Legalize Everything

Director: Eric Notarnicola
Cast: Eric André
Streaming Platform: Netflix

Eric Andre’s heart is in the right place; he wants to abolish the war on drugs, all drugs. Even cocaine. (He notes the disproportionate incarceration of black people) The “serotonin machine gun”, as he calls them must be normalized; there is a difference between drug use and drug abuse. It’s the sort of radical posturing that gets ideologues charged up- the Kerouac kind, who want to abolish police and state. And he has his following; the audience for this show takes in every joke, the laughter track seems live-recorded and not imposed in post-production. But I found most of the show not just unfunny, but uninspired.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””] As a comedian, if you only seek humour in the guise of a gasp, it is inevitable that the antics tire, and they do, quite quickly here.[/perfectpullquote]

 

His progressive agenda comes in the sandpaper packaging of his crude jokes, that didn’t land for me, and not because I am a prude, but because some things, like motorboating genetically modified chickens with huge breasts, just isn’t funny. It’s un-funny not because I primarily found it disgusting, which I did and that’s probably the point, but because I found it pointless. I understand that Andre is trying to push the boundary between what is and isn’t allowed  (the show is bookended by Andre’s glory-hole, his butt crack makes a special appearance as he jumps into the lap of one his front row audience members), but in the delirium of delivering shock, he might have forgotten that some things don’t need to be talked about, not because a moral police has said so, but because there’s not much to say about it. When he began his show with. “Did you ever sprinkle cocaine on your little brother’s toothbrush?” and does a physical gag skit accompanying it, I failed to see not just the humour but the subversion. 

See, if you want to make jokes about eating ass, and its questionable aftertaste, the humour should not be entirely in the shock value of discussing it openly, but in your spin on the act itself. As a comedian, if you only seek humour in the guise of a gasp, it is inevitable that the antics tire, and they do, quite quickly here. The first half-hour is almost painful, the laughter feels like a cult celebrating their leader who occasionally shrieks and bares his belly to the audience. It’s a physical comedy act, and Andre’s comfort with himself is indeed endearing, but only in parts. 

It is however, towards the end, when he disavows his shrieks, and histrionics for something more muted, and conversational, like FaceTiming the mother of a random audience member, there was a semblance of charm; that he can hold a conversation, and insert outrageous statements with a straight face, with ease. He speaks about his half-black half-jewish upbringing only in the last twenty minutes of the show, humanizing himself after playing court jester. Performance in comedy is tricky, you don’t want to seem constructed, but you also don’t want to seem entirely yourself. Here, there was an obvious progression from cultish craze to a more comedic, less outrageous posturing, even as he got an old couple to come on stage and rip their clothes off while making love. A sense of calm might have come over him.  But then, he pulled his pants down, his privates tucked between his legs. Okay, Eric Andre. You got my attention. Now what?

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