Wild abandon, with laughter

Wild+abandon%2C+with+laughter

“I hope I’m not going to get sprayed with any substances,” said a young man at the end of the row, one among many in the sold-out, conspicuously millennial crowd at the Englert’s Eric André standup show on the evening of Oct. 8.
It seemed, from the countless whispered wonderings, that no one knew what to expect of André’s imminent appearance. Would it be a live version of his manically iconic late-night talk-show satire, “The Eric André Show”? Or some unforeseen, equally offensive beast?

When he finally took the stage at 8 p.m. — clad in jeans and crimson sneakers blinding even from the top row — predictions became extraneous details, and the roaring crowd seemed only concerned with the presence of their idol.

“I’m going to tell jokes that I wrote in 2009,” André said with little preamble, mic in hand. “So what about that movie *Precious*?”

The evening saw André cover topics such as Anthony Bourdain’s bowel movements, Cuban souvenirs, and the anarcho-pop one-hit-wonder Chumbawamba. The Englert’s stage was sparsely populated by just two stools and a mic stand, but André’s presence — his face straining and slick with sweat, his hair wild — exuded such energy that the stage felt crowded as he barreled through his routine unconcerned with whether the audience kept up with his irreverent non sequiturs.

Between impressions — whose targets ranged in kind from Southern preachers to Foghorn Leghorn — and adages such as, “If life gives you gators, make gatorade,” André reveled in his interactions with the audience.

“So how bad is getting caught with weed here,” he asked. “A misdemeanor?”

Someone yells out, “a DUI,” to which André replies, “Well that doesn’t make sense.” Another voice screams, simply, “North Korea.”

The routine dabbled in such lengthy tangents that the crowd had to wonder whether André had built in time for improvisation or simply scrapped his prepared jokes altogether to instead discuss the UI’s mascot — “What are you, the butt birds?” As André indulged in the tangents, the crowd became more and more eager to join in, hurling increasingly off-beat suggestions at the stage with deteriorating coherence.

“My dad’s gay,” a man screamed from the balcony.

With quick-triggered speed André replied, “He is? Prove it by jumping off the balcony.”

Contrary to what some might’ve expected, however, mentions of “The Eric André Show” itself were sparse.

In a rare second of silence — André was allowing himself a drink of water — a voice called out, “Bird Up,” the name of a segment of his regular program lovingly nicknamed “The Worst Show on Television.”

“Bird Up’s dead,” André said with glee. “We killed it last season. It’s all about Snail Down.”

Then it was back to anecdotes — most of which would not pass the *Daily Iowan* censors — that proved this was not the show for the easily offended.

After leaving with a brisk, “That’s it, f**k you guys,” André came back on stage for an encore.

“I’m going to tell one joke, then I’m going to do something special,” he said.

After offering the crowd an onslaught of imagined band names — Dr. MDMA, M.D., Fake Sinatra Platonic Felatio — he picked a volunteer and demanded he freestyle on stage over André’s beatboxing.

As the flannel-clad man sputtered, “You’re a crowd, crowd, I’m here, wow,” André slid his pants — and underwear — to his ankles. With André’s lower torso bare, and his genitals tucked between his legs, the crowd erupted in cheers. Mouth agape, André humped the volunteer with abandon before treating the crowd to a bow, his naked rear facing outward.

 

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