If you expect actor and comedian Eric André to go right, he’ll go left. If you expect to log in to Instagram without seeing nudity, André will post an uncensored shot of his penis. If you turn on the TV expecting to see a standard late-night talk show, Andre will be there to destroy his desk with a chainsaw and projectile vomit. Andre’s brand of comedy defies expectations.
Coming up in the New York comedy scene, André struggled to gain an audience while working a series of small-time acting gigs. Around 2010, he began appearing in a number of mainstream sitcoms like “The Big Bang Theory” before gaining a co-starring role in the short-lived ABC sitcom “Don’t Trust The B---- in Apartment 23” in 2012. Later that year the pilot for “The Eric André Show,” André’s unusual take on the talk-show format, was picked up by Adult Swim.
In retrospect, it seems ridiculous to imagine André hanging out in the same boring universe as a character like Sheldon, let alone starring in a show that aired in a primetime slot. TEAS is an 11-minute talk show in which André, along with cohost Hannibal Buress, performs bizarre monologues, openly antagonizes his celebrity guests and regularly gets into brutal physical fights with members of the show’s house band. TEAS also features on-the-street segments that resemble something more akin to “Jackass,” with André pulling off a variety of outlandish pranks on unsuspecting New Yorkers.
As it approaches its fourth season, TEAS has gotten continually stranger, with no relief in sight. “There’s gonna be lot more vermin and pestilence this season. A lot more full-frontal male nudity,” promises André, adding, “Season 4 will be the Eraserhead season. Imagine if Kim Jong-un was directing a TV show. It will be like that.”
The success of TEAS has kept André on a steady touring schedule and made him a big name among alternative comedy fans. He is now pulling double duty as the star of TEAS and co-starring opposite Jay Baruchel in the surrealist FXX dating comedy “Man Seeking Woman.”
André’s anarchic brand also extends to his social media. He regularly posts nude photos on Instagram and Twitter, though he is yet to be banned from any social site. “I don’t think it’s Instagram that hates me,” says André. “It’s just that they have to follow certain guidelines since they’re selling an app. It’s really Apple that puts pressure on them to not have any nudity. Apple is like the fucking Wizard of Oz.
“I can’t get too preachy, because I’m talking to you on an iPhone and I have an iPad and a laptop and shit, so I’m essentially a hypocrite for criticizing them. But they’re evil, they’ve got sweatshops and shit. You know that guy who took the iPhone prototype home and reported on it and they had a SWAT team break his door down? Yeah. They suck.”
While André’s comedy pushes people to confront issues they might not be comfortable with, getting under people’s skin is not necessarily his intention. Pressed to distill his mission into a single statement, André says, “My comedic goal is to make enough money to start a record label where I can put out the worst music ever. Comedy is just my day job. I’ll sell out at the drop of a hat. I’ll fucking suck Ronald McDonald’s dick in front of a Walmart if it means I can make enough to afford a recording studio. I’m no Fugazi.”
While it’s clear André is not a fan of taking himself—or, more specifically, questions about himself—too seriously, he does display genuine excitement for interacting with his fans. His performance at the 40 Watt is not attached to any sort of tour; according to André, it’s just something he wanted to do. “I just like the idea of doing a one-off show every now and then,” he says. “I’m playing the 40 Watt, right? It’s historic. Legendary club. I’m honored that I get a chance to play there.”
André’s standup has not been as widely distributed or promoted as his television shows, but it is often just as hilarious and disturbing. When asked what he has planned for his Athens show, André says, vaguely, “I’m gonna tell jokes about life. Nihilism. Atheism. Agnosticism.” While we may not know exactly what will happen, knowing André’s pedigree, it’s probably best to expect the unexpected.
André is the host of "The Eric Andre Show" and plays Mike in "Man Seeking Woman." David Perdue opens. See story on p. 12.