TV Criticism: Tim Heidecker And Eric Wareheim Interview

Originally published at TV With MeeVee as “Tim & Eric Awesome Show Great Job Season 2

If the long self-parodic name doesn’t tip you off, "Tim And Eric’s Awesome Show Great Job" is the sort of weird comedy that the Cartoon Network’s late night Adult Swim block is known for. Like fellow Adult Swim productions "Aqua Teen Hunger Force," "Venture Brothers," and "Lucy, Daughter Of The Devil," it’s a 15-minute production packed with offbeat humor, pop-culture references, and ADHD pacing. Unlike its stablemates, it’s a live-action sketch comedy with production values reminiscent of cable access TV from the 1980s. Yes, live-action on the Cartoon Network. Bear with me.

The Tim and Eric of the "Awesome Show" are Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim, and the pair have collaborated for years. They got their start doing sketch comedy they filmed and posted at timanderic.com before they were tapped by Cartoon Network for "Tom Goes To The Mayor."

I recently spoke by phone with Tim and Eric about their show, which kicks off a second season just after midnight on November 19th. I am impressed with the risks that shows in the Adult Swim programming block are able to take, so I asked whether they had any creative constraints imposed by the network at all. They said that aside from avoiding libel and obscenity laws, they tried to include at least one Christian message per episode. "Something Jesus would teach. It doesn’t have overtly out there, just a nice thought, like ‘do unto others.’"  As an example, Tim suggests the song ‘I smell my dad’s dirty socks,’ which is about the dangers of adultery.

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Tim and Eric claim that they included the Christian themes partly to appease Standards and Practices, who "look for four frown moments" in which a sin is frowned-upon in each episode, but mostly because they want their youthful audience to learn about righteous behavior. "I don’t know if you know any teenagers," Eric says, "but these kids are growing up to be whores, and we’re out there saying alright, let’s try and change that a little bit."

It was at that early point that I realized that the interview had gone entirely off the rails.

It turns out that talking to Tim and Eric is a lot like watching their show: A combination of confusion and laughter. I can’t tell if they’re being serious, or how serious they’re being. Am I going to laugh at their statements about helping children learn to respect marriage by having a married news team as recurring characters? Not without putting the phone on mute first.

Ten minutes later I’m on IM, asking my friends to look at the music video about sitting down to pee and tell me what kind of golden rule they’re talking about. They’re as baffled as I am, but can’t seem to stop watching. One favorite is the news team’s PSA about fruits and vegetables:

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For the rest of the interview, I tried to ask Tim and Eric questions with a straight face, and they revealed no strain at all in responding with totally deadpan, increasingly absurd answers. I did manage to get them to tell me that they are not WGA members and therefore not affected by the strike, and that they enjoy the 15-minute format partly because it gives the show a condensed feeling, but mostly because it’s way easier to produce a shorter show. That was about it for believable answers.

Towards the end of our conversation, Tim and Eric suggested I take a look at the book of John, Chapter 16, and after the interview, I did. It begins "These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended." I think that’s supposed to mean I got punked, but I shouldn’t take it personally.

The new season of "Tim And Eric’s Awesome Show Great Job" starts in the wee hours of Monday, November 19th on Cartoon Network. If you can’t stay up that late, you there are plenty of clips over at AdultSwim.com.

One thought on “TV Criticism: Tim Heidecker And Eric Wareheim Interview”

  1. I tried to watch these clips and got a message saying “Hello International Buddy, we can’t show these clips outside US borders…” annoying, but kind of funny.

    Like

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