Four years isn’t a long time. But if you’ve been waiting for The Eric Andre Show to return, it’s excruciating. The titular comedian began his chaotic, inverted talk show reign over seven years ago, alongside fellow comedian and cohost Hannibal Buress, shooting the test pilot in an abandoned bodega and working his way up in popularity and production value with each new season. In every bizarre, eleven-minute episode, Andre and Burress flip the talk show television format on its head. They torment one or two bewildered celebrities expecting a normal spot to promote themselves, only to be met with a house of horrors that includes vomiting, döppelgangers, snakes, spiders, scorpions, the host’s bare ass, and a gaggle of other unpleasantries.
Filmed over a grueling amount of time, in an occasionally sweltering, smelly sound stage, the bulk of The Eric Andre Show is ultimately disposed of for the final cut. Andre introduces each episode by shrieking and destroying his own set in a uniquely insane capacity, and in between each talk show segment, he inserts bits of himself filmed out in the world, pranking and plaguing unsuspecting bystanders. The episode typically finishes with a musical guest presented in some absurd fashion, such as rappers being forced to perform their craft through a ludicrous obstacle course. But even with its vague attempt at regularity, the path each episode takes, from beginning to end, is always anyone’s guess.
The show has maintained a perverted appeal and an exceedingly passionate cult fanbase. Popular bits become Halloween costumes for devoted millennials. Stills and quotes from the show are repurposed as enduring internet memes and reaction images. And it has always been a delight to see which celebrity guests are on board with Andre’s erratic wavelength, and which ones would rather be anywhere else. Thus, in honor of the series’ triumphant return (and Andre’s commitment to keeping it going, instead of ending it after Season 5, which he’d previously contemplated), I’ve done the near-impossible: aggregated a list of the ten best (well, my personal picks for ten best) moments from the inimitable The Eric Andre Show.
10. Demi Lovato
One of the more under-the-radar interviews, Demi Lovato‘s appearance on the “Eric Andre Show New Year’s Eve Spooktacular” special from Season 1 is also one of the more sympathy-inducing: you can really feel just how truly terrified this girl is. She comes out onto the stage accompanied by ceaseless smoke and flashing strobe lights, doing her best at her talk show “smile and waves,” but you can tell she senses that something is off.
After Andre insists to Lovato how great she looks — and Lovato is clearly trying to smile through the pain — he compares himself looking like “Jar Jar Binks if he was a burn victim” and claims Hannibal Burress looks like “Bunsen from The Muppet Show if he was in Blackface.” This is when the sanity safety seal is officially broken for Demi Lovato. She and Andre are both given plates of spaghetti by stagehands. Lovato holds hers, totally confounded, while Andre voraciously consumes his in front of her. Then musician Sebastian Bach appears for no reason and disappears after Lovato recognizes him.
It’s a particularly great interview because A) it’s genuinely incredible that Andre was able to book a pop star in Season 1, and B) Demi Lovato looks like she’s genuinely afraid for her life the whole time.
9. Erics on the Street
In a variation of his “Eric on the Street” bit, Andre attaches himself to a makeshift conga line of multiple dummy döppelgangers of himself and torments civilians on a night on the town. Apparently copying a bit already done on Youtube — he claims during the bit — he gratuitously shoves his multiple Erics into people’s faces under the guise of an accident, screaming, bumping into a man’s crotch, straddling a busy street chanting “I hate myself. I hate myself. I hate myself” and pleading to be run over by a car.
The pièce de résistance of the bit, however, culminates when he shoves his way through the door of an adult video store and a young, nerdy-looking employee becomes highly irate with him, insisting that he get out. Eventually, the young man resorts to force, and soon Andre and his fake Erics are all tumbling their way out of the store, falling down and eventually becoming stuck. It’s such a silly, slapstick ending. And with the added unexpected hilarity of the porn shop being managed by a guy who looks like a teenager.
