Before he became a comedian and the pseudo-host of his own pseudo-talk show, "The Eric Show" on Adult Swim, Eric Andre studied upright bass at Boston’s renowned Berklee College of Music. His chief musical influence was Charles Mingus, who spent the forties and fifties fighting band mates, breaking instruments, and generally trolling club owners. Andre’s no longer a musician, but he’s still following his hero’s deranged lead. Just look at the bewildered expressions on the faces of the celebrities that wander onto his set – they’re absolutely terrified. They should be.
“In high school I saw this episode of The Tom Green Show where in the middle of an interview he just starts breaking his set,” Andre says, “I was like, ‘He should do that all of the time.’”
On The Eric Andre Show, breaking stuff is pretty much the point. On the best shows, the stuff getting broken is people. While Green sought to make people laugh, cringe, and maybe dry heave every once in a while Andre – with a little help from co-host Hannibal Buress – pretends to scalp himself or tries to rob a diner while disguised as a French cat burglar or devours his own vomit. It’s hard to watch and impossible to look away.
With Season 3 of The Eric Andre Show upon us, Maxim talked to Andre about brushes with the law, the delicate art of making celebrities uncomfortable, and his public relationship with his own body.
Your guests usually look uncomfortable. What are you guys doing to them that the audience can’t see?
We have this Chinese water torture thing going on, where we’ll have water drip right on the guest’s head from the top of the ceiling. We’ll also stuff a heat duct with old clams and put it under the seat so it reeks like a landfill. It gets really smelly and hot, like Guantanamo Bay. We did that to Krysten Ritter, pumping hot clam air all up into the back of her chair. She was so pissed. And we also have this realistic looking penis dildo. My writing partner, Dan Curry, will stand by the camera during the interview and pretend to jerk off while not breaking eye contact with the guest [laughs]. One time Dan had the dildo hanging out of his pants and our other producer, Josh, walked up and started sucking it. Then, Josh pulled out a dildo from his pants and Dan started sucking it. It was great. We wanted to have a transgender couple fuck off-screen during an interview, but our lawyer was like, 'I don’t think we’re allowed to have actual penetration happening.'
It’s hard to tell who’s playing along. Who were some of your guests who just didn’t get it?
Lauren Conrad was really upset and mad at me, and she kind of walked off set during the interview. After, I gave her a bottle of wine and was like, 'Oh, you know I’m just fucking around. It’s all love.' And then she just stormed out. Her publicist was so fucking pissed, screaming at us, 'You’ll never work in this town again! I’m going to ban you guys, blah, blah, blah!' [Laughs.] Who else? Lou Ferrigno almost walked off, and, again, he was mad at me. I think Ryan Kwanten from True Blood was freaked out. He kind of looked shell-shocked afterwards.
Does it ever get tense between you and the guests after the show?
The best was Ryan Kwanten. He was like, 'I’ve never done anything like that.' And I just kind of laughed. Then we were going to interview this other guy from True Blood a few days later, and my talent booker came to us and was like, 'Yeah, he cancelled because Ryan Kwaten told him about your interview.'
Have there been any guests who you thought weren’t going to play along but turned out to be cool with it?
Yeah. Mel B was awesome. I was going nuts and saying all of this inappropriate shit and she was like, 'Loved it!' Like, 'Fucking insane, mate!'
What is the scariest thing you’ve experienced doing this show so far?
Jail is up there for sure. I almost got my jaw broken on the subway a couple of times this year. But I was covered in milk and it was really hot and I just reeked so nobody wanted to touch me. And then I did this bit where I put peanut butter all over my crotch and got spread-eagle with my legs up on stirrups in the this dog park in New York. I was really afraid I was going to get canned, but this park ranger came up and just kicked us out. I also did this bit where I was dragging this bloody body bag all through Chinatown and was yelling, 'Finders keepers!' And blood was pouring all over the place. We see these two ambulances and a fire truck fly by, and a cop car pulls up out of nowhere and the cop is like, 'What the fuck are you guys doing?! I’ve dispatched ambulances, fire trucks, blah blah blah blah!' [Laughs.]
Do the cops ever recognize you?
Yeah, I had three undercover cops pop up on me during this bit where I was dressed up like a cop drinking a 40oz and throwing up all over the street. They whipped out their badges and were like, 'What the fuck do you think you’re doing?' Then one of them recognized me from Two Broke Girls and he was like, “Oh, man, you’re a comedian! Dude, you don’t want to be doing this shit here.” We were in this kind of tough part of Harlem. He was like, 'They’re going to do the hot mail express on you.' Were like, huh? 'They’re going to fry up cans of tuna fish and throw it out of the seventh story of a building and hit you in the head with it.' I was like, 'Oh, ok, well, let’s just go ahead and move on to the next bit.'
Obviously, you don’t have a problem being naked in public…
They blur out your junk on TV. Are you full-blown naked or are you wearing like a little flesh-colored thong?
I’m full-blown naked in the studio all of the time. I’ve shown a lot of celebrities my dick this year. Pauly D has seen my dick. Seth Rogen has seen my dick.
Last question: Do you have any grand projects you’d like to see through before you die?
Yeah, I want to start a record label and put out the worst, most unlistenable music ever. And I wouldn’t mind buying a waterpark. That’s about it.
Photos by Photo: TBS