Eric Andre put it best last night when he described his comedy as, “a mix between Gallagher and GG Allin.”
The antics performed by the comedian on his Adult Swim television series The Eric Andre Show recall game-changing predecessors The Tom Green Show and Jackass with celebrity interviews and hidden camera pranks. When Andre interviews guests, he's like Jimmy Fallon on Desoxyn and bath salts. When he brings a camera crew and production assistants to Manhattan, he puts himself at risk of getting jumped and arrested (he’s stated in previous interviews that he was arrested twice while conducting such performances).
Andre has given out Seth Rogen’s personal cellphone number while interviewing him. When Jimmy Kimmel agreed to appear on the show, an assistant got under his chair and used a feather to tickle Kimmel's taint. For one of his public pranks, Andre strolled through New York City, suitcase in hand, carrying a female contortionist, and people sincerely believed she was being kidnapped.
It was rather perplexing, given his history, when Andre took on a more civilized demeanor at his Majestic Theatre show Thursday night as part of his Legalize Everything Tour. As comparably tame as he may have been, his signature brand of surrealism was not lost on anyone, especially toward the end.
Andre took the stage around 9:15 p.m., clad in a cowboy hat and boots, slim cut jeans and a 2 Live Crew T-shirt.
“Your culture has become my costume, what’s up?!” he shouted to rapturous applause.
He started out with a more traditional stand-up comedy format — sans antics — and made jokes on dark topics such as Louis C.K., Jeffrey Epstein and incels, among other uncomfortably taboo subjects. Andre devoted a great chunk of the set to talking about drugs, from getting a crystal meth prescription from a doctor who sounds like Foghorn Leghorn, to his personal account of missing the Tupac hologram at Coachella 2012 because he was at the toilet high on molly.
These jokes alone were enough to carry the show, but the improvisational moments were far stronger highlights, and many of these off-the-cuff moments involved audience participation. Andre asked for a show of hands seeking any audience members who had ever walked in on their parents having sex. As roughly 40% of the crowd raised their hand, two attendees were given microphones and a soapbox to unpack their trauma in front of God and everyone. One audience member said he found nude pictures of his elderly mother when using her computer. The other said he walked in on his mother using a vibrating massager to, uh, “master her domain,” as that episode of Seinfeld so ... gently ... put it.
The peak of audience participation took place toward the end of Andre’s set. He asked people to take the stage and to give him their phones so he could text their mothers using only the predictive text feature.
“If you press those words like, 'fucking willy nilly', it creates like, a crazy, run-on mad lib sentence that makes no sense,” Andre explained. “If you text that to your mom, it drives her fucking nuts!”
Andre texted one man's mother (saved in his phone as “Elisa”) the following messages:
“Please don’t let me go.”
“Video chat is coming from a super nice dude.”
“Pretty please, please, don’t let me go.”
“Hey, I’m just wondering if you’re coming.”
“Do you want to?”
“The parking lot is so nice and the food was very good and the sushi was great.”
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Elisa made it clear she was in on the joke in replying, “You’re at the show tonight, I bought the tickets. I’m guessing you’re being put up to this?” An endearing Facetime session between Andre and Elisa followed.
As Andre came out for an encore, he showed the audience the trailer and a preview of his upcoming movie Bad Trip, then brought the show’s surrealism to its zenith by having two audience members chug bottles of Hidden Valley ranch dressing (referencing the recurring “Ranch it Up” series on The Eric Andre Show). Andre gave the winner, a lanky redhead, a free T-shirt and asked him to sit on a chair facing the crowd. Andre then gave him the microphone and said, “Here. Freestyle.” Lanky redhead's freestyle rap was rudimentary, but to his relief, people couldn’t tell because Andre took off his own clothes and gave him a hug.
The bit was so raunchy and revolting that you couldn’t help but feel a modicum of guilt as you left the theater and saw tuxedo-clad Majestic employees looking their classiest and telling guests to have a good night. Andre may have seemed collected and docile during the first half of his set, but that started to unravel as the scripted moments were tossed aside.
In other words, it was an Eric Andre live performance.