Eric André will play a prank, even if the world collapses

A disembodied hand appears onscreen holding a makeup sponge, and it begins dabbing Eric André’s face as he prepares for our interview on Google Hangouts. He compares it to the hand in The Addams Family movies, only this one is actually attached to a person. He doesn’t flinch as the hand prepares the comedian’s camera for what he immediately learns is just a video adult chat that won’t be posted anywhere online.

Then his father calls. He responds, putting his father on speakerphone and informing him that he’s in the middle of an interview. Hearing this, Papa Andre hangs up without saying goodbye – and his son chuckles. “Peace man.”

Remembering that he doesn’t need to be in front of the camera, the comedian and actor decides to make himself comfortable, taking his laptop – and in fact, me – on an impromptu visit to his house. house while moving, so he can do the interview. Like a true millennial, there are plants everywhere. “Oh yeah, I’m a bit of a plant,” he said. He’s been on the press since 3:30 a.m. and had the energy of someone going wild – something anyone who knows about Andre’s work on the beautifully demented sketch series. Eric André Display and his special comedy Eric André: legalize everything might assume is a base level for a beloved Chaos Agent such as him.

In Bad trip, we are treated to another ride in the messy Ferris wheel that is André’s brilliant and bizarre mind. Although it technically meets all the requirements to be a movie, the caller movie feels a forehead a little too high. It’s more of a long-running prank show with a story arc that seems to want viewers to mess up their couches so they don’t get flustered. But to explain the plot, Chris (Andre) and his best friend Bud (Lil Rel Howery) embark on a road trip from Florida to New York so Chris can declare his love for his high school crush, Maria (Michaela Conlin). .

In the long tradition of road trip films like Mad Max: Fury Road and crossroads, getting from point A to point B is not as easy as it might seem: on the one hand, Bud’s sister, a recent prison escapee named Trina (a perfect Tiffany Haddish), is in pursuit of the couple, who stole his car – a pink Vic Pepto Bismol crown adorned with a window-sized sticker that reads “Bad Bitch” – for their adventure. It’s not the most low-key ride, which becomes particularly problematic as Bud and Chris get into trouble at various stops along the way. The action of the story takes place before civilians unaware that they are being filmed for a movie, meaning their reactions to various batshit gags are captured by hidden cameras and are some of the best laughs but also heartwarming. aww ‘s in the movie.

It’s not unfair to call Bad trip completely stupid, because that’s the point – and the source of his genius. At a time like this, watching Chris have a face full of gorilla sperm in front of a group of horrified women at the zoo, or spitting out barf like a fire hydrant in a honky tonk bar, is a great switch for your brain. . Andre himself loves road trips and the shenanigans they cause – and he’s been kind enough to create a road trip playlist for Noisey, which is linked below.

It is difficult to avoid the idea that pranks like those in Bad trip may be nearly impossible to achieve in a post-COVID world, which makes André’s specific brand of comedy – which relies so much on human interaction and, well, weird shit people – a more difficult proposition for the future. It must be hard for someone with their energy.

“It was depressing,” André said. “I mean, you can go for a walk or a bike ride; I’ll do this sometimes, but it’s been depressing. I am gregarious. Like a vampire, I feed off the energy of other human beings.

In fact, our original plan for the interview was to make our own short trip between the VICE offices in Williamsburg and the Times Square Olive Garden, with a few stops in between. The thought of maybe Lady and the Tramp-ing Unlimited Breadsticks with Eric Andre had filled me with excitement for weeks last year – but, you know, a global pandemic. As he said on Hangout, a year after that Olive Garden road trip was supposed to happen, “So many things, so many dreams, so many plans, just imploded. What can we do?”

Yet there is one question that hangs over our discussion and it is one I must ask: if he is afraid of never pranking again – at least, not in the same way. “I think we’re going to get back to some kind of normalcy,” he replies. “I think there’s going to be a new world; people will probably wear masks more often. I think, in a weird way, it’s kind of an auto-reset button for the company. It gave us a rhythm. for all to think about – kind of a forced existential crisis. But no, I’m not too worried. In fact, I can’t wait to see things turn around, and I have faith that I can play pranks again.

For his part, Andre says that “resetting” has involved, at various times, “a lot of drinking, a little camping, a little writing, some catching up on early serialized dramas that I never had. opportunity to watch. ” When the coronavirus lockdown hit in March last year, he had just completed the fifth season of his adult swimming The Eric André Show, and Bad trip was already wrapped and modified. Back then, he “couldn’t wait to get back to real life,” but real life has changed dramatically for everyone.

