If you’ve ever watched an infomercial because you thought it was funny, or sat in awe of a bad public access TV show, then the singular comedy universe of Tim and Eric is right up your alley. All of the shows the duo has created for Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim late-night programming block (only one of them a cartoon) have been obsessed with the marketing of crappy products, the use of outdated technology and the performances of wildly untalented people. And last night at the Town Ballroom, Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim shared their latest stage show with a packed-to-the-rafters crowd of folks who had already taken deep draughts of the T&E Kool-Aid. If you haven’t seen their video announcing the tour, watch it now, and understand why my wife and I had been counting down the days until we could see it.
Mainly, this was a promotional jaunt to support the guys’ upcoming holiday show, airing Dec. 5 – the Tim and Eric “Chrimbus Special” – so the set began with a blast of twisted, fake holiday cheer. Tim and Eric took the stage wearing their gloriously hideous Chrimbus outfits, a mix of horrible wigs, bronzed skin, bedazzled vests and boob-high green pants that make them look like frightening, super-sized oompa loompas. The first skit centered around Eric’s refusal to get Tim a Chrimbus present, after Tim had already spent $279 on a car stereo at Circuit City for Eric’s gift (it lets you set your six favorite FM radio stations!). The bit’s mix of innocence and insanity was an ideal beginning for a night of comedy that was about fostering a sense of community more than anything else.
There’s a quality to the duo’s signature show, Tim and Eric Awesome Show Great Job!, that inspires fanaticism, and it’s not just the funny characters and catchy, silly songs. This is comedy with a language all its own – freakish, unibrowed babies are “chippies,” fathers and grandfathers are “pep peps,” the term “for your health” has taken on monumentally hilarious connotations. If you watch Tim and Eric and “get it,” you’re more than a viewer. You’re part of something.
So while this show featured jokes about getting your balls drained, a body suit with flopping genitalia, and a brilliantly sloppy closing set by Tim and Eric’s band Pusswhip Banggang, the pervading attitude was childlike, not childish. When the duo hit the stage to promote their “new movie,” Blues Brothers 2012, they talked about the film’s sponsor, Terminix, more than anything else. Which set the stage for a song that laundry-listed random American brand names, ending with a shout out to The Arizona Jeans Company – “I need my ‘Zona Jeans!” It wasn’t exactly satire, nor was it raunchy, or slapstick – it was silly, random, obsessed with being unstylish, and permasmile-inducing. In other words, pure Tim and Eric.