Eric Andre Reveals How Howard Helped Greenlight ‘Bad Trip’ and Why Superstar Chris Rock Wound Up on the Cutting Room Floor
Comedian, TV host, and prankster returns to the Stern Show ahead of his new hidden-camera comedy film “Bad Trip”March 23, 2021
Leading up to Eric Andre’s Stern Show return, Howard and co-host Robin Quivers couldn’t help but gush over his new genre-bending comedy flick “Bad Trip” which uses hidden cameras to capture the looks on bystanders’ faces as Andre and co-stars Lil Rel Howery and Tiffany Haddish prank them in a variety of wild ways. Little did anyone realize, Howard himself inadvertently helped greenlight the comedian, actor, and TV host’s new project.
“You know, you’re responsible for the movie,” Andre told Howard on Tuesday. “The earlier times I did the show … one of the executives [Adam Rosenberg] that was working at MGM heard my interview. He was like, ‘I love this guy.’”
“Me and [‘Jackass’ director] Jeff [Tremaine] pitched MGM and he was like, ‘I’m in. Let’s do it!’” he continued. “So, we all have you to thank for making the initial connection. You are part of the seed.”
“Thank god, I love the movie. That’s really cool that happened,” Howard said.
“You’re like a Malcolm Gladwell-ian connector. You like brought us together and they gave us a bag of money,” Eric added. “You’re a matchmaker.”
“Bad Trip” follows two best friends (Andre and Howery) who embark on a cross-country road trip so one can profess his love for an old high school crush (Haddish), but for many the film’s primary appeal is its outlandish pranks, which include everything from Haddish dangling one of the guys from a building to Andre infiltrating a zoo habitat and pretending to get ravaged by a sexually adventurous gorilla.
“What kind of zoo allows that?” Howard laughed.
Eric said they’d originally worked out a deal to film at the Atlanta Zoo, but things quickly fell through. “They said, ‘We love pranks! Let’s do it here!’ Then we told them what the prank was and they were like, ‘Absolutely not,’” he told Howard. “We had to go to rural Georgia to find the one rogue zoo that would like let us do this prank.”
Howery had previously starred in big-time projects like “Get Out” and “The Carmichael Show,” but the actor had never before participated in an on-camera prank. As Andre explained it, the first stunt the two filmed together—which involved getting their penises stuck in opposite sides of a Chinese finger trap and asking a bystander for help—was nearly Howery’s last.
“That was Rel’s first day of shooting … We have a safe word. If I yell ‘popcorn’ that means you gotta come in and save me because we’re about to die,” Andre said. “I never yelled it, and things did not go fine.”
“We went into this hood barber shop with our dicks in a Chinese finger trap. We politely asked the barber for scissors and the barber was like, ‘Oh hell no.’ … he chased us out of the thing with a knife,” he explained. “I was so nervous I forgot my own safe word—because I’ve never used it. Instead of yelling ‘popcorn’ I was yelling ‘goosebumps.’”
Andre eventually remembered to say “popcorn” and security swiftly came to their rescue. He said the bystander’s aggressive tone changed as soon as he learned he was on camera. “He was like, ‘Y’all are hilarious. You got me with that one.’ He went from a murderous rage to slapping his knee,” Eric recalled.
It’s Hard Out There for a Prank
Several “Bad Trip” pranks didn’t work out as planned, but that’s just the nature of the genre. “We had a prank with Chris Rock where he played a cop and he pulled us over. We had some guy in the back … We were gonna prank him and plant these drugs on him … but then the guy recognized Chris right away,” he said. “It took like 12 hours to set up this prank and it all just vanished.”
“The disappointment when this doesn’t work must drive you insane,” Howard said.
“It’s all disappointment. 90 percent of the time you’re out there filming it just flops,” he responded. “Something doesn’t work, something falls apart, somebody gets recognized—you’re dealing with real people and the unknown.”
Chris apparently agreed to shoot his “Bad Trip” cameo for next to nothing, which only made Andre feel worse about the prank blowing up in their faces. The filmmaker and comedy legend handled the misfire gracefully, but he didn’t realize their aborted prank wouldn’t make it into the movie until talking to Eric on stage at one of his comedy shows.
“He came out for the encore and he was like, ‘So, are you ready for our movie together?’ And I was like, ‘We cut you out of the movie,’ while we were on stage. He was like, ‘What?’” Eric recalled. “He was like heartbroken.”
Another elaborate prank which involved an exorcist and Andre flying about a room was cut from the movie because it strayed too far from the storyline. “That was the biggest heartbreak. It was probably one of the funniest pranks,” he said.
