Eric Andre on Moving to Canada, the Mysterious Photocopier and Selling Out His First Tour The Exclaim! Questionnaire
Published Jan 05, 2021Eric Andre was once unsure if The Eric Andre Show would continue past a fifth season, but as he wrapped edits on his latest batch of episodes, he thought to himself, "Why would I want to close the door permanently on something where I have total creative freedom, and is so fun to make?"
The near four-year break between seasons four and five of The Eric Andre Show, which recently wrapped on Adult Swim, saw the comedian take time away from hosting his surreal talk show spoof to complete feature film Bad Trip, standup special Legalize Everything, an album as Blarf and more. Though his profile has continued to grow, stars continue to line up for the twisted, at times torturous, chance to be Andre's special guest.
"We purposely try to get guests who have no idea what the show is, who have no idea who I am, what my name is, what Adult Swim is," Andre told Exclaim! in an interview about his latest season. "But it doesn't really matter once I'm setting off explosives, electrocuting you, or dropping cockroaches and vermin from the sky. You're gonna have a reaction whether you know me or not, know what I mean?"
Whether terrorizing subjects in-studio or pranking the public on the street, Andre assures his provocations are never malicious. "I'm never trying to be mean, or trying to punch down," he says. "I only want to be absurd and surreal, and I'm just trying to distort people's reality in order to blow their mind."
What are your current fixations?
I taught myself how to make cocktails in quarantine, which is a dangerous thing to get good at. I feel like Truman Capote: at my house, all pent-up, just drinking exotic gin drinks all the time. I just saw the new Borat, which was super funny. Been watching Curb Your Enthusiasm. I'm reading this book, Open Veins of Latin America, about the past 500 years of Central and South America — it's a bummer.
Why do you live where you do?
I ain't out here [in Los Angeles] for the desert landscapes! It's the centre of television and film. All the resources are here.
What has been your most memorable or inspirational concert, either as an attendee or performer, and why?
One of the best concerts I ever saw live was the Beastie Boys at Madison Square Garden in 2004, right when I moved to New York City and I graduated college. That was incredible.
I think the first Eric Andre Show live tour was magical because it was the first time I had fans. I was going into that tour thinking, "All right, it's okay if nobody comes to the first few shows. This is your first tour." But the tour sold out, and there were lines around the block, and I was like, "Oh my god, I might have a career." I wasn't playing arenas — I'm not Kevin Hart. I was playing small, DIY venues. It was such a cool feeling to finally be understood.
What advice should you have taken, but did not?
I'm very hard on myself, and people say, "Don't be so hard on yourself, be kind to yourself," you know. It kind of sounds like white noise after a while, people deliver all these maxims — "Happiness comes from within." You hear all that shit growing up and go, "Yeah, yeah, sure, sure." But the older you get, the more you realize that is the truth, and those proverbs are around for a reason. I wish that I were more kind to myself in my twenties.
What do you think of when you think of Canada?
I love Canada. I love Canadians. I have had an overwhelmingly positive experience for all my times in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver; I've been in the countryside. I have very fond memories of all the times I've filmed and toured in Canada, and I always have my eye on the North whenever I think about the current political climate in my country. I always fantasize about escaping to Canada.
Where's home base should you ever make that decision?
It's a toss-up between Toronto and Montreal… Vancouver's pretty nice…or Winnipeg! Final answer.
What's the meanest thing anyone has ever said about your art?
Gosh, there's so many. I mean, it gets real dark and racist quick if you want to go down that path. Like, full hate speech, death threats, vile… ah, I don't know. It depends on how dark you want to make this conversation.
What was the first album you ever bought with your own money?
It was a "Weird Al" Yankovic compilation called The Food Album, which only featured his hit songs about food.
What was the best song off of that one for you?
Probably "My Bologna," which is a parody of "My Sharona" about baloney.
What was your most memorable day job?
This was my early days in New York City. I had a job where I was a paralegal for this company…they were like a LexisNexis. It's like a database of court cases, and lawyers can pay for access so they can reference those old cases as precedent when they're in court. So all I had to do was go to the nearest New York Supreme Court, and make copies all day.
There was this older guy there that was kind of strange and eccentric, and he would give us petty cash to make copies of these old court cases. He was like, "Hey, if you give me the money, I'll just make the copies for you. I have access to a free copy machine; you don't have to put your money in there anymore. I'll just make 'em for you for even cheaper, and then I'll keep the money and you can just give your paperwork back to your boss every day."
So I didn't even have to check into the office. I would go with a stack of papers to this rogue guy, hand him a stack of cash, he would make the copies and I would go back home, sleep in and work on comedy. He'd do all my work for me, and at the end of the day, I'd show up at the office with this stack of copies. My coworker I would bring them to my boss and he'd be like, "Man, you guys are more productive than anybody else we have at the company, just cranking 'em out." Everyone was happy — there was no loser in the game, no victim. It was this perfectly life-hacked system we had worked out where I ended up being more productive than people standing in front of the copy machine all day, and I could go home and work on what I really loved. It didn't last forever, it was too good to be true, but it was perfect for when I was a young, starving, 22-year old comedian.
What is the greatest song of all-time?
There's this Miles Davis song called "Little Church," which I believe is written by Hermeto Pascoal. And I think it might be the most beautiful song ever recorded.