If you aren’t familiar with it, The Eric Andre Show is a post-modern talk show starring Eric Andre and Hannibal Buress, two comedians who are either parodying a late night show or trying to escape one.
In its description of the show, Hulu describes it as the “most manic and unorthodox late night talk show ever made,” calling Andre “inept and bipolar” and Buress “his apathetic co-host.” The AV Club says “what most distinguishes The Eric Andre Show is its disintegration.” MediaLife Magazine, in a furious review, calls it “slapdash, noisy, annoying and not funny.” IndieWire, in a review of its fourth season, calls it “some beautiful chaos.”
But the review that still haunts me and informs my entire viewing of the show is one on IMDB, titled Is This Comedy? The author, diesixdie, describes the experience of The Eric Andre Show with such troubling precision and insight that it has informed my view The Eric Andre Show ever since:
“We seem to be viewing some sort inescapable closed universe containing nothing but an endless slightly nightmarish talk show. It feels like a bad dream, half remembered. It feels like there’s some unspeakable horror lurking just off-camera that the people on-stage can see, but, we can’t, and they can only stay safe by pretending to ignore it.”
This season, the show’s nightmare elements have only magnified and escalated. Zombies crawl from the floor. Crewmembers fall from the ceiling. Andre’s desk gives birth to a baby desk. Cockroaches and snakes emerge from the set, frightening the celebrities who have, for some reason, agreed to an interview.
The show still opens with scenes of Andre trying to destroy the entire set, only for it to reassemble itself the moment he collapses with exhaustion.
But there is one question that troubles me as I watch this: what’s actually happening here? What is the in-universe explanation for what we are seeing? Which is what lead me to my interpretation, another layer upon the IMDB review I cited above:
Hannibal Buress is not a victim of The Eric Andre Show universe, but its mastermind.
Here is my evidence:
Hannibal does not participate in destroying the set
The first thing leading me to this conclusion is that Hannibal always enters the set immediately after the set has reassembled itself. He arrives calm, collected, with his usual air of detached amusement.
Hannibal seems comfortable and aware of both himself and his surroundings
He often has to remind Eric of what is happening next: do the monologue, welcome the next guest, ask a question, tell a joke, and so on.
A good inspection of their differing approaches to the environment can be seen in their interview of Jimmy Kimmel:
Hannibal is free to leave, while Eric is not
Hannibal arrives after the opening and occasionally entirely leaves the set, with one recent example being when he replaced himself with a robot named Hannibal 9000 who helped interview Breaking Bad‘s Raymond Cruz.
Hannibal’s air is detached and confident while reality disintegrates around them
Eric Andre spends a lot of his time on The Eric Andre Show suffering and struggling. He often ends interviews by destroying the desk he destroyed earlier in the episode.
Hannibal Buress, meanwhile, either laughs, applauds, or makes a calm off-beat comment.
It is also notable that while Eric Andre takes his antics into some bizarre prank-style shorts, you rarely see Hannibal join him for these.
In the episode entitled The Hannibal Buress Show in Season Three, we see further suggestions that Hannibal holds all the power.
In the fifth episode of the third season of The Eric Andre Show, Eric gets into a car accident and Hannibal has to host the show.
We learn that Hannibal is wealthy with a nice house, while Eric leaves in a dingy apartment with just a mattress. We additionally see what happens when Hannibal runs the show: he destroys the set with a handgun and machine gun. Then, after telling one joke during his monologue, he receives an award for “Best Talk Show Host.”
Is Hannibal the master of the Eric Andre Show universe?
All of this—beginning with the IMDB review and informed by years of viewing Eric Andre from the “they’re trapped in a terrible universe” lens—has led me to believe that, yes, The Eric Andre Show does exist in a self-contained nightmare of a universe but that Hannibal is exempt from this nightmare, because he is in control of this world.
I realize that no one asked for this fan theory, but it’s the one I have for you. Not the one you need right now, but the one you deserve.
Now go watch an episode of The Eric Andre Show through this lens and tell me if it works as much as I think it does.
Is Eric Andre in Hell?
Update: I was challenged in the comments below as having lifted this theory from elsewhere. I haven’t seen this theory anywhere else – did not “steal” it – but I have found one that suggests Eric is in Hell and Hannibal is the Devil. You can check that theory out here.
I had never heard of this show, but now it seems I need to see it, if only to be up to speed on this new age of Lovecraftian horror.
It’s definitely worth checking out. It’s very out there so consider yourself forewarned. You might want to check out some clips on YouTube before trying to dive into an entire episode, although episodes are pretty short.
You did not come up with this theory. I’ve read this before on the Eric Andre subreddi, possibly over a year ago. Give credit where credit is due.
I’m not sure you’ll see this response, but I googled this theory and didn’t see anything. I also haven’t seen anything in the subreddit related to it. The closest I can find is a post in the FanTheories subreddit that Eric is in hell and Hannibal is the devil – I’m happy to post an update to the blog post for the sake of giving credit where credit is due.
You’re fine, I’m an avid fan of the show and haven’t seen this theory written up this concisely yet. I think the “Hell and the Devil” theory is too specific, Eric Andre would have dropped some clues to this in one of his many interviews if that was the case.
Just as the show is a post-modern breakdown of Late Night Talk Shows, fan theories behind the show need to stick to a more simplistic framework. There’s no particular setting, the show’s stage is meant to convey different low-budget Late Night Talk Shows depending on the season. Hannibal’s character is an apathetic side-man, which is as much a parody of sidekicks like Andy Richter as it is his actual character. If a sidekick would be quiet or deferential to the host, Hannibal is loud and dominates the host. Eric has stated that his main goal is to shock and confuse guests at first sight, which to me also feels like a complete parody of what hosts are supposed to be.
Altogether though, I like your theory because it fits into the existing information that we already know – The Eric Andre Show is a parody of LNTS, and where a regular show would prop guests up, include broadcast-friendly comedy skits, and have a traditional host and sidekick relationship, The Eric Andre Show consistently flips that entire entertainment vehicle on its head by humiliating its guests, creating absurd and graphical skits, and having a submissive moronic host with an apathetic and mean sidekick.
Thanks! Great thoughts.
I think the trouble with the Hell theory is that it’s too realized and too complicated. I’m not sure if you read the Media Life Magazine “review” I linked to, but it’s a great reaction because it’s someone who hates the Eric Andre Show as a result of trying to take it seriously and fit it into the existing boxes we already know. Another good example of this is the reactions Andre got at the RNC. People thought “he’s a typical liberal making fun of us,” which just doesn’t fit with what he’s doing. What’s he’s doing is subverting everything, but it’s confusing because we aren’t used to seeing a show take it to such extremes and absurdity.
I really liked the way they opened this season by listing other great artists – Marcel Duchamp, Andy Warhol, etc – and then ending the list with Eric Andre. I realize that was meant to be funny, maybe, but I think it really does fit. His show is just as much art as it is comedy, maybe even more art than comedy.
“I realize that no one asked for this fan theory, but it’s the one I have for you. Not the one you need right now, but the one you deserve”
I told you this blog post would take you places. I never said they were places you wanted to go.
Great theory, however, in S1 E8 at 5:13-5:26 Eric asserts his dominance by ordering Hannibal to wake up Lorenzo Lamas. If Hannibal were really the mastermind, wouldn’t it be Eric’s job to wake up sleeping Lorenzo? Hope this helps
Great catch… I may have to revisit Season 1 to see how it integrates into this
The Eric Andre show! Wow first off this show don’t make any sense. If he have a gift of comedic i don’t see it. No actor should put up with that crap.