"Ladies and Gentlemen, it's The Eric Andre Show!"
When you google Eric Andre, one of the first results is his name next to his current girlfriend, Rosario Dawson, and a plethora of articles asking how such a weird man could lock down such a beautiful woman. Those familiar with The Eric Andre Show are not surprised by his manic comedy, sometimes so absurd and nauseating it's hard to watch, but that's the point: a talk show so unwatchable that you end up watching it anyway. So while Andre's love interests are shocking—giving hope to all the goofy men worldwide—his comedy is even more startling, a chaotic mix of absurdism, shock humor, pranks, celebrity interviews, and lots of public vomiting. And in an even weirder turn of events, Eric Andre has garnered a cult following and his show, one of the worst shows on television, is lauded amongst household names in comedy like Jimmy Kimmel, Chris Rock, and Seth Rogen to name a few.
On The Surface
Home to the stoner-esque late night programming of Adult Swim (someone cue a Flying Lotus music bump), The Eric Andre Show is an absurdist talk show modeled after public-access programs on cable. The show is intentionally filmed to appear low-budget and often uses scrap pieces from drywall to build the set, most notably, Andre's desk that he breaks on most—if not every—ten minute episodes. Hour-long interviews with noticeably uncomfortable A-list and B-list celebrities are condensed into two to three minutes of mayhem, packed with awkward and inappropriate commentary from Andre and his co-host Hannibal Buress (who's the perfect stoned foil to Andre's lunacy). For bigger names, Andre enlists unknown actors (who appear to be chosen from an open call) for clumsy, if not, excruciating, celebrity impersonations: an Asian man who impersonates Jay-Z, a Black man who impersonates Reese Witherspoon, a malnourished and slurring Russel Brand, and a George Clooney impersonator that slightly passes for a relative of the Clooney family if you squint your eyes. The objective is to be as insane, loud, and aggressive as possible—trying to make sense of any given episode is not the point. If Andre isn't physically tormenting his guests by filling their seats with rotten clams, heating lamps, or dripping water on them from the ceiling, he's psychologically tormenting them and pushing their personal boundaries.
Analyzing The Eric Andre Show is probably the funniest thing a person could do, but the show itself deserves recognition for its destruction and perversion of everything normal and comfortable in traditional TV. A modern deconstruction of the late night talk show, The Eric Andre Show is the antithesis to polished, family-friendly shows like The Late Night Show with Stephen Colbert, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, and Conan. As an anti-talk show, Andre is able to parody talk show conventions and strip celebrities down to their normal, everyday selves. Nothing is more cathartic than watching T.I. or Steve Schirripa attempt to stave off Andre's advances until finally succumbing to all-American rage. (Who can forget watching The Hill's Lauren Conrad walk off set due to Andre's one-to-many body fluids?) And there's Eric Andre's brand of absurdism that's always a result of some type of mental break or existential crisis relating to death—and anyone familiar with the streets of NYC knows this type of performative madness is something you see on the way to work while buying your eight dollar coffee at Starbucks. Existentialism is a big part of The Eric Andre Show, a companion to Andre's opening monologues and street sketches (filmed in NYC and Los Angeles), there's never a dull moment—because really, how does a man this crazy live in society?—and credit must be given to Andre's physical comedy and unrelenting stamina. The experience can be hellish, with viewers never fully aware of what's staged and authentic (particularly the guest reactions), and each episode feels like an unnerving fever dream. The 1980's studio vibe enhances the psychedelic and feverish experience of the show, almost like a weird instructional video on how not to make a TV program.
Are you looking to ranch it up or find a Sprite sponsorship? Do you have a penchant for Kat Williams slicked, straightened hair, or untamed afros? Do you enjoy watching Hannibal Buress eat weird foods behind celebrities, while Eric Andre applies lipstick? If you answered yes, then The Eric Andre Show is your guilty pleasure, a home to your wildest inclinations and TV viewing pleasures, and maybe even an in-house Questlove.
POP⚡ DUST Score: ⚡⚡⚡⚡⚡
Shaun Harris is a poet, freelance writer, and editor published in avant-garde, feminist journals. Lover of warm-toned makeup palettes, psych-rock, and Hilton Als. Her work has allowed her to copyedit and curate content for various poetry organizations in the NYC area.
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The Trump-Twitter Industrial Complex continues to fester and mutate.
This week, President Donald J. Trump tweeted a false statement about mail-in ballots.
He wrote that secretaries of state were sending mail-in ballots to every person, when actually states are only sending out ballot applications. For the first time, Twitter jumped in to fact-check Trump's statement, adding a link to a webpage full of information about mail-in ballots.
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Was the Jimmy Fallon Blackface Skit Intentionally Released as a Distraction from the Murder of George Floyd?
