TV

Eric Andre On His New Netflix Special, His Love For New Orleans, And Why ‘It’s A Terrifying Time To Be An American’

I’ve spoken with Eric Andre a handful of times and he always brings a unique kind of energy. You hear the thing about actors and comics being bored by the same line of questioning during press tours and it’s the same thing with canned answers. Eric Andre doesn’t give canned answers. You see that in his recent chat with Talib Kweli on People’s Party. When I spoke with him a few years ago, he began by asking me about my knowledge of the artist Salvador Dali’s dick. Another time he deputized himself an Uproxx reporter and vowed to track down disgraced former newsman Charlie Rose for an interview. I’ve mentioned this before. Because I have genuine love for these moments. The plan when talking with Andre is to not have much of a plan and see what happens. I have love for that as well.

Andre’s new Netflix special, Legalize Everything (which you can stream starting June 23), is very on-brand in that it’s surprising, hilarious, timely, and wild. I watched it and it was an island away from the chaos of the world for an hour. It’s nice to have that. A luxury, I know. With this conversation, we didn’t talk much about the inspiration for the comedy at the heart of the special, instead delving into the news of the day with Andre sharing his thoughts on police brutality, media failures, and his fear of staying in the US. This before talking about his Dad Bod, the effects of COVID on his specific brand of comedy, editing the new season of The Eric Andre Show, social media trolls, and why he loves New Orleans (where the special was filmed), and the feeling of an audience being right on top of him. See what happened.

Did you track down Charlie Rose? The last time we spoke for the Pally Late Late Show article, you said you were going to track down Charlie Rose for us.

Andre: I did [say that]! Other issues in the country have arisen since then. [Laughs]

Alright, that’s fair. So, good time to drop a comedy special, huh?

[Laughs] Yeah, perfect time.

Well, what do you want to talk about? You’ve been vocal, saying a lot of good stuff.

Yeah, I’m trying to be. It is pretty bleak. I mean, before it shut down, it was pretty grim. But this is the largest civil rights protest in world history, as far as members across the globe. Australia, New Zealand, Berlin, Paris, London. This is a global protest. So, that’s huge. That is humongous. Now, the politicians are paying attention, and the cops are doing a horrible job! [Laughs]

The one request millennials are making is like, “Hey, let’s end police brutality, excessive force, and hold cops accountable for excessive force and murder.” And the cop’s response is like, “Beat the shit out of people!” Like twee, twerpy millennials… ahhh! Just seeing kids that look like Michael Cera get their faces bashed in by police. It’s like, “Uh, excuse me officer, have you read the newspaper in the last three days? This is exactly what we’re complaining about.” So, the cops are showing their true colors… Not all [of them]. I mean, I won’t speak in broad generalizations. At the other end of the spectrum, there are cops kneeling for justice. And that one sheriff from Flint, Michigan, that was like, “I put my baton and my mask down. I’m here to help you guys. I’m marching with you.” So we get the whole spectrum, but the cops that are bludgeoning unarmed peaceful protestors, I hope that there’s somebody cataloging all of that police brutality footage.

That would be helpful. I know cable news is definitely doing their job by showing mostly burned down Starbucks and cop cars and nothing else. So, that’s super helpful.

Right, I know! Yeah, that’s the other fucking thing. The media is not helping at all. But thank God there’s social media, which I think the younger generation pays attention to more than whatever.

It’s wild. I saw a video on Twitter of a guy… it looked like he was getting beat [by cops] while he was already down on the ground in the middle of an outlet center in Atlantic City. And then the next day I’m watching the local news and all they show are people running with like sneaker boxes [in the same area].

Yeah. That is a problem. So, I don’t know, but we’ll see. It’s a terrifying time to be an American. I’m talking to an immigration lawyer about like, “Hey, can I work in Paris? Can I work in London? Hey, what’s that like? Can I get the fuck out of here at least until election day, if not four years after Election Day?” Because it’s just dangerous. Those countries have their own awful racism and classism. And England is falling into the ocean as well, but the cops don’t have guns. Not everybody has guns, so I’m not worried if I get pulled over by a cop in England or France that I’m going to lose my life, you know? There are helicopters circling my neighborhood. Cop helicopters have been circling the neighborhood for like a week straight. So it’s out of control. But I think defunding the police is the best battle cry. I think if you hit them in their wallets, you’ll actually hit them harder than anywhere else. Right now, they’re like a mob. It’s like racketeering. The police unions are so strong. They just bulldoze any mayor into doing their bidding. And why do they need military-grade… Like, why do they need tanks to attack Americans? You’re going to go to war with Americans? Yeah, It’s weird. It’s insane. So, it’s a fucking mess. We’re in a police state right now. It’s fucking disgusting. But, that’s the country. What can I say?

