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Eric Andre's 'Bad Trip' Is Unlike A Lot Of Prank Comedies You Might Have Seen

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

The comedian Eric Andre released a new film on Netflix last month. It's called "Bad Trip." It has hit No. 1 on the Netflix charts a few times since its release. "Bad Trip" is a buddy road trip film meets rom-com meets hidden camera prank show featuring Eric and the actors Tiffany Haddish and Lil Rel Howery. But unlike a lot of prank comedies you might have seen before, there is a big difference with this one. NPR's Sam Sanders spoke with Eric Andre about it on his podcast, It's Been A Minute, and we're going to share an excerpt of their chat here. Here's Sam.

SAM SANDERS, BYLINE: I spent a whole lot of time talking with Eric Andre about the nuts and bolts of making a prank film. How do you hide the cameras? Apparently in coffee cups. How do you lure unsuspecting people into the prank? Free food usually works. Were you ever scared for your safety? Yes, Eric Andre was, especially after someone pulled a knife on him during filming. You know, I asked all those questions, but I think I was most into talking with Eric about how this prank movie is different than most other prank films because here, most of the people on screen are Black.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

SANDERS: So talking about these pranks were knives are pulled, et cetera...

ERIC ANDRE: Yes.

SANDERS: ...Did you have to have any extra safety precautions around the potential for those things? Because you - y'all aren't Johnny Knoxville. Y'all are Black people out in the world doing this stuff.

ANDRE: (Laughter) We - after the knife incident, we beefed up our security. We did have a security guard during that, but we leveled it up a lot after that...

SANDERS: OK.

ANDRE: ...Because that was a nightmare. So...

SANDERS: Yeah.

ANDRE: ...Yeah. And my safe word was popcorn, but I kept forgetting my safe word in those violent moments.

SANDERS: (Laughter).

ANDRE: I kept saying goose bumps for some reason. My mind just rerecorded goose bumps over popcorn. So I'd be yelling at security, goose bumps, goose bumps, goose bumps. And they'd be like, huh? And I'd go [expletive] popcorn.

SANDERS: (Laughter) Dude. Do you think it was riskier doing the pranks that you're doing with a team of people of color as opposed to, like, literally Johnny Knoxville and the white folks doing it?

ANDRE: Yeah. It can be. I mean - you know, it's funny. I even talked to Knoxville about this. Knoxville had a prank that he did back in the day in "Jackass" where he was in an orange prison jumpsuit with handcuffs and legcuffs, and he went into a hardware store. And he was like, can you saw these handcuffs off of me? What do you got? And cops came and, like, almost arrested him. And I was just like thinking like, yeah, if me and Rel did that [expletive], we'd be dead. (Unintelligible, laughter).

SANDERS: You'd be dead. They would shoot you on sight. They would shoot you on sight.

ANDRE: Shoot me on sight.

So there was things like that where it was like - I mean, we had Tiffany in an orange jumpsuit. But you know what? That was a very contained - like, except for the graffiti removal guy, we locked down the street for her own safety.

SANDERS: Oh, really?

ANDRE: So we weren't letting, like, pedestrians on that street. We, like, kind of trapped that, unbeknownst to him.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "BAD TRIP")

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: (As self) Better take your ass off. You better take off. You better [expletive]. You better run.

TIFFANY HADDISH: (As Trina Malone) Man, I'm going to get my car, and I'm going to go to Mexico. And I'm going to just start all over, man.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: (As self) Get those clothes off, and get the [expletive] out of here.

HADDISH: (As Trina Malone) Can I borrow your vest?

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: (As self) I can't give you my vest.

HADDISH: (As Trina Malone) You my lookout. I never forget a face.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: (As self) Go.

HADDISH: (As Trina Malone) Thank you for helping me escape.

ANDRE: Hidden camera means...

SANDERS: That poor guy.

ANDRE: Hidden camera means hidden crew, so we kind of, like, isolated that guy without his knowledge so that Tiffany would be safe in the orange jumpsuit.

SANDERS: I love that guy.

ANDRE: Yeah.

SANDERS: He was a frickin' good sport.

