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This past weekend, the comedian Eric Andre auctioned off his first NFT—a burbling, animated bust of his head(s) titled “Non-Flushable Turd.”
— Eric Andre (@ericandre) June 24, 2021
Andre is best known for “The Eric Andre Show,” a surreal reinterpretation of the classic sit-down talk show, where he’s interviewed (and thoroughly spooked) T.I., Lauren Conrad, Jack Black, Pauly D, and many more. He also starred in the 2020 comedy “Bad Trip,” which The New York Times has called “preposterously tasteless.”
He’s the latest celebrity to hop on the NFT (non-fungible token) bandwagon, a trend that many critics have dismissed as a pure cash grab. Over the phone, Andre said that’s exactly what it is.
After an initial delay (“I’m so hungover I threw up,” he texted on the morning of our interview), Decrypt managed to snag 12 minutes on the phone with Andre, who did his best to promote his NFT from the inside of a packed car.
The following has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Eric Andre: I'm in a car full of my friends and my girlfriend. So it might—it won't be awkward, but you might hear some chatter in the B.G., background.
Decrypt: All good. Are you alive? What did you do last night?
I drank way too much alcohol.
Are you in New York?
I'm in Charleston, South Carolina.
I'm doing “The Righteous Gemstones,” the Danny McBride show for HBO, so I’m out here shooting.
So, NFTs, crypto. What's your take on the whole thing? How did this NFT happen?
Well, you know, I've been a crypto billionaire for years...
[To friend] Should I tell him the real story?
My girlfriend was like, you’ve got to get into NFTs. And I was like, what's that? And my friend Brianna went, “non-flushable turds.” And then my girlfriend’s like, “No, trust me, it's on the blockchain. You’ll get Ethereum.” And I go, “What words are you speaking?” I felt like an old man, like an unthawed caveman. It sounded like skateboard tricks. It was like, “Yeah, do a pop shove it nosegrind 360 flip back shove it HTTP backslash.” And then our friend Sam, who’s an artist, was like, “Dude, I just made $4 million selling a computer thing.” And I was like, “Whaaaat?” So I reached out to a few friends that make computer things, and now I'm trying to ride the wave. Did I miss the wave?
The big wave was a couple months ago.
Yeah, yeah. So, I should’ve listened to my girlfriend when she was speaking that… talkin’ that shit.
They told me you don’t really know anything about crypto, and I was like, that's fine.
Yeah, the money, the crypto money… which is I guess the new currency? Money is an illusion, it's all theoretical to begin with. I’m a gold standard guy. I believe in fuckin’ gold blocks.
I’m like a conquistador from fifteen-dickity-six.
Do you feel like crypto is funny? Like, is there an inherent weirdo comedy to it?
Well, it’s new, and it's theoretical. But at one point paper money was new and theoretical. So it's not that much different than paper money. It's like, this paper represents this amount of, whatever—value or work, it's the kind of the same thing, I guess except like, most governments don't believe in it. Except for El Salvador, the most stable country. They're known for their political stability.
Would you move there, now that they’re into Bitcoin?
Oh, yeah, yeah. I feel safe there, it’s like my home away from home... No, I don't think I'm moving to El Salvador any time soon.
Do you expect people to give you shit in interviews because you give other people shit?
Sometimes. I don't give anybody shit, it doesn’t come from a malicious place. But sometimes people try, and it's usually kind of clunky. And I’m like, “Leave the comedy to me, young man.” I give ‘em that lecture.
So you feel like people can’t outsmart you during interviews anyway.
Nah, who am I, Noam Chomsky? People can outsmart me. But usually journalists don't have the amount of prank experience that I do, so when they try it usually falls to pieces pretty quickly.
It’s hard to do pranks over the phone for a crypto website.
I mean, I think it was Ben Franklin who once said, “It's hard to do pranks over the phone for a crypto website.”
What about the art for the NFT? Who actually put it together?
My friends Maylee [Todd] and Kyle [Tan]. And I got a couple more coming out with some other pals. I actually do like what it’s doing for the art world, where it’s cutting out the middleman or the curator system. That old system is corrupt, and it's not totally artist-friendly. I think [NFTs are] great for an artist.
I think that if an artist can sell their art directly to somebody and make residuals on that art, they have more control over their art. And the money stream is directly to their pockets, and they cut out the gallery system, which is run by money laundering aristocrats that are basically tax evading mobsters.
Right, because crypto has no tax evading mobsters.
Well that’s also true. At least the tax evading mobsters’ money is going like 90% to the artists versus 50% of it. So if an artist is getting dirty money for their work, at least they’re getting the majority of their dirty money now, than the fucking antiquated gallery system.
A lot of people hate NFTs because they think they're bad for the environment, or they're just a cash grab. Did you anticipate any backlash?
Cash grab? Yes. I'm only in it for the money. So fuckin’ bring it on. But apparently there's a new platform—and you probably know more about this than me—there's an Ethereum 2 coming out that’s supposed to be carbon neutral. And also I don't have kids, so I'm not contributing to a carbon footprint. Every human you add to this earth is destroying the world exponentially.
What are you watching, reading, and listening to while you’re out there filming?
I'm reading this book on the history of Haiti. And it's fucking depressing. And I'm also reading this book on the history of the drug war that's really fascinating. I went to Mexico and I Shazam'd a lot of Mexican music, like cumbia. Not Colombian cumbia, but like Mexican cumbia. I’ve been traveling so much, I haven't been watching that much. I watched the Phoenix Suns game last night, I watched the Suns beat the Clippers.
Everything else I'm working on, I'm contractually not allowed to discuss it until I'm promoting it, unfortunately. But I’ve got a couple of things coming up. And I think they won't be a surprise, I think you'll be able to figure it out. It'll be a natural evolution of my previous work.
Are you into any other tech?