Eric Andre on New Netflix Show 'Disenchantment'—'The Simpsons' Meets 'Game of Thrones'

For years, Eric Andre has pushed the boundaries of comedy on Adult Swim's The Eric Andre Show. In that series, Andre assumes the persona of a delusional, sociopathic talk show host intent on exasperating, disgusting and disarming his unsuspecting guests with ludicrous pranks alongside his friend and fellow comedian/deadpan sidekick, Hannibal Buress. Guests featured on the show rarely know what they're getting themselves into until they are dropped into what has been described as a "torture chamber" of organized chaos.

Like Da Ali G Show, The Tom Green Show and other cringe satire outings that have come before, the results of Andre's comedy can be polarizing. Adult Swim Senior Executive Vice President Mike Lazzo once called the show "one of the most interesting things we're ever aired," while some critics have dismissed it simply as "annoying."

In one man-on-the-street segment, Andre goes to Manhattan's Madison Square Park and strips down to a thong made of peanut butter. In another, he runs through a nudist colony wearing a tuxedo. Meanwhile, in the studio Jimmy Kimmel's son is tickling his father's butt from under a couch.

Since its debut in 2012, Andre has created, produced and starred in four seasons of the show, earning himself a reputation for being one of the most unusual and subversive minds in comedy, one that's far too bizarre for mainstream television. But with Netflix's new series Disenchantment, streaming on August 17, Andre now has a shot at breaking out as a household name.

Created by Matt Groening (The Simpsons and Futurama), the animated adult comedy-fantasy series follows the misadventures of boozy princess Bean, her feisty elf companion Elfo and "personal demon" Luci, in a crumbling medieval kingdom known as Dreamland.

Andre plays the mischievous sidekick Luci, sent by some otherworldly spies to keep an eye on Bean while tempting her into chaos. At the heart of it all, the journey of these three misfits is "an epic take of growing up in the Dark Ages"—according to the trailer—in a realm crawling with mystical beasts and magical humans.

Eric Andre attends the FX TCA Winter Press Tour Panel in Pasadena, California, on January 16, 2016. Getty/Imeh Akpanudosen

(Newsweek's interview with Andre has been condensed for length.)

Congratulations on Disenchantment. How would you describe the series?
I would say that it's somewhere on the spectrum between The Simpsons and Monty Python. It's Matt Groening's attempt at Game of Thrones.

How did you get involved with the show?
I got an email from my agent and almost didn't go because I suck at auditioning. But at the last minute, I was like, "It's Matt Groening, I should at least try." So I just recorded [my audition] very dramatically, with one hour left to send. Then I got a call back. I thought I was just going to meet with a casting director's assistant, but when I walked in the room, there was Matt and Josh [Weinstein]. And I got the job.

I have a TV show on Adult Swim and Matt and Josh were fans of my show, so I think that might have helped. I wish there was a crazier story, like we met at a bar in Tijuana and got into a knife fight or something.

You've been friends with Abbi Jacobson—who also stars in Disenchantment, as Bean—for years.
Total coincidence. I knew nothing when I auditioned. I didn't even know Abbi was in it. It was a pleasant surprise. She's incredible on the show, I was so excited when I found out it was her, and I wish I had more sessions with her.

Matt Groening's "Disenchantment" stars Abbi Jacobson as Bean, Eric Andre as Luci and Nat Faxon as Elfo. Netflix

Did you see the animation of Luci before you decided on how to voice him?
No. The first page of the audition was this giant schizophrenic monologue where he comes out kinda like a cross between Bugs Bunny, Tasmanian Devil, Ren…and Stimpy and the Genie from Aladdin. He's very all over the place and emotionally volatile. And I was like, "I know emotional volatility," so I just hammed it up as much as possible and made the character my own.

Disenchantment is a darker form of comedy than The Simpsons. Do you think that eliminates the potential for it to be as mainstream?
No, I don't think so. I think it has the same charm and humor as The Simpsons and Futurama. Matt has built such a legacy, brand and body of work that people just know to expect quality. I'm like the new kid at school. It's a lot of veteran Simpsons and Futurama writers and voices.

What was it like working with Matt Groening and the team?
I am such a fan. [Laughs.] I nerded out…. I still nerd out. I'm like 20 episodes in, and I'm still quoting Simpsons to their faces. It's like a total dream...completely surreal. My mom and sister used to watch The Tracey Ullman Show, and Matt had The Simpsons shorts on there before it became a series. I was, like, 5 years old, it's 1988, and I didn't understand The Tracey Ullman Show, but I would just watch and wait for The Simpsons. I was a first-generation Simpsons fan. I literally grew up on the show. It shaped my worldview, creativity and how accepting America is of absurdist humor.

