Great Job on Ten Years of Tim and Eric

first_img You Can Now Pre-Order ‘Dungeons & Dragons Vs. Rick and Morty’ Set‘Rick and Morty’ Season 4 Returns This November This summer, beloved bizarro comedy duo Tim Heidecker (the blonde sprite) and Eric Wareheim (the black-haired giant) are traveling across America for a 10th-anniversary reunion live show tour. Yes, this “10-year” mark is totally arbitrary as the announcement video itself mentions older Tim and Eric content like Tom Goes to the Mayor. However, it has been a decade since the live-action sketch show Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! first debuted on Adult Swim. And since that’s what introduced me to this deeply strange, singular, and influential style of comedy that I now adore, it’s a perfect time to celebrate T&E’s enduring weird and wonderful legacy.Awesome Show is, simply, a surreal scatological satire of American public access programming set in the VHS nightmare of capitalism’s bloated corpse with honest affection and/or sympathy for the poor everyday old dopes caught in the crossfire. Simple. It’s a show about the horror-comedy of dangerous and nonsensical products sold during infomercials. It derives joy from slight misspellings like Chrimbus and H’amb or awkward and excruciating dead air during live broadcasts. It repeats warped sounds and gestures and imagery with scary glee until your sides split and your brain blows up. It shows you the gross, charming, baffling real reactions of real people you never see in media with even the slightest budget. It’s absolutely uncanny. They both even appeared in a straight-up drama, 2012’s The Comedy, which mocks the obsession with irony one would imagine most Tim and Eric fans share.By repurposing almost archaic forms of media, Tim and Eric created one of the freshest modern alternative comedy styles. And in the ten years since Awesome Show debuted, we’ve seen that style influence many more comedians on TV and on the internet, where great short-form confusion reigns supreme. Avant-garde video editor Vic Berger used skills he developed while collaborating with Tim and Eric to produce the truest coverage of our current Hell of a political landscape on Super Deluxe.2007 was also the year Heidecker and Wareheim started their production company Abso Lutely Productions. Since then, Abso Lutely has helped bring to life some of the decade’s funniest shows including The Eric Andre Show (a show I shamefully overlooked during my retrospective of Adult Swim’s amazing African-American comedies but an amazing merger of Tim & Eric and Black sensibilities. Hannibal Buress!), Comedy Bang! Bang!, Review, and the Abso Lutely incredible Nathan For You. All of these shows reflect the unique artistry of their creators but they also all share a certain common comedy core that ties them back to Tim and Eric, ensuring the legacy for mem-mems and pep-peps to come.So that’s everything you need to know about why Tim and Eric are so hysterical, awful, awesome, and worth celebrating. That’s also a lot of TV to catch up on before the summer tour or a hypothetical Trillion Dollar Movie. But I don’t recommend binge-watching. That much concentrated Tim and Eric could actually melt your mind. For your health.Purchase:Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!Check It Out! With Doctor Steve BruleTim and Eric’s Billion Dollar MovieTim and Eric’s Zone Theory Stay on target Unsurprisingly, pulling off something that seems so beautifully brainless actually takes a lot of planning talent. The best critical essay I’ve read on what makes Tim and Eric work so well is still “I Don’t Get It: A Guide to Tim & Eric for Mem-Mems and Pep-Peps” by Cathy Fisher. Fisher breaks down the deceptively complex (and admittedly polarizing) comedic philosophy and intense, hyper-compressed, 2:00 AM channel surfing pacing that makes a sketch like Richard Dunn hanging out with David Navarro in a cheap dungeon set so funny. You should read the whole thing, but this passage especially stands out.At the heart of T&E’s comedy style is a governing concept: the ontological distances between1. Modern professional television and film2. Local/public-access television, home video, online video or any non-professional thing that you can find on a screen3. Real life In this universe, something like a parody of cloying MTV “extreme” talk shows, a heartwarming fever dream of Michael Cera turning into a cat on primetime, the entire internet on CD-ROM, a guerilla spaghetti fiend, and a real man saying real nonsense to his real puppets can all coexist in lunacy on Adult Swim, YouTube, and occasionally even HBO thanks to Will Ferrell and Adam McKay’s Funny or Die. It’s like vaporwave’s ADHD-addled sibling in television form or an abridged Internet Gutter. The beauty of this cult comedy concept is that it is strong enough to thrive outside of the original Awesome Show. It can be taken in exciting, even stranger new directions. Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie opened with a fake Johnny Depp movie based on a poem by Zach Galifianakis and featured a set piece involving Ray Wise as the leader of a sinister family-run toilet-based religion inside a mall.The book Tim and Eric’s Zone Theory: 7 Easy Steps to Achieve a Perfect Life is a perfect parody of bonkers, empty, new-age self-help scams.The Awesome Show spin-off Check It Out! With Dr. Steve Brule pushes Fisher’s “ontological distance” idea even further. The show’s public access aesthetic is even more authentically low-rent. It’s as trippy and hilarious as the duo’s output has ever been, almost in a Pee-wee Herman kind of way. But it’s also capable of unparalleled found footage frights with real people more convincing than any actors in a $5 million Blumhouse movie. Meanwhile, its lovable maniac hunk of a host is played by Academy Award nominee John C. Reilly. He basically plays the same character in Kong: Skull Island. Sweetberry wine!For a comedy show, you may have noticed just how often I bring up sheer dread when discussing Tim and Eric’s body of work. Their style relies so much on taking familiar, mundane things and exaggerating them to bewildering proportions that it’s as easy for viewers to be overwhelmed by terror than by laughter. Sometimes both happen at once, and that’s intentional. Tim and Eric’s Bedtime Stories is a Twilight Zone/Black Mirror-esque horror-comedy anthology show that pushes that style in a more firmly horrific direction But really all it took was moodier cinematography and tenser pacing. Alt-comedy legend Bob Odenkirk (who discovered Tim and Eric in the first place) playing a doctor who harvests toes is a concept that would’ve worked splendidly with either tone.10+ years is a long time to be making shows together, so it hasn’t been shocking to see Tim and Eric do more solo projects lately. Fortunately, they’re both still hilarious on their own. When he’s not being stabbed while protecting his neighbors, Tim has parodied everything from empty stand-up comedy routines to action shows to mainstream movie reviews to country albums (although his last album In Glendale was shockingly sincere). He even showed up in Bridesmaids and that Fantastic Four reboot for no reason. Meanwhile, Eric has turned his absurdist eye towards directing music videos for bands like Major Lazer and other comedy shows like Aziz Ansari’s Master of None.last_img

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