Eric Andre: A True Post-Postmodern Man
by Matthew Tyler Boyer
The quality or state of being ridiculous or wildly unreasonable.
Eric Andre hosts a parody talk show aptly named “The Eric Andre Show.” For four seasons it has been on Adult Swim.
The object of the show, it seems to me, is to make the guests and people on New York City streets, uncomfortable. Whether Andre is chugging a bottle of ranch dressing on a sidewalk or kicking over his desk to reveal a smaller desk with two little people preforming a mock interview, Andre embodies absurdity.
Postmodernism, more so the literary term, was coined in 1942 and was broadly described a piece of art that was full of irony, or a piece that broke the fourth wall and interacted with the audience. Postmodernism was a break away from modernism and focused on reality.
Prominent writers from the postmodern era include: Flannery O’Connor, Kurt Vonnegut, Donald Barthelme, Kathy Acker, Hunter S. Thompson, and David Foster Wallace. These writers all used the styles from their era to get to the questions of life and what is real, mostly using humor, and what they would refer to as absurdity.
Writers from the postmodern era have often been described as absurd for their subject matter and writing style. This era of absurdity is the first half of the dictionary definition: the quality or state of being ridiculous.
Andre is the second half of the definition: wildly unreasonable.
“The Eric Andre Show” is a parody of the status quo talk shows from the late ‘50s. Instead of the hour of irony and talk of current events, Andre’s show lasts only fifteen minutes. The typical layout for an episode of consists of an opening bit where Andre destroys his set, followed by a monologue, two short interviews, and a couple of street skits.
Andre, unlike postmodern writers, finds his humor in the nihilism, or the lack of context and sense- making. The joke is that there is no joke. Things are happening because they are. There is no punch line or ironic twist, unless, of course, Andre is mocking those who came before him.
Andre is post-postmodern. His show, which has gained popularity over the last seven years, takes unsuspecting interviewees who are used to the old form of ironic talk shows and throws terrible interviewing conditions at them. Although the viewer only sees a few seconds of each interview, Andre interviews people for up to an hour and a half in an old air-condition-less TV studio. This brings the worst out of his guests and gets to the root of what Andre wants: to kill irony and the glam of Hollywood by showing people in the most absurd situations.
In a world where commercials and shitty TV shows continue to play with the bygone styles, Eric Andre is a true post-postmodern man. His show gets to the point of life without getting to the point of anything. There is no punchline, only laughs.
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