“I have nothing prepared, man. What should I do?”
The Eric Andre Show is one of Adult Swim’s few remaining legacy programs and its only live-action series currently in production. The nightmare sketch and variety show has been around for over a decade and has featured a wide range of guests that includes Seth Rogen, Dermot Mulroney, Jon Hamm, and Ryan Phillipe.
Andre’s initial plan was to end the series after its fifth season, but he continues to return for more chaos and the show’s most recent year has contained some of the series’ best and most unhinged material. Filmed at New York City’s Terminal 5, Eric Andre Live Near Broadway is an “extra” installment that translates Andre’s exaggerated style of comedy to a live audience setting. The special has its share of laughs and trademark Eric Andre Show insanity, but it lacks the signature ranch recipe that makes the ongoing show such a success.
Eric Andre Live Near Broadway is not the show’s yet-to-be-confirmed seventh season, but it’s a lo-fi version of a standard episode that does a good enough job at capturing the series’ energy. There’s the usual desk destruction, monologue, wild characters, and interview segments (through a mix of both actual celebrities and audience members). There’s an endearing DIY element to this special that takes Andre back to his scrappier roots. Eric Andre Live Near Broadway also doesn’t waste its fully packed audience. Andre has his fans hold the cue cards for his monologue, drenches them with comedy, and let them into the inner workings of his performance.
However, there’s also an extended bit where one male audience member is tied to a wooden pillory while Andre drops his own pants, simulates sex with him, and proceeds to create the illusion that he’s brought him to orgasm. It’s a routine that everyone seems on board with, including the random audience member who doesn’t know what they’ve gotten themselves into, but it’s easy to imagine the same “comedy” falling flat and offending with a different volunteer and audience. This special wisely leans into the crowd work aspect to make this a properly intimate and interactive experience, but this often comes at the expense of the more polished comedy that makes a regular episode of the series work.
The standard Eric Andre Show episode meticulously edits and refines hours of content into its strongest, bare bones package. Eric Andre Live Near Broadway lacks this luxury and its live, on-the-fly energy becomes the special’s greatest asset, but also its biggest weakness. It seems like there’s ultimately still some material that gets excised from the full performance and that this special does apply some discerning taste over what the televised audience gets to see. The special’s rough around the edges atmosphere is intentional, but that doesn’t excuse its weaker, cruder moments. In the end, there’s still a rushed, lacking feeling when Eric Andre Live Near Broadway concludes.
Eric Andre Live Near Broadway features classic Eric Andre Show characters like The Fridge Keeper, Reese Witherspoon, and Kraft Punk. Special guest Billy Porter also truly humbles himself by chugging various items. Only a handful of bits are turned to throughout the special, but oddly enough a “Calculus Cam” gag becomes one of the stronger laughs. There’s also a wild stunt that closes out the show that once again capitalizes on the special’s live audience and the spontaneity of such a setting.
This special is very much a mixed bag, but what Eric Andre Live Near Broadway does best is truly highlight the series’ rabid fandom and why it’s endured for so long. The special is full of footage where ranch-guzzling, glue-chugging, Bird Up-screaming sycophants cherish this event. The frequent shots of the audience’s frenzied reactions to Andre’s mayhem could have been cumbersome, but they actually complement the special’s comedy. Andre thrives on the live audience’s energy and it does provide a little extra zest to the standard Eric Andre Show experience.
Eric Andre Live Near Broadway also contains brief clips from Andre’s global tour where international fans also partake in signature Eric Andre Show silliness. These moments are few and far between, but the special might have benefitted from more of this approach. Even a special that’s cut together from multiple shows from across the tour, rather than just focusing on the New York City edition, could have further demonstrated Andre’s global appeal and how his brand has affected audiences across the world, albeit in different ways. If nothing else, a return of Hannibal Buress would have been nice, juiced up this anemic special, and better taken advantage of the NYC setting.
Eric Andre Live Near Broadway is still a satisfying extra dose of the series that should get audiences excited for a hypothetical season seven. This special doesn’t feel nearly as disposable as it could, but it’s also not mandatory viewing and not much will be lost by missing this. It’s proof that Andre’s energy and enthusiasm for this production is still very much alive. However, there’s still a lot more that could be done here. The special only clocks in at 22 minutes, which is double the length of a standard 11-minute episode, but still feels shorter than how long a “special” should run. Brevity is often The Eric Andre Show’s secret weapon, which this special seems to understand, but it’s also understandable if some fans are left disappointed after waiting half-a-year since season six’s conclusion.
Nevertheless, Eric Andre Live Near Broadway tops the show’s previous special, Eric Andre Does Paris, yet falls short of its other one-off experiments like The Eric Andre New Year’s Eve Spooktacular or KRFT Punk’s Political Party. It’s at least a relief that this isn’t the series’ weakest effort and that there’s an infectious energy that carries through it all. The whole point of this special is that it’s “live” and in front of an audience, but it might have helped to intercut some pre-taped stunts into the mix. Andre could have even walked out of the theater and done some live man-on-the-street segments so that some of that confused spectator spirit is still included in some capacity.
Eric Andre Live Near Broadway is fairly run of the mill Andre antics that shouldn’t surprise any long-time fans. It’s an entertaining enough special that might draw in some new audiences, but they’re still likely to gain more from a regular episode of the series. A seasoned Eric Andre Show fan can look past some of the special’s weaker concessions. However, Eric Andre Live Near Broadway puts some of the show’s shakier elements front and center. It’s a broad, occasionally unflattering distillation of what The Eric Andre Show has to offer. Eric Andre Live Near Broadway succeeds as a playful, bonus dose of hilarity that tides over fans between seasons, but it makes for a poor swan song to go out on if this happens to be the series’ end.
Eric Andre Live Near Broadway premieres Jan. 18 at midnight on Adult Swim, with streaming available the next day on Max.
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