8. Pauly D
Pauly D seems to have been one of the few guests who had no idea what to expect on The Eric Andre Show and still actually came out having a genuinely good time. Initially a little off-put and confused, he eventually breaks out into laughter while blindfolded and having hot dogs shoved in his face, followed by one of Andre’s infamous “döppelganger bits.” In this, attempted “doubles” of Andre, Burress, and Andre’s guest emerge onto the set and try to mimic the real versions of each person on the spot.
To boot, Andre’s double this time is played by Andy Samberg, who Pauly D definitely recognizes, and he’s cracking up almost the entire time. Even when Andre pulls his pants down and reveals his tucked penis (to which Samberg vehemently and hilariously opposes mimicking himself for the bit), Pauly D seems utterly delighted. He even took to Facebook sometime after to promote his appearance on the show (with a photo where he looks extremely jazzed to be there). A rare Eric Andre success story.
7. “Can I hold your baby?”
One of Season 1’s most absurd and ethically dubious sketch premises involves Andre and Burress going to a playground and attempting to pull off an ill-conceived “Who can hold the most babies?” contest. The two adult men embark on a quest to harass parents and children alike, in their competition to see who can simply hold the most babies. However, Andre is the only one who actually participates, as Burress continues to tell the camera he doesn’t actually want to do it, hypothesizing reasons for why children might want to be held by Andre instead.
It’s extremely uncomfortable to watch and, eventually, Andre literally makes a kid cry. After a second child becomes visibly distraught at the idea of Andre picking them up, Andre walks away, proceeding to laugh and concede to the camera that he hates the bit, and probably shouldn’t have done it. It’s a rare, singular moment of defeat for Eric Andre, and it’s hilarious.
6. Lauren Conrad doesn’t know who Waka Flocka is
This list wouldn’t be a “Best Eric Andre Show moments” list without the inclusion of the fan-favorite crown jewel of all horrible Eric Andre interviews gone wrong: the Lauren Conrad interview. The star of The Hills infamously walked off the set when Andre spewed fake vomit and began eating it in front of her. And it was revealed in a recent “Hot Ones” episode that Conrad’s publicist told Andre afterward that he’d never have a career in the entertainment business.
But the best part of the wonderfully agonizing interview is when Hannibal Burress asks Conrad if she listens to the rapper Waka Flocka Flame, someone fairly well known at this point in pop culture. She answers, genuinely uncertain, already scared, “Is that a band? Or a song?” and Burress replies, “That’s a… a man,” hesitating in quiet stupefaction over her not knowing. She tries to save face by claiming she actually might know who Flocka is, and Burress proceeds to mimic Waka Flocka’s boisterous rapping style in front of her. This only terrifies Conrad further.
5. Abby Lee Miller
In my humble opinion, Abby Lee Miller’s appearance on the Season 4 premiere perfectly encapsulates Andre’s deconstruction and mockery-making of the celebrity talk show machine. It’s one of the less painful or embarrassing unwitting guest appearances. Instead, it’s one of the bleakest. The Dance Moms star emerges onto the sound stage all big fake smiles and waves to Andre’s empty, non-existent audience, too eager for another opportunity to promote herself and her reality show. But Miller is almost immediately broken down by Andre’s tests of emotional and mental endurance, as she grimly realizes that she is not on this show to be flaunted, but to be guffawed at like a zoo animal.
As soon as Andre voluntarily collapses into his own desk and crumples onto the floor, Miller is immediately removed from her limelight comfort zone. She glances around, bewildered, seemingly looking for help. It’s one of the best examples of the way Andre inverts talk show culture, in how he makes pampered celebrities feel genuinely vulnerable. They’re forced to do something unspeakable in front of an audience: be themselves.
