There’s nothing that puts a strain on those early friendships in Fresher’s like The Eric Andre Show. Let me paint you a picture; your group of misfit quasi-buddies has decided to stay in for the evening, to relax with some casual drinks, maybe a pizza or popcorn. Everyone is comfy, relaxed and settling into the university lifestyle – grateful for some true downtime outside of Jesters or those pesky introductory lectures. This doesn’t last long. Some poor schmuck directs the question ‘What are we watching, then? at you of all people – and with that, their fate is sealed. They don’t know what’s coming. You connect the laptop, beam directly into Adult Swim and press play on 30 minutes that simulate the television Beezlebub himself might play in the deepest depths of hell. Your friends are no longer your friends, everyone is horrified, and your university life is ruined. But don’t worry – Eric is here to comfort you.
The Eric Andre Show is an Adult Swim talk show that has been hailed as the pinnacle of nihilistic, postmodern humour, an odyssey into the brain of its irreparably damaged creator that is uncompromising in its vision – to create the oddest talk show of all time. The bulk of the show is comprised of segments in which Eric talks to his guests (who appear more as hostages), followed by segments in which Eric is let loose onto an unsuspecting public in ‘pranks’ that parody shows like Jackass or Trigger-Happy TV. The former, ‘interview’ sections are some of the most surreal pieces of television one can find, featuring such scenes as Eric sawing his desk in half in front of Lauren Conrad, bullying Seth Rogen into a segment called ‘Velcro Time’ or mercilessly beating the aptly named ‘naked intern’ in front of Wiz Khalifa. Eric delights in making his guests uncomfortable – admitting that he goes as far as to heat the room to an unbearably high temperature, or strategically place rotting clams under the chair that guests are expected to sit in. He doesn’t save himself for discomfort either, inviting a real life actual grizzly bear into the studio as a guest or destroying the entire set time and time again, only to have it magically reform around him in each episode’s introduction. The ‘street skits’ sections of the show are surreal in a totally different way, with Eric pounding the pavements in various guises to terrify and weird-out the general population. A quick glance at the Wikipedia episode list gives such skit titles as ‘Time for some Ranch!’, ‘Safety Stegosaurus’ or ‘The Spideric Andre Show’. One gets an idea of what these curiously-named interludes might be – and the curiosity pushes us onward into ever stranger territory. The ‘musical guest’ section, for me, is a personal favourite, with guests such as the brilliantly juxtaposed Exhumed and the Supremes, or paradoxical Jonwayne (unplugged) providing a perfectly odd ending to each episode. There are a fair few recognisable faces, too, such as Mac Demarco, Ariel Pink and Killer Mike. Why on earth they would agree to be on the show is beyond me.
I firmly believe, however, that The Eric Andre Show is an excellent choice for Freshers-Week binging. Once the initial weirdness barrier has been crossed by the viewer, the show is a joyfully strange romp of surreal vignettes and warped humour. Each episode clocks in at under 30 minutes, with enough variety across seasons (such as the wonderful ‘Hannibal Buress Show’ or ‘Bird Up!’ specials) keeping you trudging on through this TV apocalypse. Whoever you choose to watch The Eric Andre Show with will also be bound to you for good –irreparably damaged by the severity of the experience you have had to endure, but simultaneously delighting in the frankly staggering reference pool that Eric provides. It’s not for everyone – but if it’s for you, it’s unmissable. So take your ranch, bird up and snail down for The Worst Show on TV™.
Seasons 1-4 of The Eric Andre Show are available to stream on Amazon Prime now.