It took me a couple days to digest everything that I witnessed at Eric Andre performance at the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver on Tuesday.
After some reflection, I think I am ready to take a stab at recapping what I saw.
The night started with the attendees of the sold-out show jockeying for the perfect position near the stage. The house lights were dimmed around 8:45pm, and the electronically controlled shutters on the venues windows lowered at the same time. A triumphant and powerful entrance music rang from the speakers. The audience roared to life with a hefty round of applause and filled the air with excited howls. But the show did not start after that song finished, not at all. The epic arrangement of entrance music went on for approximately forty-five minutes. A loop of tracks that constantly trolled the audience into believing this could be it, this could be the song that introduces The Eric Andre Show.
When the final track finished, the stage curtains retracted, and out walked “Major Entertainer” Mike H. His shtick was to be the anti-opener. The set was arranged to poke fun at being a live performer. A self-reflecting narrative about being an opener, and essentially just pointing out things that comedians do. Included in the presentation were a couple original songs, the best of which being T-Shirts For Sale. A song about him having t-shirts available for purchase at the merch booth. The song itself is funny enough, but the punchline is that Mike H doesn’t even have any t-shirts for sale. I really enjoyed him as an opener. His whole persona reminded me of Neil Hamburger, but take Neil’s angry heckler-assassin vibe and replace it with a playful, the-comedy-is-in-the-obvious approach.
It was a straight shot through to the second act, Atlanta-bred comedian Byron Bowers. His set would turn out to be the most traditional-type of the three performers from the night. A good number of his bits hovered in the realms of sex or race. The jokes were all well written and well delivered, and he didn’t rely on too much shock, just great construction and an ability to connect with the core audience. The best bit from his tight ten was about him sleeping with a woman and having her squirt, his reactions added an exclamation point to the punchlines, and that had the audience roaring with laughter. By all that I just mean he is funny shit, and you should check him out.
The main event came in as the third punch.
Eric Andre ran out on stage and dove into a break-away desk that had been sitting there through the first two sets. He followed that up by grabbing a box from side stage, pulling out a 2 liter of almond milk, pouring some over his own head, and then soaking the crowd with the remainder. Next he pulled out a water gun full of what I will assume was more almond milk, sprayed even more of the audience, and then jumped head first on to the crowd and began a chaotic journey across their outstretched fingers. A journey where he attempted to soak more patrons and attempted desperately to not be dropped on the floor; he was successful on both fronts.
After making his way back on stage, Eric started the show with Byron Bower playing his co-host for the evening, a spot usually filled on the TV version by comedian Hannibal Buress. Mr. Andre pointed out that they couldn’t bring Hannibal this time around because he was on tour, but no one really seemed to care, they were way too excited to see Eric bring his contagious nightmare to Vancouver.
The Eric Andre Show is an interview and pre-recorded skit based comedy show on Adult Swim. A show that sees all levels of anarchy in a boundary-pushing, no-holds-barred environment. Essentially it is carte blanche for Eric Andre and his team to do whatever they want. Many of the skits can be harsh or unnerving, but lots of them have an underlying message. While some may look at what he does and see it just as a sort of new age shock comedy, it can be much more than that at times. It can be a deep look into the mind of its creator, and a reflection of societies fears in the realms of racism, homophobia, and other similar topics. Of course other times it can just be strange for the sake of being strange. Regardless, it is just really fun.
The live show is just a copy of that, a live delivery of the TV version. On this fateful evening the guests ended up being two different audience members and local semi-star Paul Anthony. Each guest’s visit would be separated by pre-recorded skits being played on screens around the venue.
The first audience member invited to the stage was a tall, thin bearded man. After a few awkward interview questions, he was directed to stand up, and pull down his pants. Eric and Byron proceeded to spray the young man’s bare butt with a clear liquid from over-sized novelty syringes. The mob of onlookers were delighted at the site, the chaos had begun.
The second audience member was invited up after it was found he had brought ranch dressing to the venue. Something that fans of the TV show know is encouraged. The young man was asked to ingest both single-serve packages of the white salad topping, after which, Eric Andre pointed out the guest looked like he was going to be sick. The man took this as an invitation to make himself evacuate his stomach, and began shoving his fingers down his own throat in an effort to throw up on stage. It didn’t take long to achieve his goal and soon a mix of a night’s worth of drinks and creamy dressing spilled from his lips. It was hard to watch, but impossible to look away.
The third guest for the evening was Paul Anthony; a Vancouver-based performer that runs an old-school variety show called Paul Anthony’s Talent Time, he also played Rainbow Raider on The Flash TV series. His time on stage was more in-tune with an actual talk show guest. He was asked a series of non-sense questions, and at one point they placed an electronic dog collar on his arm; electrocuting him every time he lied to a question. Of course the game was rigged, so no matter what he said, he was given the intense shock. His visit to the stage concluded the show, and was capped off with a casual tongue-to-tongue kiss between the host and himself.
Eric Andre then leaped back on the crowd and surfed off into the night.
Some of the audience began to filter out, but the show wasn’t truly over. Mr. Andre appeared back on stage completely naked, doing a full tuck of his dick and balls between his legs. He proclaimed to the crowd that he “was been born a woman”, and the proceeded to bend over with his ass towards the mass of people, revealing his full package to a lucky, unlucky?, few.
After all was said and done, it was quite the night. It was funny, and shocking, and chaotic, and random, and intriguing. I had a blast, and so did everyone else in the crowd that I spoke with.
Love him or hate him, Eric Andre knows how to give his fans what they want.