Eric Andre is one of the best talk show hosts in the world, and I’ll tell you why: he isn’t one.
He’s not what would be described as a late night host – he’s not doing straight monologues, he’s not being the straight man, he’s not playing games, he’s not sitting with multiple people. He plays a late night host in a much different way – the absurdist way that should have been around since Letterman, that Comedy Bang Bang attempted but didn’t go far enough with. By not being a late night host, he’s the best on television.
I would like to credit Hannibal Buress with being the best sidekick as well, because without Buress, Andre wouldn’t have the straight man to bounce off of, to make himself appear even more oddball, even more over the top. Buress is playing the perfect straight man for Andre’s brand of humor – the one who appears sane yet goes with everything Andre throws out there randomly. “Oh there’s snakes on the desk? That’s fine.” That type of attitude is what the show needs out of more than just Andre and Buress delivers.
Andre’s interviews aren’t as much interviews as torture sessions for his guests. Every prank he’s pulled, every weird question only serves to endear the guest to the audience, because the guest appears as the human being, the unscripted person forced into these bizarre situations without foresight, without forewarning, trapped in this hot studio with this lunatic and their only hope is Hannibal, who’s on Andre’s side.
The uncomfortability isn’t the cringe genre that went over the hill when Michael Scott left The Office, it’s a whole ‘nother brand, a fever dream, a nightmare, and yet one that Andre and Buress manage to turn into perhaps the funniest show on television, a niche humor, but if you’re in that niche, the most excellent, the A+.
The show capitalizes on all that makes Adult Swim great, it has no filter, it is allowed to do what it wants, and everything about it works. It’s no wonder that Andre can still pull a Chris Rock out of nowhere, among other smaller names, when his show continues to work and to pave the way for other shows like it to someday make television – like the Gorberger show. The thing is, Andre treats his biggest names with respect – he’s not throwing rats at Chris Rock’s feet, he’s having him guest star on perhaps the best episode, “Bird Up”, allowing him to dress up in the green suit with Andre.
And every running gag of Andre’s works as well. You want more of Bird Up, more of his insane antics terrorizing the subway and local storefronts, more of that one dude with the ranch dressing, but the Show funnels it, allows only enough madness to escape per episode to keep fans hungry, keep them wanting more.
What’s more, Andre’s persona isn’t just on this show, unlike so many others before him – Stephen Colbert’s a liberal with a brain, Jon Stewart wanted to move past television, and David Letterman isn’t a huge fan of people. He’s made his personality into his persona and his persona into his personality, and wherever he goes he wreaks havoc, including podcasts, interviews, and TV appearances.
I love Eric Andre and his show because of what he means – he’s a different perspective in late night television, and not just because he’s not a white man. I would say that he should replace someone on a network, but the freedom that Adult Swim grants him isn’t there other places, and it’s what Andre strives on.