ANDRE: Oh, my God. He's amazing.

SANDERS: On top of, like, the team doing these pranks being Black and brown, I noticed a lot of the, like, civilians and bystanders involved and on the sidelines and wrapped up in these pranks, they're also people of color.

ANDRE: Yeah.

SANDERS: Was that intentional?

ANDRE: Not directly intentional. A lot of - we filmed the majority of the movie in Atlanta, you know, and around Georgia.

SANDERS: Well, that explains a lot.

ANDRE: So there's just a lot of Black people in Atlanta. But also, it's a Black cast in compromised situations - our characters are always in compromised situations, and it was just nice seeing Black people help Black people out. It was like the...

SANDERS: Yeah.

ANDRE: ...People we were pranking were, like, even more invested because me and Rel are in peril in so many situations. And also, like, Black people have better reactions. Like, Black people are so emphatic. And, like, a lot of people in the movie like, wear their heart on their sleeve in the way, like, they don't hide their feelings. Like, some like...

SANDERS: No.

ANDRE: Like, if you prank, like, a white businessman, they just kind of like, well, that's weird. I'm just going to walk away. You know what I mean? Versus the women...

SANDERS: Whereas the Black woman starts praying for you...

ANDRE: Yes.

SANDERS: ...Literally.

ANDRE: Or the woman in the chicken wing shop, J.R. Crickets, that's like...

SANDERS: Love her.

ANDRE: ...When Tiffany comes in...

SANDERS: The short-haired woman?

ANDRE: Yeah, yeah. Jackie (ph) was her name.

SANDERS: She's amazing.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "BAD TRIP")

HADDISH: (As Trina Malone) Hey, did you see these dudes? Did they come up in here 'cause you know they love chicken.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: (As self) Oh, girl, you just missed them.

JACKIE: (As self) You just missed them.

HADDISH: (As Trina Malone) Them [expletive] was here?

JACKIE: (As self) I was about to call you.

HADDISH: (As Trina Malone) Did anybody here see where these [expletive] went?

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: (As self) They went that way. They got in the car and went that way.

HADDISH: (As Trina Malone) I'm going to [expletive] these up.

JACKIE: (As self) Go get them, girl.

(CROSSTALK)

SANDERS: Yeah, I love Jackie.

ANDRE: And she's like, I was just about to call you, girl, when Tiffany came back.

(LAUGHTER)

ANDRE: She's like, I went to school with the police. I'm in security. I don't forget a face.

SANDERS: (Laughter).

ANDRE: Like, she's just so charismatic. Like, if she was a stuffy white businessman who's like - works for a hedge fund, I don't think we would gotten that same reaction we got there (laughter).

SANDERS: Yeah, yeah. And, like, there's also - when you're getting those kind of reactions from people of color, it's also revealing something that I never saw a lot of in "Punk'd" or "Jackass" or even "Borat." And lots of reviewers have spoken about this in the film "Bad Trip." There's a certain humanity that's revealed...

ANDRE: Yeah.

SANDERS: ...In these people that are being pranked.

ANDRE: Yeah.

SANDERS: They are usually nice. They're usually kind. And they're trying to help in spite of them being totally discombobulated by the prank.

ANDRE: Totally. You know what? When we first showed the movie to Sacha Baron Cohen, he had the best, like, succinct, astute review. And he turned to me, and he goes, you know, my movies are about exposing the corruption and hypocrisy of, like, wealthy white oligarchs. He goes, your movie is about showing the humanity and the beauty and the good Samaritan nature of Black people and working-class people. And like, he goes, I really hope your movie, like, unites the working class because we're pitted against each other so often through class and race that your movie shows the humanity of the proletariat. And I was like, wow. Like, right at the end of the movie, like, that was the first thing out of his mouth.

SANDERS: You can see Eric Andre's "Bad Trip" on Netflix right now. Trust me; it'll surprise you in a good way.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

KELLY: That was NPR's Sam Sanders having a lot of fun talking with comedian Eric Andre. You can hear more of their chat on Sam's podcast. It's called It's Been A Minute From NPR.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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