It’s been four long, long years since the last season of “The Eric Andre Show” premiered, but Adult Swim’s cult hit parody of late night talk shows has weathered the passage of time almost completely unscathed. Sure, the show’s fifth season, which premiered at midnight on Sunday, certainly looks different — the new stage is big and garishly bright while Andre shaved his head and put on 20 pounds — but Andre’s comedic edge and knack for horrifying his celebrity guests hasn’t dulled in the slightest.
Even after fifty episodes (and a few specials), there’s no indication that Andre is running short on ideas on how to confuse, shock, and otherwise unsettle everyone he crosses paths with, be they celebrity guests or hapless New Yorkers during the show’s man on the street segments. Attempting to describe any of the show’s bits in meaningful detail is an exercise in futility and doesn’t do the comedy justice. It’s performance art that needs to be seen to be believed, but for the uninitiated: Imagine “Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis” taken to an illogical extreme and with more physical humor, or imagine if any of the popular late night talk show hosts hated their job and went live in the middle of a week-long amphetamine binge.
As with prior seasons the frequently grotesque and disturbing pranks won’t be to everyone’s liking. Andre brings a shitting rat onto a New York subway and also shits into his coffee cup during the same interview where a Jackson Pollock impersonator named Jackson Polyps barges in to…You get the idea. Granted, fans wouldn’t have it any other way and there are more than a handful of man on the street pranks and interview bits that will shock even the most veteran of viewers.
Season 5’s man on the street pranks are among series’ best; Andre has terrorized New York passerby in all manner of ways over the last decade, but the aforementioned subway rat bit, as well as a bike trick and construction job gone wrong, easily deserve inclusion in the highlight reels of the show’s segments that will inevitably come in the weeks ahead. Longtime fans will also get a kick out of the show’s recurring bits from prior seasons that return in Season 5; there’s talk of a Sprite sponsorship, and George Clooney and the naked PA are back, as is the unseen guy who screams “YEAH!” None of that will make any sense for those who have never watched, but the point is that the jokes are funny, even for those who have never watched the show before.
Not all of the celebrity interviews reach that high mark, but even the season’s tamer ones — Andre’s antics while interviewing a visibly terrified Judy Greer in Episode 1 are amusing, but guests’ speechless horror has been considerably funnier in prior segments — score plenty of laughs. However, that’s not to say there aren’t definite interview highlights: the Episode 3 interview with Omarion, full of nudity, bizarre interruptions, and random acts of violence, is genuinely hysterical and will likely be remembered as one of the season’s standout moments.
As Adult Swim only provided screeners for the first and third installments of the 10-episode season it’s impossible to say how Season 5 in its entirety will compare to the show’s prior installments. That said, given the quality of the material provided to critics and the remarkable consistency of the series’ older seasons, all signs suggest that the long wait for Season 5 was absolutely worth it. This is exactly what fans have been hoping for.
“The Eric Andre Show” releases new episodes every Sunday at midnight on Adult Swim.