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In his chaotic live shows, Eric Andre detonates a comedy ‘explosion’

Eric AndreCorey Nickols/Getty Images for IMDb

Eric Andre has made a living out of being unpredictable. On “The Eric Andre Show,” now in its sixth season on Adult Swim, he’ll ask guests embarrassing or uninformed questions, then unsettle them with odd situations. “You worked with Michael Jackson and Bill Cosby,” he said to Raven-Symoné. “Tell me what it was like to work with two completely unproblematic men.” When Jaleel White appeared on the show, Andre’s desk opened up to reveal a cooking turkey.

He brought that same vibe to his 2021 Netflix movie “Bad Trip,” and in their new book “Dumb Ideas,” Andre and longtime collaborator Dan Curry offer a behind-the-scenes look at — as the subtitle states — “pranks and other stupid creative endeavors.”


Ahead of “The Eric Andre Explosion” live show at the House of Blues on Tuesday, the Globe caught up with the comedian to dive into the chaos he loves to create, and to look back on his earliest days in stand-up, when he was a Berklee College of Music student moonlighting at Boston comedy clubs.

Q. For the uninitiated, what should people expect to experience at the show Tuesday night?

A. It’s a live version of the talk show. I come out, I destroy the stage. I throw groceries everywhere. I attack the audience. I do a monologue. We show videos. I interview people. I’ll call people’s ex-girlfriend or ex-boyfriend on FaceTime during the show and try to get them back together.

Q. The reviews I’ve read of the live show describe the audiences as terrified. Would you say that’s accurate?

A. Yeah. And they shouldn’t be. It’s a dangerous show. It’s the most dangerous comedy show I think that’s ever been. I think I’m the first comedy show to have a mosh pit break out during the show. So it’s gonna be a fun time.


Q. What’s the reaction you want to see from the audience? It seems like maybe it’s more than just laughter.

A. Shock. Dismay. Fatigue. The usual.

Q. You have a new book called “Dumb Ideas.” Why is the dumbest idea the best idea?

A. You know, it’s a question as old as time. Comedy is not intellectual, comedy is primal. And what makes us laugh are the things that tickle our inner caveman or cavewoman. So I think there’s something special when you get the smartest comedians together in a room and force them to come up with the most immature, asinine, sixth-grade jokes. There’s a special magic that happens.

Q. In the trailer for the new show, I think you pour McDonald’s burgers, fries, and shakes into a pitcher …

A. Oh, yeah, I asked the crowd if they want to drink McDonald’s. Most of the show is just people drinking various substances that they shouldn’t drink.

Q. That’s not really an idea you can work out in the clubs before you bring it on the road. So how do you know what’s going to work and what isn’t? Or don’t you?

A. You don’t. I tape every show, and we watch the tapes on the way to the next city, and we’re constantly trying to adjust the show and make it better and better and better. You try to just keep what’s always getting laughs and cut what’s not getting laughs.


Q. How do you decide who you want to be a guest on the Adult Swim show and what you want to do with them?

A. We come up with 200 gags that we can do to any guest, and we bring those into production, because we book the guest last. And then we have like a gigantic Vanna White wall of all these torturous events that could potentially occur, and then when the guests come in, we assign the guests to the particular gags. You don’t want a guest that’s too cool or hip or is familiar with my show or is familiar with Adult Swim. You don’t want them trying to play along. You want them completely blindsided.

Q. Are you ever surprised at how well the guests take the things that you throw at them?

A. I’m usually bummed when they take it well. That’s usually like a bit of a letdown.

Q. On the other hand, there are occasions when I’m just surprised that you haven’t been murdered. Like there was a real estate agent from an episode of a few years ago that looked like they really wanted to kill you.

A. That guy was frustrated [laughs]. I think I almost got killed during “Bad Trip.” The first prank Rel [Howery] and I shot, a guy took a knife on us, and that was a little bit difficult.

Q. Have you decided whether you want to do a seventh season yet?


A. I don’t know. The door’s always open.

Q. When you were studying upright bass at Berklee, where did you think you’d end up career-wise?

A. I wasn’t really sure. I was figuring it all out. I knew I wanted to work at a record label to see the machinations of the music industry, and I interned at a label. I kind of knew I wanted to live in New York, and I knew I wanted to be in the entertainment business in some way, shape, or form.

Q. Did you perform comedy for the first time in front of an audience while you were in Boston? There’s a photo of you at the old Comedy Connection in front of the pink piano and the green window in the book.

A. Wow, yeah. Comedy Connection. Nick’s Comedy Stop, Dick Doherty’s. The Comedy Studio. I’d do bars. I did the All-Asia in Cambridge. Those are like the very, very, very first stand-up shows I did.

Q. Do you remember the first, where it was, and how it went?

A. It went well. I remember that was the first time I was like, “Oh! This is what I should be pursuing.”


At the House of Blues. Dec. 5 at 6 p.m. $49.50-$69.50. houseofblues.com/boston

Interview was edited and condensed. Nick A. Zaino III can be reached at nick@nickzaino.com.