So just like the rest of us plebs, André has been deeply in The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, The Wire, and Game of thrones. “I’m just forcing myself through it all,” he says. “It’s force-feeding: I’m fat-ing the serialized dramas in my throat. My liver is going to taste delicious Sopranos skull.”

Bad trip is a new entry in the small but mighty canon of narrative prank movies starting with the letter B (think: Borat, Bruno, and Bad grandfather) – but he’s also the first to do so with an all-black, POC-led cast, a milestone that André is excited about. After the success of Bad grandfather in 2013, which featured Johnny Knoxville as an elderly man on a road trip with his grandson, Andre’s agent encouraged him to meet Donkey and Bad grandfather co-creator and director Jeff Tremaine to see if they could replicate the magic with André. With Tremaine’s guidance, Andre and his team offered a bunch of wild pitches and “crazy batshit stories that don’t make sense” until they found a narrative thread. “There were so many different crappy incarnations before we got to the one that worked,” Andre said.

To land on a story that worked for their pranks, Andre, director Kitao Sakurai, and a writer’s assistant took a nine-day road trip from Los Angeles to New York City, which included stops at a Circus show. of the Sun in Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon and Colorado, where a planned camping trip was canceled by grizzly bears coming out of hibernation and an acid trip. The crew also took inspiration from burlesque road trip comedies from the 90s. Tommy boy and Stupid and even more stupid, in addition to the romantic comedies of Meg Ryan.

“We watched a lot of Meg Ryan movies like When Harry meets Sally and stuff like that, ”he says,“ because boyfriend stories are basically a love affair between two friends. ”

Partly to keep the main characters likable, says André, Bad trip stays pretty healthy, never placing targets in positions where they could embarrass themselves or be ridiculed. Considering that the targets are mostly black, this is comforting; it’s really no fun watching people make themselves cruelly look like fools, unless that person is Rudy Giuliani. Of course, there are a few crass pranks that turn into questionable territory, like when Bud and Chris get their penises caught in a finger trap and rush into a Chinese restaurant, crash into tables and ask for help. . But overall the goal was to make sure everyone had a good time.

“Our prank had to be nice, so we never knock,” André said. “We never joke on anyone. We are actually showing the humanity of people and showing the nature of the good samaritan in a lot of people that we are playing pranks on.

In one scene, following an unfortunate accident with Bad Bitch’s pink mobile, one of the non-actor viewers being joked in a scene steps in when Bud and Chris are arguing. “He was really invested in keeping our friendship going,” André said. “It’s exciting to make a farce film without it being cynical.”

This level of care makes Bad trip worth a visit, even if the final destination is not the Times Square Olive Garden.

Bad trip releases March 26.

***

There are a few essentials to any road trip: a plethora of snacks, toilet paper if someone needs a roadside pee, and, of course, a sick playlist. In honor of his new film Bad tripEric André has graciously created a playlist for Noisey, if a drive across the country – or just to an Italian chain restaurant in a somewhat remote location – is in your future.

When it comes to creating a great playlist, André pointed out that the vibe and genres really depend on the final destination. “If it’s all cross-country, like [an] Road trip from Los Angeles to New York, I think more country western, ”he said. “But if you’re on your way to Bonnaroo or Coachella, and want to get pumped up with your friends, you want Girl Talk or Big Freedia.”

For this one, André imagined that his final destination would be El Paso, Texas (although his second idea was “the Olive Garden in the sky”). It meant creating a heavy country playlist that turned to rap, then cumbias. i just listened to a lot of cumbia playlists on spotify, ”he says.

The resulting playlist, which Andre cleverly titled “Bad Trip Playlist” and which you can listen to below, includes Ennio Morricone, Glen Campbell and “Magnolia” from Playboi Carti – not once, but 10 times over. after. (Finally Andre said, “I would kind of start to get tired of the country western, then I would just listen to Playboi Carti” Magnolia “over and over again.”) Get comfortable in your pink Crown Vic, prepare the snacks and enjoy the ride with the soundtrack of one of the strangest and brightest minds in comedy.

1. “Galveston” by Glen Campbell
2. “Some Velvet Morning” by Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood
3. “The Strong” by Ennio Morricone, for the soundtrack of The good the bad and the ugly.
4. “Blue eyes cry in the rain” by Willie Nelson
5. “Jackson” by Johnny Cash and June Carter
6. “Woke Up Laughing” by Robert Palmer
7. ‘Magnolia’ by Playboi Carti (10 times in a row, but, you know, player’s pick on that.)
8. “Corazón Enamorado” by Super Grupo Colombia
9. “Penguin” by Okay Temiz
10. “Cumbia con Jazz” by Grupo Jejeje

Alex Zaragoz is a senior writer at VICE.

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