Eric Andre brings punchy humor, orchestrated chaos to Netflix comedy debut

review of netflix stand up special legalize everything
Eric Andre Comedy Special 2019

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Grade: 4.0/5.0

Eric Andre has become a household name for exaggerated gimmicks, full-frontal nudity and controlled screeching in the name of a good laugh. On his latest stand-up special, “Legalize Everything,” Andre stays true to this intense brand of humor. The Netflix special, released June 23, is a freight train of jokes with unbelievably ludicrous punchlines, delivered by Andre with a straight face. 

Known for his antics on the “The Eric Andre Show,” Andre is in the midst of a four-year hiatus from the show, choosing instead to channel his frenzied energy toward other works such as “Legalize Everything.” The fifth season of the show is set to premiere later this year. 

Beginning with Andre masquerading as a cop in New Orleans and offering various drug paraphernalia to passersby, “Legalize Everything” somehow manages to elevate Andre’s over-the-top skits to a new high. Andre then dives into a high-energy opener, gauging the crowd’s interest in different drugs. “You ever, like, smoke a big-ass joint and just blow it right into a baby’s face?” queries Andre, setting the tone for the rest of the special.

From smoking marijuana with his mother to joking about getting a medical crystal meth card, Andre delivers each segment with such seriousness that the drastically absurd punchline is always unexpected, despite invariably following each setup. 

But even while confined to a stage, Andre has no shortage of physical gags under his belt. “What’s the most high you’ve ever been in public, my man?” Andre mumbles as he climbs on top of an audience member. He also has fans visualize their parents during intercourse and brings out an elderly couple, who mock fornicated on stage to complete the visualization.

While Andre’s show is intended to focus on drug experiences and the ensuing hilarious outcomes, viewers find him jumping from discussing his Xanax-induced blackout at Coachella to a slew of sexual jokes and then somehow, feminism. Yet all topics he pokes fun at are still connected to the previous, flowing organically from one strange story to the next.

Andre also throws in a few political lines, launching attacks against the war on drugs as a racist policy and calling for the legalization of all drugs. He also makes a point of criticizing the theme song of the TV show “Cops,” declaring, “You can’t slap reggae over police brutality footage and call it a day.” Andre is able to mix politics with carefree jokes without losing the engagement of the audience, though he isn’t as successful as other well-known comedians in pulling it off without a hitch.

The most bewildering gags of the show take place near the end of the hourlong special. The first is Andre revealing his text escapades with a former hookup, whose boyfriend angrily messaged Andre to stop texting her. Sharing his phone on a screen for fans to see, Andre pokes fun at the boyfriend calling Andre a “one-hit wonder from her past.” The piece is funny overall, but seems rather thrown in compared to the rest of the show’s content.

Next, Andre transitions to an auto-fill text message prank he carried out on audience members’ mothers. One mother responds to Andre’s nonsensical texts and even calls him on FaceTime, going along with the prank and revealing her collection of edibles on screen. Though the bit feels scripted because it seems too good to be true, Andre still pulls it off to roars of laughter.

Andre ends the special by stripping mostly naked, which he usually does at one point in his shows, a marker of his juvenile but reliable roots.

“Legalize Everything” is so ridiculous, viewers can’t help but laugh. Andre’s screeching, indistinct grunting and gurgling, coupled with his quiet laughter at some of his own jokes makes for an equally inane and enjoyable experience. He’s one of the few comedians who can start at a 10 and keep the same level of energy going throughout the show without it becoming overwhelming, predictable or boring. With “Legalize Everything,” Andre proves again that he’s a master of post-ironic humor, and he’s not going anywhere.

Contact Pooja Bale at [email protected].