Eric Andre is exactly what 2020 needs

Monday, November 2, 2020 - 12:45pm

NOSELL

Adult Swim

In the very first scene of the Season 5 premiere of “The Eric Andre Show,” a quaint talk show stage is revealed while a band plays charming music in the background. Suddenly, a bald, sweaty man in a bright tan suit runs headlong into the curtains, eviscerating every set piece in a symphony of destructive chaos while the band plays nonchalantly in the background. 

Perhaps there is no better visual metaphor for the gloriously absurd “Eric Andre Show,” the cult classic talk show that premiered in 2012. It takes the iconic talk show formula and utterly destroys it with absurd lines of questioning and hilarious yet morally dubious pranks. Fans of the show spent nearly four years waiting for the fifth season, and it did not disappoint. 

The show continues most of the running gags of previous seasons, and updates some of the best material for 2020. Eric continues to terrify the people of New York with his iconic brand of irreverent comedy. Some of his new antics include faking a hilariously over-the-top bicycle injury (while trying to get sponsored by Sprite), dressing up in a bikini and harassing a hapless stockbroker on Wall Street. He also continues to terrify his bewildered guests with his bizarre interview questions and erratic behavior. 

With the premiere of Season 5 being well-received by critics and fans alike, it seems like absurdist comedies are resonating with audiences in 2020. In this day and age, when the news continues to get worse, and the U.S election is swiftly approaching, it’s clear that audiences want a show that seems like a fitting response to everything that’s been happening. Like Eric in the first scene of Season 5, Americans want to destroy the set. It’s also no surprise that Sacha Baron Cohen returned to the spotlight with his iconic and equally absurd “Borat” last week. Thanks to the particularly absurd times we’re living in, the show’s appeal only increased with the new season.

It’s difficult to explain the concept behind “The Eric Andre Show” to the uninitiated. When it first premiered in 2012, the show was a bizarre footnote on late night television. Its disturbing antics sometimes awarded it scathing criticism from religious leaders and concerned parents. Yet through the years, it has remained true to its original formula and even excelled in its own niche of late night television. Despite taking quite a long hiatus since 2016, the show still retained some dedicated fans that waited patiently for the next installment. And 2020 was the perfect year. This absolute dumpster fire of a year now has a glimmer of hope, and it’s a bald, sweaty man in a bright tan suit.

Daily Arts Writer Joshua Thomas can be reached at realjt@umich.edu.

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