Eric Andre Will Go to Any Length for the Bit

Comedy Features Eric Andre
Eric Andre Will Go to Any Length for the Bit

The Eric Andre Show has upped the ante in recent years when it comes to the surreal series’ pranks. While usually billed as a send-up of late night talk shows, its on-the-street antics are almost as notorious as Eric Andre’s harassment of celebrity guests. The pranks in the sixth season, which just premiered on Adult Swim on June 4, prompted a record number of 911 calls. One of the most impressive—and frightening—stunts in these new episodes is “Goober Driver,” in which Andre poses as an incompetent hillbilly rideshare driver whose vehicle spins seemingly more and more out of control.

“It’s pretty dangerous,” Andre tells me over Zoom. “We have this crazy trick car where there’s a driver actually on the hood of my car, and he’s operating it. But we covered him up with a blue Home Depot tarp so that people wouldn’t see him. So he’s covered, and then when they get in the car, he would remove part of the tarp so he could see, and I had no control of the wheel. He had full control of the wheel so that I could hop in the back if I wanted to, I could do whatever I want. It’s a really cool contraption.”

When it comes to pranks on the show, Andre says that he and his fellow writers tend to “shoot for the stars in the beginning and then reality sets in and you’ve got to figure out what to rewrite to make it affordable and producible.” Often, animals are cut out (too expensive), and in Season 6 some sequels to previous bits (“I am the Octopus” and “The Pageant”) were axed to favor new material. 

The pranks that do make it on the show, though, are wonders to behold. Whether Andre is posing as a realtor’s nightmare or the world’s worst EMT, he fully commits. He always has the script, crafted with his writing partner Dan Curry, at the ready, but ultimately anything can happen in an on-the-street stunt.

“Once the prank starts going, you kind of have to let go and let God as they say, and I have what I’ve rehearsed in my back pocket, but you gotta be able to pivot,” Andre explains. “It’s a good acting exercise, doing pranks. All actors should prank people.”

The real wild card here is the mark that they choose—often someone who’s been hired on a site like Craigslist, with the show’s casting director posing as an HR person. The standout in Season 6 is the woman in Episode 10, who’s working a front desk while Andre’s hapless air conditioning repairman wreaks more and more havoc.

“She was gonna throw a chair at me. She was gonna stab me with a pen… I think she was going through a lot,” Andre says with a laugh. Part of that is because Andre would exit through one door, and his double, Carlos, would improbably enter through another—over and over again until “her mind unraveled.”

Besides threats of violence, Episode 10 also stands out because it’s the season’s “Cold Episode”—a “mind-numbingly dumb” idea the writers came up with.

“Kitao [Sakurai], when we had the writers room, he’s like, ‘Should we do another specialty episode or a holiday episode?’ And no one could come up with any ideas. So he’s like, ‘Let’s do a cold episode where everything’s cold.’ And we just thought it was truly the stupidest idea for an episode,” Andre recalls.

They manage to shoehorn in the concept in the strangest ways, like by introducing the new co-host the Fridge Keeper (a puppet protruding from a freezer) or Andre just saying offhandedly to one mark, “Did you think this episode was going to be so cold?”

Another feature of Season 6 is Andre’s abs—as we chat over Zoom, he apologizes for being in his gym clothes before doing mock strongman poses. Andre has never shied away from being nude on the series, but he feels like “this season’s a bon voyage party to my abs. It took so much work to get them to resurface that I was like, ‘I can’t live like this.’”

The extreme and frankly unhealthy lengths actors go to in order to sport washboard abs are well-documented, and as someone used to pushing himself to the limit for a bit, Andre dove deep into researching how it worked. 

“They’re called, like shirtless days or something. The actor, Adam Driver or whoever, will work with the AD and be like, ‘What are the days that I’m shooting shirtless?’ And they’ll prep all the way up to those days. They’ll take salt pills and eat only little bits of ice for hydration. It’s crazy,” Andre explains. “I was really doing deep research and asking a lot of actors, but like, that’s for a specific day, for a specific shoot, for a specific shot. That’s not human. So I was looking into that and I was like, ‘Oh, I can’t eat salt pills every day.’ My trainer was like, ‘You’ll go to the hospital, you cannot do that.’ I’m constantly naked on my show. And they were like, ‘You gotta pick which days you’re gonna do the salting, the great salting.’ So I never got that deep into it. There’s certain pills that you can take that make your veins pop, that make your veins bulge. It’s really bizarre.”

And his body modification adventures for Season 6 didn’t end there. Andre also decided to try a treatment for under his eyes to change his look even further.

“I did this bizarre treatment to the bags under my eyes. I got these carbon dioxide injections, where they would take a tank and they would pump my eyes… I have videos,” Andre tells me excitedly while I grimace. “They injected my eyes with carbon dioxide and carbon dioxide rushes to the bags, and then oxygen rushes in and I did the procedure like 10 to 15 times because I wanted to look like a Snapchat filter for the show.”

If you don’t believe him, the videos are on his Instagram and are not for the faint of heart (me). 

Considering just how far he’ll go to for a joke, Andre out-weirds most guests on his show, with very few exceptions. When I ask what guests have surprised him, initially he says, “None of them surprise me. I surprise them.”

But after I press him, Andre adds, “I mean, Chet Hanks was surprising. He had some surprises in store. Flavor Flav. I’d say the hardest to prank in the history of the show were Flavor Flav and Dennis Rodman because they’re so much crazier than me. They’re like my character on the show 24/7. So as crazy as I was, they were just like, ‘Hey, another normal guy.’”

Whether he’s injecting his body with gases or channeling his inner Rodman, Andre makes it clear: he’ll do just about anything for the bit.

Season 6 of The Eric Andre Show airs Sundays at midnight on Adult Swim.

Clare Martin is a cemetery enthusiast and Paste’s assistant comedy editor. Go harass her on Twitter @theclaremartin.

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