Comedian Eric Andre Tells Us Why We Need to “Pop the Zit” of Police Brutality
Eric Andre, the renegade prankster and Ranch dressing enthusiast, is not afraid of touching any subject—including his own genitalia. In his upcoming Netflix special, Legalize Everything, out June 23, the comedian behind Adult Swim’s The Eric Andre Show discusses drugs, Burning Man, police brutality, and any number of topics his wild yet pinpoint-sharp mind decides to tackle. (Then, predictably, he drops his pants.) Andre, who was born in Boca Raton, Florida to a Jewish mother and Haitian father, has a unique perspective on just about everything. He’s usually either yelling or gyrating, generating laughs and wonder with a seemingly limitless supply of energy. But when we spoke with him on June 3, in the midst of national upheaval, Andre seemed more fatigued than usual. In this conversation, he still makes us laugh—about tanning beds and his stint as the GEICO caveman—but he also talks about his encounters with the police, protesting in L.A., and why this country looks like “an apartheid state.” In his words, “What an uplifting article!”
ERIC ANDRE: Hey, what’s up, Jacob?
JACOB UITTI: Hello, sir! How are you, Eric? I know that’s a sort of loaded question today—and everyday, maybe. But let me just ask, how is Los Angeles today?
ANDRE: Los Angeles… is… nice… [Laughs]. I’m trying to convince the mayor to fire the police chief because the L.A.P.D. has murdered, like, 601 people in the last seven years with no repercussions. So, I just sent a video to Mayor Garcetti to fire the police chief, Michel Moore.
UITTI: Have you been out in the streets at all?
ANDRE: Yeah, I went to protest at the mayor’s house yesterday and I went to protest in Mariachi Square on Saturday.
UITTI: I went to your Twitter and there’s a lot there. Speaking candidly, I just started crying. Just tears coming to my eyes seeing the stuff on Twitter. What’s the role of Twitter in your life right now, as it pertains to the current protests?
ANDRE: I don’t know. I don’t really go on Twitter that much. I re-tweet a couple things. But Twitter feels like Gen-X, Boomer-y. I feel like Instagram is a little more Millennial-centric, which is fine. But I don’t gravitate towards Twitter, I gravitate towards Instagram. It’s more visual; you can do more with the medium. I honestly think Trump kind of ruined Twitter. Twitter’s passé.
UITTI: Is art and performance something you’re thinking about right now? Are you thinking about the role of comedy in a moment like this? Or are you more just trying to stay above water?
ANDRE: I’m always thinking of comedy. I mean, comedy kind of comes out of tragedy. That’s why Black people and Jewish people dominate at comedy—because it’s an existence of tragedy and ancestral tragedy. Comedy is a coping mechanism.
UITTI: You mentioned your heritage. Have you been talking with your parents about this week’s events?
ANDRE: Yeah, I mean, my parents lived through the ’60s. But my mom lived in a time when you weren’t allowed to share a water fountain with people of a different race. And my dad escaped a dictatorship in Haiti, so they’ve kind of seen it all before. They’re not as shocked as a Millennial, as somebody born in the ’80s and ’90s, but they’ve seen that this is history repeating.
UITTI: Is there any advice or calm they’ve offered you?
ANDRE: My parents are more worried about COVID. They’re like, “Don’t go out into large crowds, you’ll get COVID!” And they’ve been very politically active and politically-minded their whole lives. So, they’re more worried about the virus than the race apocalypse.
UITTI: Did I read correctly that you’re going to be using tanning beds for the next season of your talk show coming up?
ANDRE: Oh, yeah! For season 4, the previous season, I got really pale and gaunt and lost weight. I grew out my fingernails, I didn’t brush my hair, I didn’t put deodorant on the whole year. For season 5, I gained a bunch of weight. I got rid of all my body hair. I did a tanning bed and tanned outside every day. I bleached my teeth, I wore tons of bad Brut cologne. I did a whole body modification as a rebuttal to season 4. I did the opposite body-mod. I didn’t gain that much weight—I gained, like, 20 pounds. I got to 205; I’m usually 185.
UITTI: What did you use to gain weight?
ANDRE: Doughnuts and Snickers bars, baby!
UITTI: That must have been fun?
ANDRE: It’s fun but it’s depressing.
UITTI: I don’t know a whole lot about your relationship with Hannibal Buress. Can you talk about how you guys found out that you had chemistry with one another, and what it’s like to work together on The Eric Andre Show?
ANDRE: I’ve known him forever, since I started doing standup comedy. We were both doing, like, shitty, kind of miserable open mics, and I just knew from the beginning how funny he was. I had this talk show idea since 2006 and I was, like, “Who would be the best, who’d be opposite in energy for me? Oh, Hannibal!”
UITTI: He’s so laid back.
ANDRE: Yeah, it’s just, like, holy matrimony. He quits the new season, though, by the way!
UITTI: He does?!
