Eric Andre on Feeling Like a Prophet and New Special 'Legalize Everything'

If you've watched a single episode of The Eric Andre Show, then you know the Black and Jewish comedian is the ultimate jokester, and an even better prankster. In 11 minutes, Andre can leave you contemplating the meaning of life, considering how long it takes to chug a bottle of ranch dressing or planning the next destructive trick to pull on your roommate.

He brings that same type of outrageous energy in his new Netflix comedy special, Legalize Everything. Except the loud and unruly chaos that Andre is known for gets mixed with a broader sampling of the comedian's progressive perspective on societal mayhem. There's campaigning for legalizing sex work in the special, along with plenty of nudity and cracks about smoking weed with his mom. "Keep in mind, my mom is a 700-year-old Jew," he jokes.

Andre even flexes his clairvoyance in one bit, riffing on the brutality of the show Cops, which just so happened to get canceled just a few months after he recorded the special in New Orleans in October 2019.

"I'm a prophet!" he asserted in a recent phone interview with Newsweek.

The eerie timing of his new standup special being released amid widespread protests against racial injustice and calls to defund the police following the death of George Floyd isn't lost on Andre. The 37-year-old comedian discussed that bit of synchronicity and more in his conversation with Newsweek. Read our chat below.

This interview has been edited and condensed for the sake of length and clarity.

Eric Andre Is a Prophet
Eric Andre appears in the Netflix comedy special, "Legalize Everything." The comedian opened up about the standup special in an interview with Newsweek on June 25, 2020. Brian Roedel/NETFLIX

How have you been maintaining your sanity during the quarantine?

A lot of drinking. A lot of alcohol. I like rum. I like mojitos. I like piña coladas. I'm a rum guy. My dad's Caribbean. I got rum in my blood.

What's your reaction to all the praise for the special?

I'm happy that it's been so well received. I'm happy Netflix has been such a great partner and their subscriptions are just going up and up and up and up. The silver lining of the quarantine is that I have a very captive audience right now. We're at this point of the quarantine—we're over 100 days in—where we've kind of watched everything that we wanted to watch. So it's good to have new content out on Netflix. The response has been overwhelmingly positive, and I'm so happy that people are enjoying it.

Some people online were taken by surprise by the amount of social commentary featured in the standup set.

It's exciting to get to share a deeper point of view that I can't share on my Adult Swim show [The Eric Andre Show]. It's a different medium, but I'm glad that I'm giving people a broader view.

Did you ever think that a few months after performing that hilarious Cops bit that the show would actually end up being canceled for the very same police brutality you mocked in the special?

Ironically, Cops got canceled the day we put out the trailer for the special, which is basically a clip of the Cops joke. Comedy rarely gets better with time, and this is one of the rare instances. I was apparently clairvoyant and the material is actually more relevant than when I filmed it in October. That's just serendipity.

What are your thoughts about where we're headed right now as a country, in terms of race?

I'm feeling positive. I feel like we're reaching a tipping point. And this new generation—I'm very proud of Millennials and Gen-Z. People can't take it anymore. They passed a law in Breonna Taylor's name banning no-knock warrants [in Louisville]. They banned tear gas in Seattle. All four officers that murdered George Floyd have been arrested. We have a long way to go, but there's already positive change.

People are toppling down confederate statues and monuments. The turnout at these worldwide civil rights marches is at an all-time high. There's a lot of positive [change happening]. We've got a long way to go, but it's beautiful to see that people are just like, "Enough is enough." We have to dismantle the very system that allows racism. I'm proud of youth culture and the future generation.

Does comedy have a role in sparking change?

Absolutely. Sometimes when you are delivering a message and you're angry, icy or militant about it, you're not getting the message to everybody that needs to hear that message. But if you take that same message and package it in a joke, you kind of trojan horse it into people's brains that need that message. That's the beauty of Chris Rock standup, Dave Chapelle standup and even South Park. They can get their message across and get their message to the people who need to hear it through comedy.

You say in the special that we should abolish the federal government and get rid of "the old and boring constitution." If you were the one in control, what would the legal system look like?

I would redo the 13th Amendment that allows slavery in prisons. Slavery never went away. They just pushed it into the prison system, and now we see a prison-industrial complex that just turns out black and brown bodies. We have more people in prison than any other country. That would be the first to go. I don't know, I'd make a more peaceful and just society.

Also, some of the amendments that are almost completely irrelevant [would go], like the 3rd Amendment. [The Constitution] was written by slave owners in 1775, so it's no longer relevant. I think some of the amendments are good. I like freedom of speech, freedom of press and the freedom to socially assemble. Those are good.

I'm guessing you'd legalize adult use of narcotics?

I think that all nonviolent consensual adult activities should be legal. They are legal, but only to the very rich. And they make them illegal to the working class so that they can find ways to punish the working class for things that bring them joy and pleasure. It's just a system of control.

In the special, you rally for women and advocate for feminists. You even support the legalization of sex work. Meanwhile, the comedy industry has been rattled over the past couple of years with comedians being accused of sexual misconduct and mistreating women. What's been your reaction to some of the controversy surrounding the industry?

I want to be sure that you don't conflate the two. I don't think that we should think of all sex as a negative thing. I think that's part of the problem with our tyrannical society is that we only focus on the negative aspects of sex. Obviously sexual assault is evil. Human trafficking is evil. Sex with minors is completely inappropriate and should remain illegal. But I don't want to conflate that with positive sexual experiences and people having to step outside and meet with a professional to get their sexual needs met. As long as that's a consensual exchange, I think that's healthy.

I'm very wary of conflating the two because I think that's part of the problem. Our dialogue about sex in this nation is very focused on negative sexual experience and not positive sexual experience. Positive sexual experiences just don't make for good clickbait and juicy headlines. And a lot of online media is unfortunately at the mercy of this whole clickbait system, where they make sensational headlines so they can generate eyeballs on their websites and get ad revenue.

What's the future look like for Eric Andre?

I'm going to retire, man. The world's falling apart. I'm gotta learn to farm, build a house. [Laughs] I gotta build a bunker to prepare for the apocalypse.