4. Robert Forster instant interview
The late, great Robert Forster‘s appearance in Season 1 is another one of the less talked about of the series, but I’d argue it’s the most legendary. And one of the more genuinely wholesome. Not even filmed on Andre’s sound stage, the bit follows Andre, Burress, and the camera crew as they accost Forster while he’s eating at a restaurant outside in public, reading a newspaper. Andre sits down in the empty seat next to the Jackie Brown actor, a portable curtain is placed behind the two of them, and then Burress ambles up alongside Andre, putting together a makeshift Eric Andre Show stage just for Forster.
Forster is initially bewildered and a little perturbed. Then he seems charmingly intrigued by whatever this insane young man is doing to him. He introduces himself warmly to Andre as “Bob,” they shake hands, and the two have a brief chat about doing drugs and having unprotected sex in the ’60s. “What kinda show is this?” the “instant interview” ends with him asking.
3. Black Scientologists
Accompanied by Burress and two other Black actors, Andre sets up shop in a city square to proclaim his and his compadres’ conspiracy theory that L. Ron Hubbard, founder of the Scientology movement, was actually Black, and his real name was L. Ron Hoyabembe. The four men chant that they want ten million years of Scientology’s galactic ruler Xenu, Andre plays around with the megaphone shouting that it “sounds like a Diplo song,” the four of them disagree on some of their own (assumedly improv’d) talking points, and one of the actors says that Battlefield Earth should’ve been a Tyler Perry movie.
But the ultimate climax of this absurdly genius hodgepodge of Scientology mockery is when a white man with his own evangelizing agenda walks by and shouts that he’s Jesus, and Andre implores him to prove it. This is followed by one of the other actors taking it a step further: asking the man to poop in front of them and turn his poop into wine. The four of them then proceed to finish off the bit by chanting in glorious unison, “Turn that poop into wine!” That’s real performance art, babes.
2. Morpheus Burress
Hannibal Burress surprises by closing out as the show’s musical guest in a Season 3 episode, in which he dresses up as the character Morpheus from The Matrix. He then starts rapping (one has to assume freestyle) with made-up words that rhyme with “Morpheus,” eventually moving to words that kinda rhyme with Morpheus, like walruses, porridges, orifices, corpseses (not a real word), and Worcestershire sauce.
He finishes his rap first by saying “Seashells by the seashore-pheus,” then clambering into a random coffin, grabbing a bottle of liquor, and rapping, “Morpheus drinking a forty in a death basket.” He then accidentally hits himself in the face with the liquor bottle. The image of Burress in the big black leather duster, purple suit, tiny black shades, rapping fake “-orpheus” words has to be one of the show’s most enduring and most absurd visuals.
1. Buying a car
For this “on the street” prank, Andre infiltrates an unsuspecting car dealership posing as a giant man in a giant trench coat, clearly on the shoulders of a second man underneath him inside the coat. Andre towers towards the dealership in his huge coat and little fedora with a feather in it, serenely proclaiming — to no one in particular — his intent to purchase a car. He enters the dealership and asks for the owner, Harry. Instead of freaking out about a man clearly on the shoulders of another man under a giant coat, the owner instead calmly states that he “doesn’t trust anybody like that” and “doesn’t trust something like that.” Andre asks him if he sells any “friendly cars” or cars that talk, and Harry just keeps insisting upon Andre opening up his coat so he can see what’s inside. “You wanna see my genitals, that’s not ok,” Andre replies to the request.
The entire time, this car owner miraculously maintains his cool, while bizarrely pushing his request for Andre to open the button of his coat and repeating that he doesn’t trust Andre. The bit ends with a poorly-made graphic of Harry’s face, Andre in the giant coat, with the words “Harry’s Car Place” across the top and the quote “I don’t trust like that” underneath, which has made its way around the internet countless times as a meme. To me, this is genuinely the funniest “on the street” bit ever done on The Eric Andre Show, in which the innocent bystander’s reaction ends up matching Andre’s prank to glorious results. Also, giant Eric Andre in a giant coat, asking a car owner if he has any Skittles, is really fucking funny.