all working out because I was so broke for like 10 years trying to make a living doing comedy. I was eating beans by candle light for a decade. It's nuts that people are listening to the demons in my brain. But it's awesome. I can't believe it.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ARUN RATH, HOST:

David Letterman takes to the stage with a wave and a smile. Jay Leno comes out and shakes hands with the audience. Eric Andre does this.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE ERIC ANDRE SHOW")

(SCREAMING, CRASHING NOISES)

RATH: You can kind of get a sense of it without me really describing it. He basically is a maniac. He goes into an uncontrollable rage destroying everything around him as the band plays on. This actually is a comedy program, a different kind of comedy program. It's sort of like Luis Bunuel directing "Jackass." "The Eric Andre Show" lasts just 15 minutes, and it appears in the middle of the night on the Cartoon Network. Still, it's generated a rabid fan base. Host Eric Andre is here with me in the studio. Welcome, Eric.

ERIC ANDRE: Thank you. Thank you for having me.

RATH: Thank you for not trashing the studio.

ANDRE: Oh, no problem.

RATH: I don't think it's quite as breakaway, though, as yours.

(LAUGHTER)

ANDRE: Yeah, I wouldn't. I'd get hurt.

RATH: Have you ever hurt yourself doing that?

ANDRE: Yeah. I hurt myself during a Vivica Fox interview. I hurt my back really bad.

RATH: You go flying through the wall, destroy your desk in multiple ways.

ANDRE: Yeah. I jumped on my desk and landed right on my tuckus during the Vivica Fox interview, and I just, like, wrenched my back and just sent a shockwave up my spine.

RATH: Wow.

ANDRE: Yeah. My back still feels kind of asymmetrical.

RATH: You suffer for your art.

ANDRE: Yeah. You know, I'm an idiot.

RATH: Well, beyond the insane opening - or, I mean, not that the show gets saner as you go along, but could you try to explain the show for people who have not seen it?

ANDRE: It is like a - kind of like a mock talk show or an anti-talk show talk show where I just destroy the talk show from the beginning to the end, deconstructing, like, the fact that most talk show hosts have to just be, like, overly polite and pump up the guest and be like, you're so great, Victoria's Secret model that doesn't know anything. (makes noise) We're best friends. And I just think it's way funnier for a host to just be, like, completely uninformed and spaced out and apathetic.

RATH: I want to give people a sense of the show for - here's going to be a typical celebrity interview Eric Andre style. This is with Mel B....

ANDRE: Oh, great.

RATH: ...former Spice Girl. And, well, it's a pretty simple sort of question.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE ERIC ANDRE SHOW")

RATH: I bet she hasn't been asked that question before.

(LAUGHTER)

ANDRE: I think I threw her off a little bit.

RATH: Be honest. How much of the celebrity guests that you have on - are they in on the joke? Do they know what they're getting into?

ANDRE: To varying degrees, some people are totally in the dark. Some people don't even know the name of the show or who I am before they do it. Like, we had Demi Lovato on the show for the New Year's special. And I called her up, I just wanted to, like, call her up and be like, hey, thanks so much for doing the show before she came on. And she goes: I just want to let you know I've seen your "Billion Dollar Movie" 100 times. And I was like: Oh, no. That's Eric Wareheim. That's "Tim and Eric" Eric.

And then she goes, oh. And I was like, I'm Eric Andre. And she's like, uhh? And then I was just like, see you tomorrow. So I just kept my fingers crossed that she wouldn't cancel. But, yeah, Lou Ferrigno had no idea what was going - we have this great promo...

RATH: Lou Ferrigno got kind of uncomfortable.

ANDRE: He was - he came the closest to walking out of any guests we ever had.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE ERIC ANDRE SHOW")

RATH: Still a big guy.

ANDRE: He's huge. He's a monster. We wrangled him back in. But he was upset. We had this skinny Asian guy, we painted him green, and he came out as the Hulk while I was interviewing Lou Ferrigno. I was like, Lou, hold on a second. My next guest is the Incredible Hulk. And this little Asian guy came out and sat next to him and just kept hitting on Lou the entire interview.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE ERIC ANDRE SHOW")

RATH: What I like was Lou wasn't quite homophobic. He was more like, do not get the green on me.

ANDRE: Yeah. He was more worried about - he was more concerned with the paint getting on him.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE ERIC ANDRE SHOW")

ANDRE: But he looked at me, he was like, did you bring me on this show specifically to mock me? And I was like, so what have you been up to? How was "Celebrity Apprentice"?

RATH: Well, that's kind of the thing, though. Did you?

ANDRE: No. I mean...

RATH: I mean, it's a fine line, sometimes with this humor, right?

ANDRE: It's a fine line. But I think - yeah, it is a fine line. I think it's like, comedy should never be, like, mean - nothing I'm doing is meant to be like mean-spirited because that's not fun and - or funny. And, like, anybody can be mean. It's more about just being absurd and just like wildly inappropriate for the sake of comedy itself. I don't know.

RATH: Your - you got renewed for a third season just now.

ANDRE: Yeah.

RATH: This is connecting with people, this...

ANDRE: It's crazy.

RATH: ...insane thing that you're doing.

ANDRE: I know. It's awesome, man. I'm so happy and - it's all working out, because I was so broke for, like, 10 years trying to make a living doing comedy. I was eating beans by candlelight for a decade. It's nuts that people are listening to the demons in my brain. But I'm happy. It's awesome. I can't believe it.

RATH: That's Eric Andre. He's the host of "The Eric Andre Show" on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim. The finale of Season 2 will air this Thursday night. Eric Andre, thank you.

ANDRE: Thank you.

RATH: Real fun talking with you.

ANDRE: That was fun. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.