Eric Andre Live at First Avenue: Missing the Mark on Madness

When I saw the announcement that the man behind the self-proclaimed Worst Show on Television was doing a live tour, I had mixed feelings, similar to first trying a sushi burrito. While two things can be wonderful on their own (like sushi and burritos or Eric Andre and a live, mostly stage-bound format), the question begs whether combination equals compromise, or if one can truly have the best of both worlds. Though the handheld maki logs have won me over, Andre’s erratic, fearless, and at times self-destructive comedy styling might better suit the screen than the stage.

Courtesy of First Avenue

Courtesy of First Avenue

Much of what gives “The Eric Andre Show “its characteristically psychedelic feel is absent from its live incarnation. The skillful yet aesthetically low-budget editing that happens in post-production and the unpredictability of public spaces and passers-by who aren’t in on the joke are rich and ample fodder for material, as are the hours spent tormenting celebrity guests that are cut down to choice moments. With fewer resources, greater time constraints, and the fact that every ticket holder of the sold-out show has high expectations of chaos, Andre is more limited in his freedom to exploit confusion and discomfort, and the difference shows.

The performance kicked off on a light, satirical note as a Weird Al understudy in a red Evel Knievel-esque jumpsuit dubbed Major Entertainer belted two tongue-in-cheek meta-ballads about being the opening act and having t-shirts for sale at the merch table. Following that, LA-based comic Byron Bowers had a short but effective stand-up set with jokes touching on the shame of dying from being hit by a Fiat––his proposed solution: call the police so that they’d shoot him, thus turning him into a hashtag––and being squirted upon in a very competitive-sounding sexual encounter.

As a pleasant surprise, Hannibal Buress joined the Minneapolis tour stop to do a brief set of his own, though not before calling back to one of The Eric Andre Show’s most beloved sketches, the Morpheus rap. Proceeding in classic Eric Andre form, the host himself, sporting a Sideshow Bob-evoking hairstyle, rampaged on- and off-stage after pelting the crowd with lettuce, Cheetos and Super Soakers full of white fluid (presumably ranch dressing, possibly milk? Perhaps even that’s too optimistic) while yelling “The power of Christ compels you!” When it was time for a filthy, out-of-breath monologue, Andre launched into a chorus of “Words words words words words words punchline!” that quickly evolved into an EDM remix of itself.

From there, it was guest after awkward, barely-participatory guest, whom Andre grilled with such questions as “You recently tweeted ‘school shootings are cool, cool shootings are school. Tell us what you were thinking there” and “Who would you rather have sex with, your mom or your dad?” Between surprisingly tame bits like these (relatively speaking), including an obligatory ranch-chugging contest, were clips, some yet unaired, from the TV show, which only highlighted the contrast between the formats and betrayed the crucial functions of the studio team at Adult Swim.

All in all, fans of the program will enjoy its in-the-flesh counterpart, particularly if you ask the box office; the entire tour has officially sold out. However, much of what makes The Eric Andre Show stand so far out simply can’t be replicated off-camera. Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I still have ranch in my hair. Bird up!