The Eric Andre Show has often been described as a nightmare version of a talk show. To call the show unconventional or alternative is a massive understatement. The Adult Swim series is a massively surreal deconstruction of the talk show and for years it’s been surprising its audience in new ways. Arguably the weirdest character from the exceptionally weird Eric Andre Show is the cheese-centric Kraft Punk, a bizarre, loathed mystery man who can never die.
In a particularly surprising move, Adult Swim announced that Kraft Punk would be getting his own half hour political special wherein his strange style mingles with Washington D.C.’s finest. The results are some of the weirdest and most interesting material to come out of The Eric Andre Show.
Somehow this pun joke of a character has become a part of something oddly thought provoking. Since Kraft Punk has largely remained a mystery to the public, we decided to dig deep into the character and his new special with Dan Curry, an influential voice on The Eric Andre Show and a fundamental force in Kraft Punk’s creation. We talk about Kraft Punk’s history, the demise of the panel talk show, and what the future holds for this outlandish character!
DEN OF GEEK: How was this character originally conceived all the way back on The Eric Andre Show? I imagine it was your idea, which is why you’ve kind of become the character’s champion?
DAN CURRY: To some degree, but let me be clear about one thing: I’m not Kraft Punk. Everybody who wants to be Kraft Punk is Kraft Punk! Anyone can put on the suit, but yeah, back during season three of The Eric Andre Show I had this idea. I thought it was a really dumb idea and I actually waited a few days on it before announcing it, which then made it feel even more stupid than normal.
So you said that it’s not always you in the costume, but that it’s a mix of people?
It’s always a secret who’s in the costume. We’ve had a few people in there. Banksy, he’s been in the costume. It’s just been hundreds of thousands of people in Kraft Punk at this point, which is really just representative of his personality or non-gender identity for that matter. I’m like Kraft Punk’s manager, basically. I keep a tight lid on him.
The voice aspect of the character has always been interesting to me, too? Do people actually hear you, or is it done in post?
We do different things for different occasions. Sometimes we have a voice modulator. Sometimes it’s silent. It just depends. Kraft Punk has many ways.
What was the genesis of this special? Did you specifically want to do something with this character, or did you want to do something political and then thought he’d be the craziest filter for it?
Eric and I did the RNC thing to promote the fourth season of The Eric Andre Show and there was just something about our approach there. It can be easy to get bored of Hollywood—actors are boring, you know? But politicians and pundits are a lot of fun to toy with. Remember Ali G’s HBO show where he would host a panel?
I miss that old panel dynamic and wanted to bring it back. I was determined to bring it back. After Jon Stewart just obliterated Tucker Carlson on Crossfire, they got rid of the panel! It killed the genre and so I wanted to bring back the panel show!
It’s funny you mention Da Ali G Show because I definitely got that vibe, but also a lot of shades of what Sacha Baron Cohen was doing recently on Who Is America?
Well we did have Eric Notarnicola as our director, who came fresh over from directing on Who Is America? But also my editor, Drew Kordik, who was an editor on that, too. So it was a great advantage, as a producer, to have people who were coming from that and then figuring out how our approach here would be different.
You said you were big on getting panel discussions back, but were there other segment ideas or a different structure at all that was considered, or was it always just the interviews and man on the street stuff?
We were always focused on the panel because we wanted to show a real debate and have that mix with the absurdity of our host. I like the idea of other people talking to each other and building to their own argument. The burden with The Eric Andre Show is that he is the sole person so he needs to be there, but with this I wanted to generate real conversations between people and then have Kraft Punk be the solution, as opposed to the driving force of the problem.
Were there any people you really wanted to get for interviews, but couldn’t?
Yeah, we almost, almost had Omarosa [Manigault Newman]. We had her on back during our New Year’s Eve Spooktacular for Eric Andre many years back, but we still had her number kicking around. She became pretty relevant, but we just couldn’t lock it in. But every Republican woman that we booked ended up canceling in the end.
What about other topics you maybe wanted to feature in the roundtable discussions? Is there anything that you wanted to touch on, but you didn’t?
We were originally going to do four panels instead of three, but just booking that many people in that space at the same time is super difficult. I had amazing producers here, but we were just ambitious with how much we wanted to feature, so there was an environmental one that got cut. I also wanted to do one-on-one interviews because some people couldn’t make it, but I still wanted to talk to them. So we set up a studio in Washington D.C. that was remote and just for that.
Are you interested in making this an official Eric Andre Show spin-off and keep it going, or meant to just be a one-off?
I am actually of the opinion where I like that this is just a periodic TV special. I have a few other ideas for other TV specials to approach with this, but I just don’t want the joke to be super old in like five years. I hate Kraft Punk. I love him, but I hate him. You’re supposed to hate him.
So it’s like, don’t put too much juice into something stupid like this. I don’t think I want to be in it for the long haul, but I do have a crazy idea that I’d love to do as a follow-up. I want to take the Flat Earther guy that we had down to Antarctica on a mission to see if the Earth is flat or not, because he believes in the ice ball theory. So Kraft Punk needs to go to Antarctica. He’s entitled to it.
So if you think if you keep doing more, it won’t always have a political slant to it?
think it’ll still stay political to some degree Maybe he’ll visit all of the state capitals alphabetically. Or let’s just do fifty states. Kraft Punk visits all fifty states.
If you were to do more specials, would you want Rachel Dolezal to maybe be Kraft Punk’s sidekick and his Hannibal, so to speak? There’s a real chemistry there.
