Every joke contains truth


Photo by Lindsey Thomas

Alex Hanks

Eric Andre, best known as the host of late-night talk show “The Eric Andre Show” and for his role as Azizi in the 2019 Lion King remake, made a stop at the Tobin Center in San Antonio last Friday, Oct. 11, to perform standup on his “Legalize Everything” Tour. The Florida native and first-generation American riled up the crowd and proved why he is a one-of-a-kind comedian.

It is instinctual for the general public to categorize comedians into certain subcategories of their field. For example, comedians like Bo Burnham and George Carlin, along with many other comedic icons, are known for their quick wit and ability to execute jokes at delegated times in an effort to ensure they get a laugh from the crowd every time. However, Eric Andre has built his platform off of the exact opposite: ensuing chaos at times the audience is not expecting it and putting very little stress on the actual premise of his joke-telling, somehow managing to utilize this strategy perfectly.

The Eric Andre Show solidified his influence in the comedy industry due to his outlandish, absurd and idiosyncratic style. Andre redefines how audiences perceive comedy. In his show, Andre invited guests like Dennis Rodman, Jack Black and Chance the Rapper in an effort to see how much he could mess with them. The guests come onto the set with the belief that they will be on a show like Jimmy Fallon or Jimmy Kimmel, and when Andre notices their discomfort, he capitalizes on it with chaotic bits. In one interview with Jack Black, Andre attaches a lie detector test to Black mid-conversation and proceeds to shock him regardless of whether or not he was telling the truth.

This style of comedy was seen in his stand-up. He fruitfully accomplished the goal of shocking the crowd in one bit by making fans in the crowd drink entire bottles of ranch dressing. Bits like the ranch drinking contest create a sense of shock, eventually leading to an eruption of laughter. The art of discomfort is evident when Andre vocalizes on more touchy topics like police brutality, sex workers’ liberation and the political divide in the United States.

The stand-up performance served as a testament to the balance comedians should have between offensive statements and socially-driven premises in jokes. The style of comedy Andre demonstrates makes you laugh as you say to yourself, “Wow, that’s a serious issue our country is facing.” In the middle of the anarchy and raunchy interactions with the crowd, the Florida native reminds audiences of the depth and complexity of the problems the United States is facing today.