Racist police violence is a modern epidemic. So why are we talking about an SNL skit from 2000?
At this point, celebrity apologies are incredibly common. In 2020, it seems like some formerly beloved actor or TV personality is being put through the wringer of public opinion a few times a week.
Most recently, Twitter canceled Jimmy Fallon after an unquestionably racist skit from the 2000 season of SNL resurfaced online. The skit features Fallon impersonating Chris Rock, complete with black face and an offensive imitation of Rock's speech patterns.
Jimmy Fallon Blackface youtu.be
This quickly led to the hashtag #jimmyfallonisoverparty trending on Twitter. While fans seemed split on whether Fallon should be forgiven for the 20-year-old misstep, most everyone agreed that Fallon should apologize regardless. This morning, he did just that in the form of a tweet.
As far as celebrity apologies go, Fallon's is a pretty good one. He doesn't try to sidestep the blame, he doesn't bring up the fact that there were undoubtedly many, many other individuals involved in the creation of the skit, and he doesn't even mention the fact that in 2000, many people still thought it was possible for black face to be done in the spirit of fun, because the deeply racist nature of the act was largely ignored in mainstream (white) media. Of course, we know better now, and it's easy to see that a white person doing an exaggerated imitation of a black person—darkened skin included—can only be a racist, belittling act with a long, dark history of racial oppression. With that in mind, Fallon's only option was to apologize without caveat or reservation. Indeed, it's refreshing to see a celebrity apology that doesn't try to justify or minimize their own misstep. While we can all agree Fallon made a terrible, racist choice 20 years ago, we have to believe that, like all of us, he's grown since then. If cancel culture is to have any efficacy in making the world a better place, it has to leave room for forgiveness and growth. Hopefully, the whole affair will leave Fallon (and those who witnessed it) more racially sensitive.
All of that being said, one has to ask why the clip was brought up now, given that it's been circulated around the Internet before, and the specific YouTube clip that was shared was posted on the site over a year ago. It's also worth noting that the version of the clip that was going around Twitter has a text overlay that reads: "NBC FIRED MEGAN KELLY FOR MENTIONING BLACKFACE. JIMMY FALLON PERFORMED ON NBC IN BLACKFACE."
Megan Kelly, an outspoken conservative, was indeed fired from her job at NBC because she defended the use of blackface in Halloween costumes, saying on her talk show, "Truly, you do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface for Halloween, or a black person who put on whiteface for Halloween," she said. "When I was a kid, that was OK as long as you were dressing up as a character." While Fallon's instance of racial insensitivity was in 2000, Kelly defended blackface in 2019, long after society at large had begun to acknowledge the hurt that blackface and other forms of racial impersonation could cause. This fundamental difference aside, Kelly also has a long history of racial insensitivity that Fallon does not, even once saying, "What is the evidence that what happened to Eric Garner and what happened to Michael Brown has anything to do with race?" in a conversation about the epidemic of racist police officers in America.
Given the text overlay, it's pretty clear that whoever began the #jimmyfallonisoverparty was not necessarily seeking justice for the black community, but was instead trying to imply hypocrisy in the cancellation of Megan Kelly, given that Fallon (who has been outspoken about the flaws of the Trump administration and political pundits like Kelly) is still on the air. One even has to wonder if, given that it's obvious that the #jimmyfallonisoverparty trend was begun by a conservative individual or group, if the trend was meant to be a distraction from the widespread racist police violence that has been emphasized in recent weeks by incidents like the death of George Floyd, a black man who was murdered in Minneapolis by a white police officer on Monday. It seems oddly coincidental that the clip of Fallon should flood the Internet with controversy the day after Floyd's murder, unfortunately serving to help steer conversation away from Floyd's unjust death.
Indeed, under the unquestionably racist Donald Trump administration, more and more black people are being harassed, attacked, and murdered at the hands of racist white civilians and police officers. But Trump and his supporters don't want you to focus on that–so much so that it doesn't feel impossible that the Fallon skit was intentionally weaponized as a distraction.
In the last few weeks alone we learned that Ahmaud Arbery was murdered senselessly by a white man while simply out for a jog, and we all witnessed the harassment of Christian Cooper, a black man who was threatened by a white woman in Central Park who didn't want to put her dog on a leash. It's clear that racism in America cannot be reduced to insensitive skits from 20 years ago but is instead a current and deadly problem. What Jimmy Fallon did in 2000 was racist, yes; but don't let that distract you from the deadly consequences of racism in 2020, don't let celebrity apologies make you take your eyes of our lawmakers, who aren't doing enough to protect people of color in this country. Don't let the latest "#_____isoverparty" trend distract you from the deadly consequences of racism in our laws, culture, and criminal justice system.
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