Eric Andre Is Destroying His Body for His Art, and It's Working
"I'm just trying to distort people's reality in order to blow their mind"
Published Oct 29, 2020In committing more customary set destruction for his talk show's fifth season, Eric Andre enlisted the help of John Cena, who was charged with hurling the comedian into a shelf almost as shiny as his freshly waxed head. A new clip from The Eric Andre Show circulating online this month shows the wrestler launching Andre's limp body clean through the object, but what wasn't captured was Andre's ensuing hospital trip and concussion as a result of the falling furniture cracking him in the dome.
"That might not have been the worst injury, but it put me in the hospital and we lost half a day [of shooting]," Andre tells Exclaim!, clarifying that the CAT scan came back negative before recalling some of the more extreme Eric Andre Show-related damage.
"I've gotten stitches, I put my hand through a car window. I kind of just Acid Dropped onto my spine on concrete before doing a Vivica Fox interview, and was walking crooked for the rest of the year, like the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Towards the beginning, I didn't know what I was doing," he admits. "I didn't know how to do stunts properly. I didn't know you could wear pads, or jump into pads. I was just wiping out on concrete and destroying my body."
In spite of the pain, it's a pleasure for both Andre and his viewers that The Eric Andre Show has recently returned to Adult Swim after a near four-year break between fourth and fifth seasons. That isn't to say he's been quiet: projects outside the show have included spin-off shorts Eric Andre Does Paris and KRFT PUNK'S Political Party!, stand-up special Legalize Everything!, and an album on Stones Throw as Blarf. The most intensive of the bunch remains prank film Bad Trip, which will officially land on Netflix next year after having its release derailed by the coronavirus pandemic.
Andre had previously been unsure if The Eric Andre Show would exist beyond a fifth season, but as editing wound down, he found himself asking, "Why would I want to close the door permanently on something where I have total creative freedom, and is so fun to make?" The comedian counts himself "blessed and fortunate" to have Adult Swim's support behind the brand of surreal silliness that has earned him acclaim — perhaps expectedly, it's been taken to gleaming new heights for his late-night return.
In contrast with the destitution of The Eric Andre Show's delirious fourth season, opulence is what drives season five — evidenced by Andre's aggressive tan, gleaming scalp, pearly white teeth, and a set dressed "like Liberace fucked a Japanese game show."
The constant is that Andre remains as diabolical as ever in his handling of the special guests still lining up, for better or worse, to enter the world of his twisted talk show. Within the first three episodes, Anderson .Paak becomes Anderson Six .Paak as he's forced to funnel beers while drumming, while Saweetie finds nothing sweet about the mechanically enhanced stage furniture. Andre's beloved "Rapper Warrior Ninja" sketch returns with a bigger budget for new and old school contestants, while Machine Gun Kelly can hardly perform under siege from a stun gun and a horde of insects.
"We purposely try to get guests who have no idea what the show is, who have no idea who I am, what my name is, what Adult Swim is," Andre explains, sharing that while some are aware of his rising star, "It doesn't really matter once I'm setting off explosives, electrocuting you, or dropping cockroaches and vermin from the sky. You're gonna have a reaction whether you know me or not, know what I mean?"
Andre points to a whiteboard in a Los Angeles comedy compound ("a writing bungalow") shared with writing partner Dan Curry, on which they plot out a master list of gags for the season. As bookings are confirmed, the two work to match gags to guests "based on their demeanor — and our research." He assures, "We never fake a reaction. None of it is scripted — all spontaneous. All the pranks are real, and all the reactions are real."
Whether terrorizing his subjects in-studio or pranking the public on the street, Andre keeps the words of a shock value vet in mind when it comes to his own provocations. He notes, "I say there's 'good' bad taste, and there's 'bad' bad taste — which isn't even my quote, that's a John Waters quote.
"You don't always knock it out of the park, and you're just throwing spaghetti at the wall sometimes to see what sticks. But there's never malicious intent. I'm never trying to be mean, or trying to punch down. I only want to be absurd and surreal, and I'm just trying to distort people's reality in order to blow their mind."