ANDRE: Yeah, he’s in the first couple episodes, and then he quits mid-episode. He called me and was, like, “I don’t want to do this.” And I was like, “Yeah, alright, we’re getting ready for season 5.” He’s like, “Nah, you took too long, man. I don’t want to do this show anymore.” I was like, “WHAT?!” He’s like, “Yeah, I don’t know.” And the more you push him, the more he resists, so, I had to beg him to just do a couple episodes. But he was over it. He didn’t want to do the show anymore.
UITTI: Can I please ask you: What was it like to be a GEICO caveman?
ANDRE: It was great because I was making money. I wasn’t even on, like, the popular commercials. I was just, like, a corporate mascot. They would send me to sporting events and music events. And I would dress up like a caveman and it was awesome. They’d give me, like, $5,000 per event. It paid my rent for the year!
UITTI: Can you tell me about the ending of your special, when you dropped your pants? Was that planned or was that in the moment?
ANDRE: That was requested by the crowd! Just for editing, we cut it down. Every show I do, it’s like, “Show your dick! Show your cock!” Men and women! “Get naked! You’re the naked guy!”
UITTI: It’s great when they do the camera behind you. In the front you can’t see anything, but then in the back …
ANDRE: From the front, it’s called a “Buffalo Bill.” From the back, it’s called, “The Pressed Fruit Bowl.” And the real way to do a Pressed Fruit Bowl is to press it up against a glass window. Just wanted to give you some clarity there!
UITTI: What do you like about Ranch dressing? That comes up fairly frequently in your work.
ANDRE: That’s part of a character. I don’t personally care either way for ranch dressing, unless I’m drunk eating pizza. But it’s part of this party dude character. His shorthand name is “Businessman Bro.” He’s the ultimate party dude but he wants to party with only businessmen. And he loves ranch. He loves weird, pedestrian things.
UITTI: Speaking of weird … the upcoming presidential race.
ANDRE: Like, I guess we have to vote for Joe Biden? Because what else can we do? But it’s pretty disappointing that the establishment Dems had four years to come up with a good candidate and they came up with somebody that’s, like, a stammering, stuttering, Cryptkeeper-looking guy who’s, like, already been MeToo’d. He has a horrible track record with mass incarceration and he’s pro-fracking. He’s got a laundry list of bad shit. But Trump’s a Nazi. [Laughs] So, it’s like, I’ll have the mumbling, bumbling corporate politician over the complete psychopath Nazi guy with worms eating his brain. A hundred thousand people have died from COVID; he’s not doing anything about it. He’s just, like, enforcing police brutality. The guy is a reality star from Celebrity Apprentice who inherited his dad’s real estate fortune. He’s just a spoiled trust fund kid who partied with Jeff Epstein. If he wins, we’re doomed. I think it’s beyond being partisan right now. It’s not Republican versus Democrat. It’s the world against Trump. He panders directly to the heart of white racist people. That’s the majority of the country. It’s like an apartheid state.
Did I just divide my audience by reluctantly settling for Biden? I don’t know. I’m just looking at America, practically. We’re in the worst economy with the worst unemployment rate since the Great Depression. There’s no leadership. We have a pandemic health crisis that’s not getting any better. We have a race war on our hands. I know in 2016, when Trump came into power, we had none of those problems. Now we have every problem. It’s only four years in. Can you imagine eight years?
UITTI: If you could choose the Vice President, who would you pick?
ANDRE: I don’t know, RuPaul?
UITTI: How are you feeling in this moment right now?
ANDRE: I have mixed emotions. I feel invigorated to get politically active now that people see the atrocity of police brutality. It’s at the forefront of the American psyche. So that’s ultimately good because it’s a problem. It’s like a whitehead and all the pus comes to the front and we have to pop the zit together. So, I’m feeling hopeful. I think they have just upgraded that one cop’s charge from third-degree murder to second-degree murder. They’re charging the other police. I hope that real change is going to come out of this. We’re at a tipping point. So, I’m feeling, actually, hopeful. I’m feeling positive. And I’m going to try and remain positive.
UITTI: Has there been an occasion of police brutality that you’ve experienced that you are willing to talk about?
ANDRE: I’ve been arrested a couple of times while shooting the show. But, I mean, in those cases, I earned it. [Laughs] I mean, if you think cops are racist outside of jail, once you’re in jail, they say every pejorative in the book. They’re dropping N-bombs. They’re calling Mexican prisoners “Burritos” and shit like that. They’re blatantly racist once you’re behind bars, which nobody gets to film on their iPhone because they take all your property when you get in there. Some people do successfully sneak iPhones into prison, and I think that should keep happening. Now, the rudest cop I ever had was, actually, ironically, a black cop in Atlanta. Black cops are really rough on Black people and Latin cops are really rough on Latin people. So, I think that should be talked about a little bit, too. Because it’s, like, weird fucked up Uncle Tom bullshit. It’s like, “Thanks, y’all, who’s fucking side are you on?” That should be dissected a little bit right now, too.
UITTI: Yes, sir. Thank you.
ANDRE: [Laughs] What an uplifting article! Watch my fucking comedy special, y’all! Wooooo!