There absolutely was chemistry. So maybe, you never know? I don’t know how busy she is. If anything, she’ll cameo. Maybe just a video call in a worse case scenario because she should make an appearance, right?
Speaking of cameos, I like that Hannibal and Eric make minor cameos here. Did you consider not including them at all, or using them in some other capacity?
We wanted some connectivity with the show. In Hannibal’s case, I just pitched that gag out to him directly because he’s just so busy. I go to the movies and he’s like the voice of a bird or something. So if he’s busy, I don’t want to take up his time with something as silly as Kraft Punk, but you know, he’s one of the OG haters of Kraft Punk. He’s important!
Were there any crazy situations or problems that happened when you were out in the public that weren’t caught on camera? Were there any issues with the police?
There was a lot of stuff we caught on camera that we just couldn’t fit anywhere. During the credit sequence at the end is one of my favorite moments from the whole special. We’re at this bar where all of these senators and congressman hang out and I approach this table full of congressman and just start acting like the alpha male.
It’s just so ridiculous and it’s there during the end credits. That was caught on camera, but what I mean is that that one moment was golden, but the two hours around it were just garbage. So a lot of the man on the street stuff is just about paring down the trash to what works. We went to K Street and shortened a lot of that material down. It just didn’t necessarily connect well.
Was there a particular moment during the interviews that just really surprised you or you couldn’t believe was happening? You said that Flat Earth stuff made a big impression?
Yeah, but my favorite interview is the second one and I don’t want to say too much there because I want people to be shocked by that one. I was fascinated by the flat Earth guy though because it’s a whole conspiracy I had obviously heard about before, but never had the chance to engage with it. I had guessed that the flat Earth guy had probably started as a 9/11 truther—that’s kind of the gateway drug to bigger conspiracies. You have to chase that though. You can’t just stay on 9/11, so when you find out about flat Earth, it’s like heroin to you!
I love that glimpse of Kraft Punk without his helmet on. How much of this character’s history and “rules” do you actually have figured out? Shine a light on his life.
My rules are that 1. He cannot die, and 2. That there are a lot of Kraft Punks. Like you know at the beginning of The Dark Knight when there are all of those Batmans out there? There are all Batman, just like these are all Kraft Punk. It’s all very zen. He’s a concept more than a person. Kraft Punk is just an outpouring of a talk show inside joke that won’t die, both figuratively and literally. So he’s all things. But that scene with the helmet off is a nod to The Empire Strikes Back. That sequence where Darth Vader has his helmet off is awesome and you’re like, “What the fuck is that?” So I wanted to tap into some of that energy here. Kraft Punk serves what ever is necessary in the moment.
By that logic you’ll have to do like an Episode I prequel series where some boy grows up to be Kraft Punk down the road.
You know, I read a Reddit theory that Kraft Punk is Eric Andre from the future. So it’s that Eric can’t die—and he loses his success after The Eric Andre Show, so he becomes Kraft Punk and begins to self-produce all of these shows that aren’t as good as The Eric Andre Show. So Eric, AKA Kraft Punk, goes back in time to try to sell the Kraft Punk idea early and give it momentum. Now, this is not me saying this. This is just Reddit. I’m not even denying its existence or its truth. I might be pouring some gasoline on that fire. We’ll see.
But to come full circle here, the Kraft Punk special was influenced by The Empire Strikes Back and the final scene of Boogie Nights. When I was writing the special Mark Wahlberg did some interview where he said that the only movie of his that he’s ashamed of is Boogie Nights, and that’s just crazy. It’s his best movie! I love The Departed, but Scorsese has done a lot better and Boogie Nights is the movie that made him become Mark Wahlberg from Marky Mark! So I had to throw that movie a bone and pay it respect.
Along the same lines, is there any detail on his costume or body that we probably have never noticed, but deserves some attention drawn to it?
We tried messing around with the suit a little and making it more slicked out and shinier, but it bounced off the cameras too much and got wonky, so we went back to his traditional look.
Did you consider at all having Kraft Punk pop up on Hot Package or Mostly 4 Millennials? He wouldn’t be out of place in those worlds.
I think Derrick Beckles, who was there at the beginning of The Eric Andre Show, wanted it to be its own universe. I think we just decided it should be a separate world. Like if The Eric Andre Show is airing on one channel, then a Derrick Beckles show is airing on an opposite channel as competition—but in the best possible way. As silly as it sounds, we just decided early on to keep it all separate. Extremely early on in the process there was even discussion of Tim and Eric characters should pop up on the show at all and we were just like, “No, let’s keep them apart.”
Can you talk at all about Eric’s upcoming film, Bad Trip, and if you were involved with that in any capacity?
It’s coming out in October and it should be a lot of fun. Jeff Tremaine, from Jackass, is a big influencer on this one. He’s the real kingpin, so he was fun to work with on this one. It’s been a long time, but I’m excited for its release. It was super different, but it was so enjoyable. I had developed it and wrote the script with Eric, but I wasn’t on camera or as involved when it was filming.
Movies are just so different in terms of production and I disappeared from it after a while. We wrote it and I went to set to work with Eric and riff on some things, but once the writing work was done I was mostly gone. I didn’t produce the film or anything. There were a lot of ways to tackle a project like this, but it’s really difficult to build a narrative through something like this if it doesn’t have a script and there’s a reason there are so few films of that nature. You just need to remember to always be in the moment with that kind of stuff.
KrftPunk’s Political Party is currently streaming on Adult Swim.com and airs Friday, March 8 at midnight.