"Police brutality is nothing new. Racism is nothing new. Our dysfunctional, puritanical morals are nothing new," Eric Andre tells EW ahead of his special Legalize Everything. "It's just stuff I'm compelled to talk about."
Eric Andre didn't predict we'd be talking about police brutality right now. He also didn't predict the show COPS would get canceled after 31 years. He just happened to talk about it all for his first special ever, one of the most timely comedy events in recent memory (next to Dave Chapelle's 8:46). Eric Andre: Legalize Everything drops Tuesday, and EW has an exclusive clip above to get you ready.
The clip finds Andre in the midst of a fit. He wants to run for president. He wants to abolish the American government. "Condone slavery and prisons? Are you f—ing kidding me?" Andre says in the clip.
This is all in Andre's absurdist character we've grown to love with Adult Swim's The Eric Andre Show, but somehow the comedian is able to Trojan Horse little truths in his manic characters that point to how ingrained racism is in our society. "We live an inverted totalitarian state," Andre tells EW on a call, flexing his high-brow meets low-brow humor. "Anyway, get ready for dick jokes on Netflix!"
Andre has struck a chord with the current "Abolish police" movement after a clip of him skewering COPS went viral earlier this month. But, as Andre points out, it's timeliness is also a tragic coincidence, since it's something that's been on his mind since he started touring for this special last year, and beyond.
"Police brutality is nothing new. Racism is nothing new. Our dysfunctional, puritanical morals are nothing new," Andre says. "It's just stuff I'm compelled to talk about."
Andre spoke with EW at length about how comedy fits in the picture of today's highly politicized world. Andre also gives us an update on the status of his Quibi show Rapper Warrior Ninja Show, and if there's an Eric Andre Show after season 5.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Literally can't grasp how timely your special is. You pose the idea of abolishing the government, while the "Abolish police" movement is happening. You say "Abolish the DEA" because it isn't curbing drug addiction. You speak at length about John Calvin, a white historical figure who you say molded society negatively. Was this just something that's been top of mind for a while now?
ERIC ANDRE: I got a lot of the motivation for my special from this book called You Will Die: The Burden of Modern Taboos [by Robert Athur Jr.] When I read that book, it blew my mind. I became pen pals with that author. I would send him transcripts and he would fact check. His attitude is like, "Why are all these consensual adult activities, illegal? Drugs: illegal. Sex work: illegal. The root of it is our puritanical Calvinist attitudes about pleasure. It continues to happen today as a way to punish and marginalize people, or to control them.
With your off-the-wall humor that isn't necessarily left or right politically, have you personally thought about what kind of political beliefs your fanbase has?
Yeah, I have everybody in all parts of the spectrum. I remember when Trump won I went to Washington DC with my girlfriend for the women's march. There were all these MAGA hat people marching, too. White nationalists or whatever. A kid came up to me with a MAGA hat on. He was really sweet. Here's this country bumpkin kid who's like "I know you don't agree with my politics. But I just wanted to say, man, I want to give you a hug because I think you're the funniest f—ing comedian I ever done see." I mean, the working class doesn't want to be divided. It's the billionaires and oligarchs who divide us for power. It's about uniting the proletariat. Anyway, get ready for my fart jokes!
You've done stand-up since forever. You started doing stand-up with your Eric Andre Show partner Hannibal Buress in New York in 2005. Now 15 years later and you're doing season 5 of the show. Has the incentive changed for why you come back to it?
One time Chris Rock called me. It was season 2 or season 3 of the show. I never met him. He got my number from Hannibal. He called me up and he goes, "Eric. I love your show. I want to do it. I'll fly myself. Everything. You don't have to do a f—ing thing. The reason your show works is because there's no two black guys on earth that have less in common than you two."
But now, [Hannibal] is quitting the show! He's like, "I don't want to do it anymore, man. I'm almost 40." I was heartbroken. He has a little cameo at the top but he's in season 5 a very short capacity. When I kicked off season 1, I was like, I just want to get to five. I was like, if I get to five, I can make a decision to either keep the door open and do more or hang it up. I'm going to leave the door open.
What about your Quibi show Rapper Ninja Warrior Show? That was set to have come out by now. What's the update?
Right, it's a spinoff of the Andre Show. But, we can't do anything. To have rappers go through this gauntlet of torturous obstacles and have a live studio audience right now is impossible. I don't want to spread coronavirus!
Eric Andre: Legalize Everything hits Netflix Tuesday.