Imagine if you will, a Bizarro universe where instead of a present-day existence pioneered by M.I.T. graduates, Silicon Valley engineers and aspiring movie directors working for MTV: your futures were created by legally defined retards. Or those corporate bosses you couldn’t stand! That is what lays the foundation for Tim and Eric Awesome Show. It turns Gortex into faded bell- bottom corduroys.
Who Are They?
Hosted by Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim who first appeared on the adult swim scene with Tom Goes to the Mayor, they are a comedy team who incorporate a live-action, low-tech approach to produce their comedic wares. Their production values are like a colorblind science teacher who daily picks out his own wardrobe, mismatched and yet you are unable to turn away from the spectacle. And when I say that I mean their techniques range from a hokey green screen to good old-fashioned prop devices. Notably with the team, there is no single straight man, fat man or cross dresser. They equally participate in degrading themselves. But it is always amusing to find out where each of them are placed in a sketch or parody.
When it was first described to me, I thought I could handle this. After all, I am an accomplished student of the comedic genre. I know my Python and have written papers on everything from the French New Wave cinema to the origins of the screwball comedy.
But for me, “The Learning” was not enough.
All good sciences push the envelope of what came before them. But not this show, it actually boils down the hard facts to the least common denominator. It melts down technological wisdom and accepted social behavior in a blasting furnace of it’s own design.
It’s almost as if my generation, the 30-40’s crowd, were too smart for everything that came before us. And because of this, we are attempting to hijack our earliest memories and change them. Like we a lost bet and now have to make our past even more deplorable.
For me, the show is like being a forty-year-old going into the waiting room of a 1st year resident proctologist, closing my eyes and imagining I am anywhere else; or tricking my mom into taking me to see a Cheech and Chong movie. The experience is cheap and dirty and not something I would openly share with acquaintances. For others it may be a faint holiday memory of your Dad dressed as Kinko the Clown coming down the chimney and err, well maybe a memory you’d just assume to forget. It is so personal and wrong on so many –levels and for so many reasons, but when the jokes hit you, they hit you hard. I woke my wife up a couple of times to my tear-welled wailings.
Who Should Watch It
Fans of experimental theater and comedy. This is not textbook stuff. If you even remotely liked SCTV or The Upright Citizen’s Brigade you will feel very much at home.
Because like the previously mentioned programs; they don’t just satirize the world around them - they reinvent it. And that is where many will have a problem with them. You are required to have the fortitude to suspend the conventional sitcom dribble and go along for their ride on their terms.
This is a show that takes risks and either swan dives into a perfect comedic wave or belly flops. You will not always laugh…but like a tilt-headed dog you will stare in wonder, look around and see if anyone else thought “that” was funny and then question yourself again.
For The Literary Minded
The theater of the absurd attempted many things. But at its heart was the idea that the audiences’ reaction was as central to the performance as the piece being presented. And Tim and Eric Awesome Show is a contemporary example of this device. You can tune them out like a Beckett play, but you’ll pay patron prices later on for the experience in the form of collected season DVD’s.
Things and People to Look For
Brule's Rules with Dr Steve Brule: Played by John C. Reilly.
Uncle Muscles Hour: Hosted by Weird Al Yankovic.
Cinco Corp: A clueless commercial conglomerate that produces worthless products and services. One sketch features Ed Begley Jr. in an infomercial for the Cino-Fone.
Bob Odenkirk: who makes appearances in a variety of sketches.
Having finished their third season, the fourth season is scheduled for February 8, 2009. Look for it on Cartoon Network. (15-Minute Episodes)