Stand-up guys

Tim and Eric’s 15 minutes
By MIKE MILIARD  |  December 4, 2007


VIDEO: A teaser for Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! season two

“In the sphere of thought, absurdity and perversity remain the masters of the world,” wrote Schopenhauer, “and their dominion is suspended only for brief periods.”

Whereas for certain other brief periods — say, 15-minute bursts at a quarter past midnight every Sunday — that dominion is exploded. The second season of Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! (Adult Swim, Sunday night/Monday morning at 12:15 am) continues the descent into the absurd, disturbing world of Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim, the synapse-snapped creators of 2004’s animated hybrid Tom Goes to the Mayor.

“A mostly live-action/sketch/variety/insanity experience,” Tim and Eric described the show before its premiere last year. That’s putting it mildly. Theirs is a head-spinningly gaudy audio-visual assault, a quick quarter-hour of rapid-fire sketches that delve bravely into the crazy/creepy netherworld of public-access TV, low-budget local newscasts, late-night infomercials, and music videos that time should’ve forgotten.

Beyond the purposefully amateurish production values — chintzy computer effects, gleeful blue-screen weirdness, matrix wipes galore, often soundtracked with awful ’80s synths — the most striking (and polarizing) thing about the show is the duo’s often disturbingly weird comic sensibility. They make the meaning of the term “comedy of the uncomfortable” apparent.

There’s Casey (Heidecker), a horrifically sickly karaoke singer with hot-pink glistening skin and caterpillar eyebrows whose brother (Wareheim) dances beside him in spastic slo-mo. There’s the nonsensical but compelling new character (Heidecker) who, bald-pated with a thick black ponytail, crams his pie hole with pasta and speaks in pidgin Italian before leaping from behind a ficus in vain attempts to spook the unsuspecting: “Spagett!

And there’s Jan and Wayne Skylar, “The Only Married News Team in the Tri-County Area” — holdover characters from Tom Goes to the Mayor who allow Wareheim (pencil-thin goatee, blow-dried hair, paisley shirt) and Heidecker (rouge, lipstick, librarian specs) to canoodle in connubial bliss.

The Tim-and-Eric aesthetic — a kaleidoscopic barrage of happy rainbows and tongue-kissing kittens, cockroaches and disintegrating faces, jump cuts and slow-garbled speech, all of it recalling the sensory disassociation of heavy drug use — is not for everyone. But their zestful spelunking through the darker corners of marginal mass media has high-profile fans. Bob Odenkirk (who produced Tom Goes to the Mayor) is omnipresent in a variety of minor roles. John C. Reilly is masterful as the camera-shy, uneloquent special news correspondent, Dr. Steve Brule. David Cross, Paul Reubens, Fred Willard, Patton Oswalt, Michael Cera, Zach Galifianakis, and Fred Armisen have all had guest spots.

The guest stars also include regular folks like the adorably elderly Richard Dunn, street-corner ventriloquist David Liebe Hart, and hilariously awful public-access impressionist James Quall. Although it seems they’re featured out of a genuine affection for their quirky personalities and the amateur milieu from which they sprang, every so often one wonders whether the line between laughing with and at isn’t being blurred.

The show’s short-attention-span format means it’s a natural for on-line viewing; clips of almost every sketch are available at adultswim.com. And, yes, that includes the grotesque mock commercial for “The Poop Tube,” a jury-rigged device that allows one to defecate standing up at a urinal. That’s just one of many, many reasons my fiancée cannot stand the show.

  Topics: Television , Politics, Paul Reubens, Local Politics,  More more >
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