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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Eric Andre returns to his absurdist roots in new comedy special Legalize Everything

Illustration for article titled Eric Andre returns to his absurdist roots in new comedy special iLegalize Everything/i
Photo: Brian Roedel (Netflix)
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Since The Eric Andre Show went on hiatus after its fourth season in 2016, creator, host, and co-writer Eric Andre’s appetite for organized confusion and chaos has been curbed. Voice-over roles as Azizi in the live-action remake of The Lion King, and Luci and Pendergast in the animated Netflix sitcom Disenchantment have kept the checks rolling in while padding his résumé. However, the creative confines of those gigs have kept him from testing the breadth of his absurdity in quite some time, giving fans reason to speculate on whether his willingness to dabble in extremes for the sake of comedy has been tempered. While awaiting the fifth season of The Eric Andre Show—set to premiere later this year—fans can catch the anarchistic rabble-rouser fully immersed in his comfort zone in his new stand-up comedy special, Legalize Everything, where he levels out his signature raunch and shock value with profound insights.

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Having made his bones in the world of sketch comedy, Andre’s return to his roots as a comedian in Legalize Everything finds him leaning on his strengths. In the opening, filmed on the streets of New Orleans and reminiscent of Andre’s vox pop segments from The Eric Andre Show, he impersonates a cop while distributing drugs and paraphernalia to unsuspecting residents and tourists. This impromptu skit, along with Andre’s entrance to NOLA bounce legend Big Freedia’s “3rd Ward Bounce,” creates the momentum for an epic opening bit, which he capitalizes on by delving into one of the overarching themes of Legalize Everything: drug use. While placing children and infants as the central characters in jokes about hallucinogens and narcotics may make one pause, the personal experiences he shares brings a realism to the material that’s palatable beyond its sheer humor.

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Andre is known for his ample blue material, but with the comedian now 37 years old, some of his musings border on juvenile, if not admonishable at times. In Legalize Everything, jokes about flatulence, which he incorporates incessantly, come across as amateurish. And in the age of the #MeToo movement, alluding in lighthearted fashion to transgressions committed by comedians Bill Cosby and Louis CK may not garner the most favorable reaction. However, these lowlights are few, as Andre keeps the audience on their toes with his ability to traverse from one topic to another. This allows him to go from viewing porn through a feminist lens (“I watch reverse-role bukakke, where six to ten women squirt on an Asian businessman’s face. I’m the most progressive motherfucker on Pornhub, capisce?”) to unpacking the irony of reggae being used as the theme song to a television show in which Black people are brutalized and detained.

Legalize Everything includes Andre’s thoughts on the war on drugs (“It’s done absolutely zero to curb drug addiction. It just allows cops to lock up Black kids five times as much as they do white kids”); the criminal justice system, which he believes to have been “invented by rich, white, Christian, heterosexual businessmen”; and the sex industry. The highlights of the special are a byproduct of its host’s camaraderie with the audience, which he draws from throughout the evening. From beckoning one audience member’s parents onstage to create soft-core porn to video-chatting with another’s mother for the whole crowd to see, Andre unites the crowd, bringing them in on his hijinks and shenanigans while ramping up the LPMs in one fell swoop. Although he briefly touches on his background as a biracial Jewish man multiple instances, these mentions are few and far between, leaving much to be desired, in terms of revelations about what makes him tick beyond the humor.

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This gripe aside, Legalize Everything is still a worthwhile watch, as Andre gives the people exactly what they want—nonsensical, slapstick humor that comes with a dash of thought-provoking analysis on the construct of America and its moving parts. Every bit, joke, or gag isn’t a home run on its own, but Legalize Everything is a praiseworthy effort that finds Andre holding court with the guile of a seasoned jester.

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