Despite being tangential to the plot, Howard was still excited to see his guest getting exorcised. Thankfully, Eric said he plans to release that prank and several others at some point online.
The Student Becomes the Master
Eric, a self-described workaholic, spent years writing and shooting “Bad Trip.” He wanted the film to be perfect so when it came time to assemble a final cut he turned to legendary prankster Sacha Baron Cohen for advice. He told Howard the “Borat” star was a gracious and helpful mentor, inviting Andre and his team over for wine and a round of notes.
“That’s really generous,” Howard said.
“Oh, he’s a sweetheart,” Eric agreed. “He gave us a ton of advice and feedback. He was like, ‘This is working great. This needs help.’ He’s a total mensch.
“Were you nervous? I mean, that’s the master,” Robin wondered.
“I [was] because he’s a hero of mine. He’s like the Obi Wan of pranks. I sat quietly. listened to his every word,” he responded.
Wild Birthday Parties
Andre’s zany pranks aren’t always for the benefit of cameras. The 37-year-old told Howard he’s thrown himself several eccentric birthday parties over the years, incorporating everything from exotic animals and strippers on house arrest to elderly nudists.
“The only rule was they couldn’t mention they were nude and they just had to act as if they had clothes on,” he said of the latter prank. “We had this pretty old black guy walking around, and he had a massive cock, and he was just like spread eagle on the couch, and any time someone brought him up I’d be like ‘Oh shit, there’s my dad. Dad, you’re embarrassing me.’”
The Price of Success
While his new film and recent comedy special have no doubt introduced Eric to an even wider global audience, he started cultivating a cult following way back in 2012 after launching his comedy series “The Eric Andre Show.” Though he plays a seemingly irreverent version of himself on the surrealist talk show, getting into character has sometimes been tricky.
On one season, he intentionally embraced bad hygiene on and off screen. He rarely showered, stopped wearing deodorant, dirtied up his suit, and grew out his fingernails as long as he could. “I wanted to just reek,” he said. “I wanted people to be like, ‘This is a crazy person.’”
“It’s about commitment,” Eric added. “The prank genre forces you be fully committed to whatever stupid premise you come up with.”
On another season, Eric purposefully packed on a ton of pounds by eating pizza and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every night before bed. Howard wondered if eating all that junk food was enjoyable.
“It was fun for like a week, but then you get really depressed,” he responded. “You just know it’s going to be funny later … You gotta suffer for your art.”
Off the (Farmers) Market
And suffer he did when it came to his love life. He told Howard his season of bad hygiene made really put a strain on things between him and his girlfriend at the time. “It’s not great for my sex life. My creative choices are, you know, not getting me laid,” he said, adding, “It was very hard to be intimate with my lady at the time.”
Andre also opened up about dating actress Rosario Dawson a few years back. He told Howard many of his friends thought he was actually pranking them when he first broke the news. “People didn’t believe it. I finally get these bragging rights and people are like, ‘Good one, dude! She’s in on it, too?’” he said. “This woman came up to us on the street of New Orleans—she pointed to Rosario and she went ‘beauty …,’ and then she looked at me and she went, ‘… and the Beast.’ I was like, what the fuck?”
“Even friends from high school thought I was doing a bit. I was like, I’m not doing a bit. Come over to the house,” he continuned.
Things didn’t work out with Rosario, but Eric is in another relationship now with a woman he met before the pandemic at a farmers market—”where romance happens,” he laughed.
“What do you say? You walk up and go, ‘Hey I’ve got a TV show’?” Howard asked.
“And I have it playing on my iPhone as I walk up?” Eric laughed. “No, I don’t know. I just was trying to be charming and sweet.”
The woman apparently didn’t even realize Eric was famous until his fans interrupted their dates asking him for a selfie. “For the first like 10 dates, she’d love saying, ‘I had no idea who the fuck you were … seriously, no clue, like absolutely fucking zero.’ I’m like, ‘I know babe, but it’s starting to sound passive aggressive the more you tell me that,’” Eric laughed.
The relationship has only grown stronger with time and Howard couldn’t help but wonder what the future had in store for the happy couple.
“You want a big reveal?” Andre joked. “You know what, I guarantee tonight I will get her pregnant.”
“Wow, are you trying actively?” Howard asked. “Is that your next prank?”
“I’m gonna prank myself every day for the next 18 years raising a kid,” Andre finished with a laugh.
“Bad Trip” debuts Friday, March 26 on Netflix.