Welcome to What’s the Buzz, 25YL’s feature where members of our staff provide you with recommendations on a weekly basis. In our internet age, there is so much out there to think about watching, reading, listening to, etc., that it can be hard to separate the wheat from the chaff, filter out the noise, or find those diamonds in the rough. But have no fear! We’re here to help you do that thing I just described with three different metaphors. Each week a rotating cast of writers will offer their recommendations based on things they have discovered. They won’t always be new to the world, but they’ll be new to us, or we hope new to you. This week, Hawk Ripjaw is watching Eric Andre Legalize Everything, Vincent Greene recommends El Chapo, and Brien Allen checks out NOS4A2 Season 2.
Eric Andre Legalize Everything
Hawk: Eric Andre’s first Netflix stand-up special, Legalize Everything, is an interesting viewing experience. The performance artist has a long tenure on Adult Swim, in which The Eric Andre Show has spent several seasons aping the late night talk show format. Andre’s M.O. in this show is to make his guest as uncomfortable as possible, whether that be having something foul-smelling beneath their chair, startling the guest by having something suddenly burst from his desk, or simply doing things such as publicly posting Seth Rogen’s cell phone number or asking bizarre questions. The fact that Hannibal Burress guests as an extremely laid-back guest is just the icing. Andre will also approach strangers on the street, doing things such as guzzling a bottle of ranch dressing (“Ranch it up!” he bellows) or making remarks/asking questions that could have very well gotten him beaten up had a production crew and (probably) a lawyer not intervened. The Eric Andre Show is one of the most uniquely bizarre things on TV, and I’ve been excited for more Eric Andre since the special was announced.
What makes this special such an aforementioned interesting viewing experience is that anyone who knows how Andre operates will know what to expect, and anyone who doesn’t will know pretty much everything they need to know. The special eases Andre strangers into a new one of his street skits, in which Andre—dressed as a cop—openly invites strangers to sample drugs “from the evidence room” with him on the streets of New Orleans before dropping his pants and humping a building. Andre thrives on shock value, and his style mostly works live on stage. An early joke involves his desire to have a “cocaine helmet” with one straw up each nostril, and subsequent jokes often devolve into him screaming. It’s emblematic of his entire style: loud, bizarre, and kind of intimidating. But with how crazy everything is, it’s surprisingly something else—soothing.
With the unpredictability of 2020 being genuinely terrifying, Eric Andre’s brand of chaos, compartmentalized in a Netflix special, feels like a safe way to indulge pent-up frustration. Andre screams, bellows, climbs on audience members, rolls around on stage, pulls up his shirt, and in nearly every way pushes himself to the limit. It is clear by the end of the 50-minute special that he is physically and mentally exhausted, but fulfilled in how he’s expended his anxiety. I was initially disappointed that the special was relatively short, but it moves with such a consistently high level of energy that the length feels appropriate.
All of that would mean much less if it wasn’t funny, which it is. Legalize Everything is hilarious, particularly for fans of Andre, and I would surmise that those unaware of Eric Andre will have fun as well. He has a tendency to escalate jokes to the absolute extreme. Sometimes they’re just goofy, other times they’re uncomfortable to the point that it’s clear the audience doesn’t know how to react, but often they’re a vessel for Andre to explore some societal anxieties. One of the best jokes of the special involves Andre discussing how inappropriate it is for COPS to have a reggae theme song, and devolves into him screaming about racial injustice. It’s blunt, jarring, funny, but also extremely poignant in Andre’s own way.
I don’t generally enjoy Andre’s style of comedy when others are attempting it, but there’s something about the way that Andre performs it, both in his show and onstage, that works. Privately, he’s a passionate and apparently anxious person, and his performance style feels like a huge release of all of that energy and anxiety, and something that I personally can relate to. Sometimes you want to just scream in frustration, and Andre has effectively weaponized that urge into a very funny stand-up performance.