With his unmatched energy and penchant for taking his comedy to unpredictable, uncomfortable, and occasionally even dangerous places, Eric Andre has fashioned a career through forcing audiences to expect the unexpected. This is best (and most famously) displayed on The Eric Andre Show, a subversive late night talk show that’s midway through its fourth season on Adult Swim. Back in July, when Eric Andre Live! was booked at Turner Hall, prospective audience members were, again, left with little to no clue of what to expect. Would an adaptation of the TV show hold up in a live format? Could Andre’s material—and his body, for that matter—sustain an hour-long performance of something that’s usually crammed aggressively into a 10- or 11-minute serving?
By the time Sunday night’s sold-out Eric Andre Live! performance at Turner Hall had concluded, two desks were broken, countless audience members were covered in milk and salad dressing, an aspiring rapper had been shocked and accused of killing Harambe, and Andre was left standing naked before hundreds of cheering show-goers.
Before Andre took the stage, the passionate crowd—some of whom had joined in a season two callback chant of “turn that poop into wine!” moments earlier—was warmed up by the self-aware opener song stylings of Major Entertainer and a short-but-strong set by comedian Byron Bowers. Before Bowers departed, he introduced “Morpheus,” which was actually beloved comedian and Eric Andre Show sidekick Hannibal Buress dressed like the character Laurence Fishburne portrayed in The Matrix, rapping poorly. Donning a long leather duster and a plush purple dress shirt, Buress stayed on stage to riff and to reprise a few jokes from past specials, a practice one audience member was quick to acknowledge. Buress tore into the fan, explaining how he was saving new material for a show when he was performing alone and making much more money. “So catch me next time, Milwaukee,” he started. “I’ll be playing the Riverside.”
After he brought his solo set to a close, Buress stayed out to introduce the show’s eponymous host. True to the Adult Swim program’s opening sequence, Andre bounded out on stage and proceeded to destroy his set. He smashed through his desk, poured milk all over himself and the audience, pelted the crowd with bread and lettuce, executed three stage dives, and was left wheezing and exhausted. The 900-some anti-comedy aficionados packed into the ballroom ate up his “Words, words, words, words, words, words, punchline!” monologue, the obligatory mention of sausage and cheese curds (“How’s my pandering, Milwaukee?”), and some Wave Chapelle-related banter Buress incited thereafter.
Much like the TV show, Eric Andre Live! offered occasional cutaways of Andre in man-on-the-street clips, all of which were (or will be) aired on season four. Also like the show, the live outing included uncomfortable interviews. The first one featured a random audience member who had his regional accent mocked and his bare ass squirted with a comically oversized syringe during a “It’s Time To Get Vaccinated” segment. The second one found Andre asking a doctor (of ancient history) about pap smears, calling him a narc because he wouldn’t write Buress an Adderall prescription, and accusing the doctor of being a sleeper cell for ISIS before he abruptly destroyed his set again.
Along the way there were some cameos that rewarded longtime viewers and surely won over new fans. In accordance with his “Ranch it up!” and “Legalize Ranch” rally cries, Andre rounded up two audience members to chug bottles of the creamy dressing until the “winner” puked. Everybody involved proceeded to empty bottle after bottle of dressing onto the first few rows of the audience. The cheesy Daft Punk knockoff, Kraftpunk, also dropped by to toss slices into the crowd. Andre brought the wild and experimental show to a close by serenading a just-interrogated and repeatedly shocked rapper named Superego while the host’s pants were around his ankles and his penis was tucked between his legs. It was a puzzling, uncomfortable, and uproariously funny ending to an incredibly entertaining night.
Before reemerging fully nude (save for a bow tie and a generous dousing of dressing thrown on him by the audience), Andre screamed “We did it, Milwaukee! They said it couldn’t be done, but we did it Milwaukee!” It’s more likely Eric Andre was told the events that took place at Turner Hall shouldn’t be done. Even so, close to 1,000 bro-tendos left the ballroom messy, rattled, and undoubtedly happy they got to ranch it up with one of modern comedy’s most unique and fearless talents.
[Video courtesy of Van DeBauche]