No Pants No Problem: comedian Eric André lets it all hang out at Gesher Theater

By Zoe Biehl
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Eric André recently graced the Holy Land with his depraved presence, performing two back-to-back sold out shows at Gesher Theatre in Jaffa.

The madman is best known for creating the “worst talk show in the world” (his words), The Eric Andre Show. André plays a completely incompetent and deranged talk show host that has increasingly spiraled out of control over the seasons to the point where he no longer bathes, brushes his air, or trims his fingernails. Poor, unsuspecting guests ranging from Flavor Flav to Howie Mandel are subject to a wide array of torture tactics as they are interviewed, never knowing what the lunatic will do next. Will live snakes fly out of his coffee mug? Will he puke on his desk and then slurp it back up?

Many might be thinking, “What is the point, Eric?”

To which André would respond:

“What is the point of anything? What is it all about? What does it mean? Existence is meaningless...or are we all connected? Or are we really here? Is this a dream that we’re gonna wake up from? Who is Donald Trump? Does he really exist? Is he Barbara Bush with a mask on? Could be.” At least, that was his response when Larry King asked him.

André also takes to the streets of New York to shock and awe random strangers. He’s like Sacha Baron Cohen on crystal meth—and it’s fascinating to see how quickly the social structure breaks down when one person starts violating norms to the extreme.  

André takes satire to the very edge and beyond, throwing his comedy off of a cliff along with himself. The blewish (black and Jewish) comedian has brought his self-destructive absurdism at its very finest – or worst, depending how you look at it – to Jaffa just in time for Passover.

His stand-up is certainly calmer than his talk show, but still dripping with absurdity as he fires away long streams of consciousness, often without real punchlines. Nobody knows where he’s going to go next, including him. His performance in Tel Aviv was perhaps a bit more amped up than usual, as he announces to the crowd that he’s high off of khat juice, a stimulant popular in the Middle East, but illegal in the United States.

André attempts to wrap his brain around the enigma that is Israel. Even while on stage, he enjoys turning the tables and interviewing the audience. “What’s going on here? Everyone has to be married by a rabbi, but most people are atheists, right?” Much of the crowd agrees. “Israel has the most orthodox nihilists in the world,” he concludes.

André quickly ramps it up by inviting two volunteers to the stage for a ranch dressing chugging competition. One eager young man runs on stage with his own bottle (and wins, of course). “Congratulations, you receive a stomach ache!” Eric exclaims.

Eric expertly deals with hecklers he can’t understand by scatting Jazz back at them throughout his performance, as he continues to escalate his disturbing jokes further and further.

The grand finale is filled with more audience participation. A rapper happens to be in the front row, so Eric tells him to freestyle. As he raps in Hebrew to the crowd, Eric dances behind him and slips down his pants and boxers, tucking his junk between his legs – a signature André move. He then Facetimes with a young lady’s confused mother and points the screen to the audience roaring with applause.

The roller coaster of a performance ends with André thanking the audience for pirating his show. “I had no idea I had any fans here,” he admits, shocked that the performances sold out so fast. The crowd goes wild as he waddles off stage, pants still half off. In a city like Tel Aviv where locals are barely offended by anything, it’s no wonder this absurd comedian is received with open arms.

By Zoe Biehl, who swears she isn't a groupie...

Eric André

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