“FEARLESS” HAS BECOME one of the most useless adjectives around when it comes to talking about a comedian. Yet there’s no better word to describe what Eric Andre does. The 33-year-old seems to thrive on putting his head in the lion’s mouth.
The most recent example is a series of videos he shot at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland. When Andre wasn’t dancing in a star-spangled dress inside the Quicken Loans Arena (and quickly getting thrown out), he dared to interrupt an event held outside the arena by Infowars bloviator Alex Jones.
In the now-viral clip that came out of it, Andre made his way onstage to tell Jones, “I need you to sleep with my wife.” Once he was removed from the dais, the crowd took disturbing delight in shoving the comedian, yelling “You’re not MLK!” right in his face.
“It was scary to be there to begin with, but it was like poking a hornets’ nest,” remembers Andre, recounting what happened from his home in LA weeks later. “It’s an open-carry state and a lot of the people I was provoking had guns on them.”
The usual outlet for his antics is The Eric Andre Show, his surrealist talk show which just kicked off its fourth season on Adult Swim; the live version comes to the Wonder Ballroom on Thursday. The framework of the series is a familiar one, complete with an opening monologue and interviews with celebrity guests. But everything Andre and his writers hang on that skeleton is unnerving, often nauseating, and undeniably hilarious.
The Hills star Lauren Conrad, for example, ran from the set after Andre spewed fake vomit on his desk and then slurped it up again. He also subjected Fox News contributor Stacey Dash to a Photoshopped nude photo of Barack Obama before setting some rats loose at her feet. Between segments like that, Andre shares hidden camera stunts he pulls in public that often put him directly in harm’s way—like his attempt to messily offer up bites of Chinese food to folks on the subway or trying to hand out KKK hoods and Confederate flags to folks at a Tea Party meetup.
“It’s not just about what’s gonna get my ass kicked,” Andre says. “There’s kids online who will do stuff like, ‘I’m gonna go to the hood and steal someone’s cell phone and get punched in the face.’ And that’s not funny. You want high stakes, but it has to be funny.”