In July, comedian Eric Andre and his camera crew flew to Cleveland to prank the attendees of a pro-Donald Trump rally at the Republican National Convention. One target was right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who was onstage delivering a fiery speech about 9/11 brainwashing by the U.S. government. Andre approached the stage with a microphone attached to a long metal pole, and pushed through a dense crowd of angry ralliers. Jones spotted the wavy-haired comic weaving through the assembly, and screamed, "He's a Democrat!" but invited him onstage, anyway.
"No, I'm a nihilist," Andre corrected, standing next to Jones. He produced a hotel room key from his jacket. "I want you to have sex with my wife," Andre said, before security escorted him offstage.
Speaking by phone during a lunch break in Manhattan's Little Italy neighborhood, Andre sounds giddy as he recalls this prank, a promotional stunt for the fourth season of "The Eric Andre Show," premiering Friday, Aug. 5, on Adult Swim. A video of Andre's prank was uploaded last week to YouTube.
"I almost died there," Andre says, then corrects himself. "Maybe that's too hyperbolic. [Ohio is] an open-carry state, and everyone there had guns and knives on them. Right when we got there, Alex Jones took the stage, and I went, 'Oh, Lord, thank the heavens above.' I knew it would be a high-stakes interview, and he's such a great character to prank."
A "prank" hardly explains Andre's streak of comedic chaos, which can be found on his TV series and in his standup. Andre, who will perform Aug. 3 at Respectable Street in West Palm Beach and Aug. 4 at Gramps bar in Miami, plays the maniacal host of a fake public-access, late-night program on "The Eric Andre Show." During any moment on his show, which he co-hosts with sidekick Hannibal Buress, viewers can bear witness to Andre's bizarre, full-contact anarchy. He will strip down naked and smash into his desk. He will interview celebrities such as Dolph Lundgren, Amy Poehler and Seth Rogen, and inevitably manage to offend all of them. In street-prank sketches, Andre will scare New York pedestrians while wearing a green body suit.
"The show was born out of me temping in New York City and hating all my jobs," recalls Andre, whose idea to host a faux talk show was inspired by HBO's "Da Ali G Show" and the Martin Short-hosted "Primetime Glick." "Remember Tom Green's show? He destroyed his own set one time, and I was like, 'Oh, s---, I should do that on every episode.' "
The Boca Raton native, a graduate of Dreyfoos School of the Arts, says he was eager to leave his "boring" hometown.
"Boca sucks," Andre, 33, says. "The worst part was all the elderly people waiting to die. I love Miami. I love West Palm. But it doesn't mean I'd want to live there. I'll see my family and friends."
It was in New York that he met Buress, whom Andre calls his "antithesis," a low-energy, but equally weird deskmate often shown pecking at his smartphone, apparently oblivious to his sidekick's taste for destruction.
"I think it might be the easiest job ever for him," Andre says. "He just shows up and gets to drift in and out of consciousness and say whatever he wants. I always wanted to do a black comedy show without mentioning race all that often. For us, it's the ultimate odd-couple dynamic."
After three seasons appearing in stunts on the show, which has built a cult following, Andre admits it's getting harder to ambush complete strangers. When Andre applied for press credentials to cover the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, he says his application was "denied." So he improvised, and hired a Hillary Clinton look-alike actress, which he French-kissed outside Philadelphia's Wells Fargo Center.
"The show will die through my dwindling anonymity," Andre says. "Too many people are starting to know me, making it hard to prank them. So I just have to get more outrageous before that happens."
Eric Andre will perform 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 3, at Respectable Street, 518 Clematis St., in West Palm Beach, and 9 and 11 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 4, at Gramps bar, 176 NW 24th St., in Miami. Admission is $20-$25 at Respectable Street, $20-$30 at Gramps. Call 561-832-9999 and 305-699-2669, or go to Gramps.com and Sub-Culture.org/Respectable-Street.
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