The Eric Andre show is a chaotic fever dream. It’s an eternally-recurring hellscape that the host of the show, Eric Andre, lives again and again; an endless, torturous cycle from which he can never escape. And it’s exactly like tripping on Salvia divinorum.
It sounds crazy, I know. But I’m not the only one who thinks this. Well, okay, I may be the only person that connects the show to Salvia specifically. But other people have caught on to the eternally-recurring part, asserting that Andre is stuck in hell, purgatory, or something along those lines. For example, this Reddit fan theory posits that, “The Eric Andre show takes place in hell.” The author writes:
Eric Andre is a failed talk show host who commits suicide via an overdose of pills (why he is constantly puking). His punishment is that he has to host the absolute worst talk show for eternity. Hannibal is the demon that oversees the show and makes … [sure] that he’s always running (why he’s so pushy about the monologues).
Eric is allowed to walk the earth on the condition that he can only interact with other humans to cause torment via his “on the street” segments.
Or, look at this theory as recounted by the website What Would Bale Do:
“We seem to be viewing some sort inescapable closed universe containing nothing but an endless slightly nightmarish talk show. It feels like a bad dream, half remembered. It feels like there’s some unspeakable horror lurking just off-camera that the people on-stage can see, but, we can’t, and they can only stay safe by pretending to ignore it.”
Heck, this guy even made one of those creepy YouTube videos about the theory:
But here’s my case that the Eric Andre experience is pretty similar to a Salvia trip. I think you’ll have no choice but to see things from my point of view in the end.
The evidence that the show is eternally-recurring
Let’s start with the evidence for the first part of my theory: That the Eric Andre Show is eternally-recurring.
The best evidence for this is the opening sequence. Every episode opens with Eric Andre completely destroying the set; like a feral animal, he tears tears down curtains, knocks down shelves and demolishes everything he can get his hands on, including, always, his desk. It’s like the set is a prison he despises with every bone in his body, and he’s doing his best to smash it to bits, to destroy it once and for all.
Yet, every single time, the opening sequence ends with Andre plopping himself down on his chair, where his smashed-up desk magically reappears, whole once again. And it’s almost like nothing ever happened. No matter how many times Andre tries to destroy his prison, to end the show once and for all, it just keeps going, again and again and again.
Every time, Andre just sits there a moment, covered in sweat, gasping for breath and looking completely and utterly defeated, until his co-host, Hannibal Buress, comes out. Often, Andre will explain to Buress that destroying his set was all he had planned for the show, to which Buress will angrily implore him to begin his monologue (which lends credence to the Reddit theory that Buress is the demon overseeing the show in hell).
Eternal recurrence has a long history. It seems it’s an idea that has fascinated and haunted human beings for a long time. Physician-philosopher Sir Thomas Brown said all the way back in the 1600s that, “All things began in order, so shall they end, and so shall they begin again.”
In his book The Gay Science, German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche posited eternal recurrence as a kind of potential heaven or hell, depending on how one looked at it. He wrote:
What, if some day or night a demon were to steal after you into your loneliest loneliness and say to you: ‘This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more’ …. Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who spoke thus? Or have you once experienced a tremendous moment when you would have answered him: “You are a god and never have I heard anything more divine.”
Eric Andre, as will become apparent as we delve deeper into the show, would definitely react the first way, not the second. He keeps trying to destroy his world, but it keeps coming back despite his best efforts. It’s like a fucked-up version of Groundhog Day from which he can never escape.
Eternal recurrence while tripping on Salvia
If you read accounts of people’s Salvia trips, you start to notice patterns … similarities between the vast majority of trip reports. One of the commonalities I’ve noticed is an abundance of experiences that sound an awful lot like eternal recurrence.
One of the best examples of this is a trip report posted to the site Salvia-trip.net. It’s called, “Does my life repeat.” The user writes that when they trip on Salvia:
I realize that my whole life is just some scripted repeating hell that I am stuck in for all of eternity. I remembered all of the other millions of times I have lived my life and I remembered what will happen in the trip from the other countless times I have lived through it.
The author felt he would never be able to leave his room, even though that was the only way to “break free from my scripted reality.” But he never could. It was impossible, because it wasn’t part of the script.
No matter what, the next time I live my life, I will never be able to open the door, Its [sic] not in my script to open the door, so I never will. This trip permanently changed the way I view life, as I realized that I will never end this hell of repeating the same exact life over and over and over again. There is no afterlife for me, only this. I have typed this message to you a million times, and will do it a million times more.
This sense of resigned terror reminds me a lot of the Eric Andre show.
When you start to look at the Eric Andre Show as some kind of hell or purgatory, there are lots of little moments that seem to reinforce the concept. For instance, look at this member of Andre’s band asking a guest if she can help him kill himself. Sure, you could take that to be a random joke — and it is — but maybe he’s literally pleading for the guest to help him kill himself so he can escape the endless cycle of torture.
There’s lots of other little moments that add up. Eric Andre is constantly shooting at and attacking people. Sure, he’s crazy, but it would explain things more once you realize that he doesn’t care about the consequences of his actions, because he doesn’t believe the world around him is real. Or at least, not permanently so. He can do whatever he wants: Hit people, shoot them, destroy his set, and yet everything will be back to normal (or as normal as this show gets, anyway) when the next episode rolls around.
Look, do I think the conceit of the Eric Andre show is that he’s literally tripping on salvia? No. Do I think the conceit is that he’s in hell or purgatory? Maybe. That’s a little more likely.
But I’ll tell you this much: I came to the conclusion that the show represented an eternally-recurring hellscape just a few minutes into watching the first episode. And I definitely think my experience on salvia contributed to that recognition. Maybe Eric Andre isn’t intentionally tapping into the salvia experience, but intentionally or not, he’s doing so. Maybe he has a little help from “the universe,” or from interdimensional beings pulling strings we can’t see. Maybe there’s a message hidden so deeply within this show that Eric Andre doesn’t even know it’s there.