Was your Eric Andre Show persona influenced by Krusty the Clown? Fans online have made comparisons between the two characters.
I've gotten Krusty the Clown. [Laughs.] I've gotten Sideshow Bob. I think my biggest influences are Krusty the Clown and WWF wrestlers…Hulk Hogan, Macho Man and Chris Farley…. Those were my influences growing up.

Eric Andre during the "Man Seeking Woman" panel discussion at the FX Network's portion of the Television Critics Association press tour, on January 18, 2015, in Pasadena, California. Getty/Frederick M. Brown

Will there be a Season 5 of The Eric Andre Show?
I am not allowed to say, but I will say that things are looking good.

How much longer do you have with the show before you can't do anymore?
I think I'd do a fifth and final season. I've been flirting with the idea of doing a BBC/Channel 4 sixth bizarre-o season in Europe. But in America I'd only be able to do one more season because the secret's out now. It's hard to prank people now that my anonymity has gone away.

If you could get any living human for your show. Who would you get?
Bill Cosby. [Laughs maniacally.] It would be one hell of a tense interview and difficult to produce. I'd like to prank the shit out of him before he spends the rest of his life in a jail cell...'cause he's a sociopathic serial rapist. Scumbag.

What I've noticed about your show is that it seems completely without agenda. Was this a conscious choice?
More or less. We didn't want to be overtly political with our messaging. We wanted the political message to feel organic. It comes out of the anarchic spirit of the show. Politics does weave in and out, but it's not as obvious and in your face.

When we started, Jon Stewart and Bill Maher were on too, and those guys are geniuses. I was like, "What's the point in competing with that?" It's just better to do my own thing, have the political messages weave in and out organically, and often times subliminally or metaphorically, rather than hitting the audience over the head with it.

I did this thing where I went to the RNC. We were writing all these political jokes, and we were like, "What if I got to the RNC and I didn't ask anyone a single political question and see how they react." That's why I asked Alex Jones to sleep with my wife and all these ridiculous things. People got pissed off anyway because they still circled it back to their own politics. It was a human experiment. I literally asked a guy for his Zootopia tickets, and he went off on me. He went nuts.

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"Disenchantment" premieres August 17 on Netflix. Netflix

You're always pulling out your genitals during segments of your show in an attempt to freak out your guests. Is there anything you wouldn't do for comedy? Do you have any hard lines?
It's case by case. I think there's good bad and there's bad bad. I don't have any hard rules. If something's truly in poor taste then I won't do it. Like, I wouldn't make fun of Donald Trump's youngest son 'cause he's a little kid. He doesn't know that his dad's a maniac who's a puppet of Vladimir Putin.

You've criticized both political sides in the past and called yourself a nihilist. Has that changed for you since Trump came to power?
I'm not really a nihilist.… I have bouts of nihilism out of my own frustration and cynicism. I still think there's corruption all around Washington in both parties, and I think both parties are fucking up. They're both deteriorating and becoming irrelevant. I think we're seeing the decay of both sides.

Also the justice system. The Electoral College system is completely irrelevant. The reason we have Trump is because of it. He didn't win, he lost by 3 million votes, but we have this archaic Electoral College system where a guy in Wyoming has, like, 10 times the vote as my vote for some 19th-century reason. I feel like there's gotta be an overhaul all throughout the entire political spectrum.

How much of the Eric Andre character on your show is really you?
It's just my inner child. My id [the disorganized part of the personality that contains a person's basic, instinctual drives]. When you talk to Howard Stern in person, he is incredibly grounded, smart, bright, intellectual and brilliant. He's said himself that his show is just his id. I would say that's similar to me.

Eric Andre [on The Eric Andre Show] is me acting on my inner child impulses. It is parts of my persona, it's not completely out of nowhere, but it's not the whole 360. I wouldn't be able to produce and deliver a television show if I really was that dude all the way through.

But when people meet me in person, they're usually pretty disappointed 'cause I'm way more grounded than my persona. I meditate twice a day, go to the gym, I journal, I go to therapy twice a week, I eat a macrobiotic diet. I'm, like, an incredibly boring person.

Disenchantment premieres August 17 on Netflix.