Are you reading the comments on your social posts?

Never.

You can’t.

Never.

You can’t in this situation, especially.

Never, ever. Never, ever. I’ll pay attention if somebody verbally comments to my face in public, but not on the internet. It’s not an active representation of feedback. It’s like 10-year-olds trolling for attention. You know what I mean? So a lot of that trolling is completely apolitical, ironically. It’s not a real barometer.

I saw Seth Rogan’s response to some of it, and it was basically like, “Fuck you. Don’t watch my movies. You don’t deserve my movies.” Which I thought was just fantastic.

Yeah. Kurt Cobain has that quote [paraphrased from the liner notes of In Utero]: “If you’re homophobic, or racist, or sexist do not come to our shows, and do not buy our albums.” And that’s how I feel. I’m like, “If you’re bigoted and you want martial law and a police state, don’t watch my stuff. Don’t come to my shows. I do not need your patronage. I am not making my art for you. I’m not making my art for white supremacists and bigots.” Anyway, I don’t know. I could go on. [Adopts an announcer’s voice] Watch my comedy special, June 23rd, only on Netflix! [Laughs]

The special is great by the way. I want to ask, and this kind of still ties back to the grim shit, but with everything going on with COVID… Your style is very much in the streets and in people’s faces to an extent, how the hell do you do that pre-vaccine?

I don’t. [Laughs] I don’t. I’m fucked. I’m on vacation until the vaccine, basically. I can do animation. I can do a podcast, but I can’t possibly go on the street.

So this is it for you? This and Bad Trip are it for you until 2021?

That’s it. I’m retired baby. Retired by COVID. I’m out. Mic drop.

What are you doing with your time? Just watching Netflix, playing games?

I’ve been drinking a lot. I’ve been teaching myself how to make cocktails.

Nice.

So that’s been good. I’ve got my Dad Bod going. No, I’ve been writing, doing research, doing press for this. I’m finishing editing The Eric Andre Show. We’ve got a few weeks left of editing. Everything is in the can. I just have to put the finishing touches on the last couple of episodes and deliver them to the network.

So with the special, why was New Orleans the choice?

I think it checks a lot of boxes. It’s like everybody is drunk and fun, and having a good time. Very diverse. The millennials there, they love… it’s kind of like a blue city in a red state. So it’s like, I like purple audiences the best. Because the far right, I’m going to turn off obviously because they’re Nazis. [Laughs] And the far left is very PC Police. They’re offended by every joke. So when you have like a swing state or a swing city kind of vibe, nobody is offended by everything. You could say whatever the fuck you want. And that’s why my favorite shows are not only in New Orleans, but Rust Belt states. I love playing cities in Ohio, and Wisconsin, Michigan. Those are the best audiences.

New Orleans was one of the only cities I didn’t put on my tour, so I didn’t blow my set there yet. So I did it at the end of my American tour. It had great crowds, diverse crowds. And we were like, “Should we go to the big theater?” And I was like, “No, I don’t like big theater shows. I like small, intimate audiences where I can be literally on top of the audience members.” And I even climb on top of one audience member during the special. So it just checked a lot of boxes.

It works so well. I mean, honestly because the theater (Republic NOLA)… I don’t like comedy specials that are filmed in massive arenas or any kind of big theater where you can’t feel the effect of the audience’s energy.

Yeah, you’re too disconnected from the audience. That’s me personally. I think there’s, I don’t know, there’s an intimacy to comedy, because you’re becoming buddies with the audience, and the audience needs to create a hive mind. It’s like a proxy for like joking around with your friends in your living room, drunk, and stoned. So I think a more intimate venue captures that stuff. I just feel more comfortable. I don’t like a big spotlight. Anything over 3,000 seats, you have a big spotlight, and the majority of the audience is in the darkness. You can’t see them, and I feel disconnected.

The way that everyone is just stacked there, it just gives you the feeling that everyone is going to jump on you. You’re going to jump on them. And it really fits the energy of the special really well.

Thanks, yeah. I was proud of the choice.

Before I go, I want to thank you, also for something you mentioned during the special. I’m also half Catholic and half Jewish. I’ve searched my whole life for the term cashew. I had no idea it existed.

Oh, no way! It’s old school. That’s public domain. That’s free to use.

Eric Andre’s ‘Legalize Everything’ is available to stream on Netflix June 23.

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