TORONTO, ON. Eric André and I are kindred spirits.
I don't know if this is actually the case on any sort of global scale, but on a recent visit to the “Man Seeking Woman” set in Toronto, I overhear a fellow reporter asking Andre about his favorite and least favorite romantic comedies.
I no longer remember what André lists as a favorite, but he doesn't hesitate to list “Love Actually” among the worsts. Darn tooting.
André first popped up on my radar as part of the ensemble of the cancelled-too-soon “Don't Trust The B—- in Apartment 23.” It was only after his extended run on CBS' watched-too-long “2 Broke Girls” that I made the fairly logical connection between actor/comic Eric André and Adult Swim's “The Eric André Show,” which he hosts and created.
The third season of “The Eric André Show” premiered in November, but André now has another sitcom showcase with FXX's “Man Seeking Woman,” in which he plays the uber-bro best pal to Jay Baruchel's Josh.
On the set, we were able to witness some of the interplay between André and Baruchel, who are both comedy writers and are prone to take punchlines rather far afield when given the opportunity for improvisation. Very little of what I heard from their riffing is likely to make it to air even on the lenient FXX and even in the leniently twisted rom-com world of “Man Seeking Woman.”
In my interview with André, we briefly discussed the horrors of “Love Actually,” but also talked about his “Man Seeking Woman” process and the importance of “The Eric André Show” to his career.
HitFix: Let's talk about the hideous lies perpetrated by “Love Actually” on the American people.
Eric André: Sure. I'm glad you brought that up, man. The movie's bulls***. That's not how life works. That's ridiculous. It's not how love works, this isn't how life works. It's disgusting. Movie should be banned.
HitFix: When a girl or a woman says to you, “Let's watch 'Love Actually,'” what's your reaction?
Eric André: It's done. Relationship over.
HitFix: Excellent. So you think of “The Eric André Show” as being sort of your primary job that allows you to do other things sort of around it??
Eric André: Yeah. It's like my home base. It's my baby.
HitFix: Well, what does having that home base allow you to do in terms of the other things that you do with your career?
Eric André: I think it's like a calling card. It's like I can tell people like, “Look if you give me total creative freedom this is what I will do.”
HitFix: And so far has anyone bit on that?
Eric André: They're like, “You can't do that over here.” But at least it shows people my comedic point-of-view I guess.
HitFix: But does it allow you to sort of go, “Okay I can do a smaller supporting part in a show in a project that I believe in,” I don't need to look for a lead role?
Eric André: No, I'm not opposed to a lead role too, I just really like this show and just wanted to be a part of it in any capacity. It wasn't so calculated like, “I can only do supporting…” or “I can be the lead and dah, dah, dah, dah, dah…” It was more just I like it this show. I just want to do it.
HitFix: What does it allow you in terms of timing? Because I was surprised to see that there is a new season coming up and I'm like, “Okay but he's been doing this, this and this, where is the time for all this?”
Eric André: Yeah. The timing is perfect. I just finish editing “Eric André Show” so I had eight weeks in the latter half of the year to do this. It actually worked out perfectly.
HitFix: You have total control on that, how easy or hard is it to flip off all the various switches in your brain other than “actor”?
Eric André: It's easy for this because I like the project and the people I'm collaborating with are easy to communicate with and creatively on the same page. It would be harder if it was like a more kind of conservative show or I didn't have as much freedom as I do on this show. But who am I? I was on unemployment two years ago. I'm not like Vince Vaughn or some A-lister. I can't be picky.
HitFix: But you do still have this thing where if it comes to your mind you get to say it, whereas here…
Eric André: Well here they let us say whatever we want. We can improvise as much as we want.
HitFix: And how does that work? I mean Jay is also a writer, when you guys have scenes together how much…?
Eric André: We're riffing all the time. We'll get like the first couple takes like what on the page and then like after that we'll riff, riff, riff, riff, riff.
HitFix: And what is your chemistry like with him?
Eric André: He's great because he is a writer and he is a comedic mind. He makes it so easy to work off of and we just come up with a bunch of insane stuff. He also doesn't just want to do like the obvious low-hanging dick joke. He always wants the more out-there or cerebral, esoteric dick joke/fart joke/boob joke.
HitFix: OK, so your character here, he's the best friend, but give me more about him. Give me sort of the hook that you found into him.
Eric André: I'm kind of like this chauvinist, womanizing pick-up artist type. You know the book “The Game”? That's kind of like my character's Bible. And I'm trying to get Josh back on the horse, trying to get him laid. And to me getting women is effortless, but to Josh it's very difficult so I kind of counter Josh's ineptitude with women.
HitFix: Have you done the research? Have you read “The Game”?
Eric André: I've listened to it a little bit for research of the role. They had a short-lived pick-up artist series on VH1, I watched a little bit of that. It's hilarious. They wear like Jamiroquai hats and like pinch women when they talk to them. They have all these weird little things. We did a pick-up artist bit, man-on-the-street hidden camera bit for “The Eric André Show” as a joke and the tragedy of it all is that everything they do actually works and I was actually getting women to be like, “You're crazy!” and stopping what they were doing to talk to me. And I was like, “No, this shouldn't work. This is terrible.”
HitFix: So have you added any of it to your repertoire?
Eric André: No. Not really. Maybe I should. Maybe they got it right.
HitFix: What is the most ridiculous thing that you've learned from research into that milieu that does work? What sort of shocked you the most as effective?
Eric André: That's effective? Well, when we did that bit, wearing stupid stuff is totally effective. I had like a pink feather boa on guyliner and like a Jamiroquai hat and my boa was being fondled all the time. They do this weird stuff where they give women little like trinkets, little rings and like candies and stuff like that. It actually works. It was like they treat women like chimpanzees in like a lab or something. But it's terrible. I was like, “God we really are all apes and easily manipulated, men and women.” So is pretty depressing that we're just animals.
HitFix: So now talk to me about sort of the different muscles you've been able to flex on your last two network things on “Don't Trust the B—-” and on “2 Broke Girls,” what have you been sort of been able to work out for you as a performance?
Eric André: Well, it got me more comfortable. I'm like so new to acting. “Don't Trust the B—-” was my first real gig. I was eating beans by candlelight when I found out I booked that thing so it was like my first real gig.
HitFix: Then you were able to get the beans with the pork in them as well?
Eric André: [Laughs.] Then I got the beans with some pork and paid my landlord 12 months of rent. So it just made me more comfortable and “2 Broke Girls” was in front of a live studio audience, so having that pressure is good for you I think.
HitFix: What do you want to learn about your character in this that you haven't learned so far? What do you want to see?
Eric André: I want to see Mike's more sensitive side and get really into him and see the demons, what's in his closet a little bit more.
HitFix: And quickly, I heard you mention to other people that you have a nude scene. How did they break that to you?
Eric André: I didn't know how the nude I was going to be on-set and the producer emailed my manager and was like, “Is he comfortable doing a nude scene?” And I just posted a naked picture of myself on Instagram like that day and I told my manager as a joke, “I'm really not comfortable being naked in front of the crew.” But my penis is always out on “The Eric André Show.” Seth Rogen has seen my penis, Wiz Khalifa, Pauly D, a lot of celebrities have seen my penis.
HitFix: This is just normal people I assume.
Eric André: Well, and my dick wasn't even out. I had like a little like flesh colored coin purse over it so they'll see it one day.
HitFix: Did you volunteered to go further?
Eric André: For the sake of the crew's sanity I kept it in the coin purse, but it was actually gross having this weird executioner mask over my junk. It made it weird and creepier.
“Man Seeking Woman” airs Wednesdays at 10:30 on FXX.