Trippin’ With Eric Andre and Lil Rel Howery
The ‘Bad Trip’ duo talk chemistry, almost dying on set, and the magic of Tiffany Haddish
“First of all, are you safe? It looks like somebody kidnapped you.”
Lil Rel Howery has just beaten me to the punch. Not to be outdone, Eric Andre quickly follows up with, “Blink twice if you’re in a hostage situation.”
We’re about 20 seconds into our conversation and we’re already laughing. I’ve forgotten the questions I’d prepared, let alone their sequence. But the laid-back air and laughter also confirm a suspicion I’ve had since watching the duo’s new film: These two have genuine chemistry.
That chemistry is the driving force behind Bad Trip, which lands on Netflix on March 26. Helmed by The Eric Andre Show director Kitao Sakurai and produced jointly with the team behind 2013’s Bad Grandpa, the film takes Andre’s brand of hidden-camera hijinks into feature-length territory. Much like that earlier project, all the pranks frame a central narrative.
“When the Jackass guys put out Bad Grandpa, it was the first kind of narrative hidden-camera prank movie I saw like that,” Andre says. “So my producer partners at the show linked up with the Jackass producers, and we started writing this idea together. It took a while, but we finally got it on its feet.”
Indeed. Initially delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic, Bad Trip is making its way to an audience that’s been stuck at home for more than a year, which makes the movie’s absurdist escapism—a throwback to the relatively carefree prank comedy of the early aughts and 2010s—a perfect fit. Andre explicitly points to Jackass and Da Ali G Show as influences. “I just wanted this to be the next level of that,” he says, “and a step up from my show. It’s a bigger and badder version of all the pranks I’ve seen done before, and more in my absurd comedy style.”
While Bad Trip wears its predecessors on its sleeve, the comedy is very much grounded in Andre’s signature style and the Black experience. One set piece sees Andre and Howery enter a space where they are the only two Black people, something every person of color has experienced. Other gags tackle the snitching and conspiracies, with one character attempting to enlist…