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 V.21 No.20 | May 17 - 23, 2012 
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Idiot Box

When Is a Talk Show Not a Talk Show?

“The Eric André Show” on Cartoon Network

Lately, Cartoon Network has come to the conclusion that it’s not all that into cartoons anymore (“Level Up,” “Hole in the Wall,” “Destroy Build Destroy,” “Dude, What Would Happen”). To support this, the network’s late-night block, Adult Swim, settled on the idea of horning in on Comedy Central’s territory, airing live-action sketch comedy shows by freaky, antihumor comedians (“Tim and Eric, Awesome Show, Great Job!” “Eagleheart,” “Check It Out! With Dr. Steve Brule,” “Delocated,” “Children’s Hospital”). In fact, if you’re really searching for cutting-edge comedy, you’re more apt to find it on Adult Swim these days. Comedy Central is stuck in the standard stand-up mode. Adult Swim, on the other hand, is pushing the bounds of comedy into strange, new, Yoko Ono-esque realms.

Stepping in front of the cameras to mess with our minds this week is Eric André (“Don’t Trust the B---- in Apartment 23”). “The Eric André Show” is a riotous send-up of TV talks shows—in that the show most closely resembles an actual riot. André plays the unhinged, unprepared host. Hannibal Buress (“30 Rock,” “Saturday Night Live”) is the disinterested co-host. There are celebrity guests (Dolph Lundgren), fake celebrity guests (“George Clooney”) and the occasional random weirdo. Sometimes André will ask an uncomfortable question (“Who would you rather have sex with, your mom or your dad?”). But mostly, it’s just crazy crap flying at the screen from all directions. An impromptu game show sans rules, a request to chug coffee, a hidden camera segment on the street, a pair of bands trying to drown each other out, much smashing of scenery: These are just a few of the elements in the show’s chaotic first episode.

It’s no surprise to find “The Eric André Show” produced by the folks behind “Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!” Indeed, it plays like a slightly more focussed sketch from that show. André’s humor isn’t quite so mind-bendingly surreal as Mssrs. Heidecker and Wareheim, but he’s not above the abusive use of slapstick and does love his non sequiturs.

Clearly, like basically everything Adult Swim airs these days, “The Eric André Show” is for select tastes. Some will dig it. Others will be frightened by it. But in the post-midnight slot on a Sunday night, it makes for some appropriate insomniac viewing.

“The Eric André Show” debuts Sunday at 1:30 a.m. on Cartoon Network.

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