Their latest project finds them not just venturing into television but breaking it down as well (sometimes literally). "The Eric Andre Show," currently airing on Adult Swim on Sundays at 12:30am, is technically a talk show with interviews and planned bits. But host Eric Andre and his sidekick Hannibal Buress oversee what's more a scene of surreal, apocalyptic strangeness taking place on some alternate reality public access channel in which Savion Glover shows up to tap dance with a chicken taped to his face and Andre rushes at his band in order to beat-up the drummer while the other members play on.
As Barchilon and Sakurai explain, the show was conceived of as "a deconstruction of the late-night talk show format. We’re taking all the classic late-night talk show elements (opening monologue, celebrity guests, desk pieces, man-on-the-street segments) and coming at them with a psychotic, low-budget public access mentality." We asked them to share their thoughts on the tropes they're taking on and what led them to create what the New York Times has dubbed "the anti-talk show."
The late-night talk show is an interesting medium to work with because the format is SO traditional. It’s driven by conventions that haven’t changed in years and years, pioneered by Johnny Carson and continued -- with varying degrees of irony -- up to today. We all grew up watching David Letterman and Conan O'Brien, but also shows like "Space Ghost" and "The Tom Green Show." Actually, if you look back at '80s Letterman, he was consistently doing transgressive and strange bits and actively making fun of the medium from within, so we naturally took a lot of inspiration from that energy. To us, late night comedy and the act of making fun of that genre go hand in hand.
No matter how extreme the absurdity or randomness gets, we come at each scene with the intention of clarifying and heightening the risks. We put a lot of energy into fostering a sense of danger, a quality that we feel is especially critical to much of the humor of the show. When Eric destroys the set at the top of every episode, he’s truly using his body to the point of pain and exhaustion, and we wanted the audience to feel that sense of danger. For that reason you’ll rarely see a cut on the action of a stunt. When a guest reaches a place where it seems like they might walk out of an interview, we want to show the visceral tension and discomfort that leads to that moment. We were heavily inspired by "Da Ali G Show" and "Jackass," as that kind of danger is something we find amazingly funny in the banal setting of our simple late night talk show.
It was incredibly satisfying when our collaborators -- from production design to wardrobe and casting -- to fully let go of prejudices against things that would ordinarily be considered "bad" or "ugly." Suddenly all this junk started flowing into the studio, which made the character work of directing so much easier. A lot of credit is due to our original production designer, Ana Cambre, who helped galvanize some of the most iconic elements of the show.
To shoot this show in character also required an authentically shitty look. The '70s era TV studio cameras we used helped lock in the aesthetic of our world perhaps more than anything. But we took it a step further and encouraged our camera operators to occasionally let the framing drift or subtly bungle the focus. Our DP Aaron Kovalchik did a great job of creating a very dark and unevenly lit talk show set.
When we created the initial presentation in an abandoned bodega in Bushwick three years ago, the idea of getting picked up by Adult Swim and working with Tim & Eric’s company Abso Lutely Productions to produce a full season of the series was beyond a pipe dream. We just wanted to make something funny and crazy and uncompromisingly weird.