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Comedy

Inside Tim & Eric's Company, Which Is Pushing the Boundaries of TV Comedy

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Thu, Oct 3, 2013 at 5:00 AM
click to enlarge The Eric Andre Show begins its second season on October 3 - ADULT SWIM
  • Adult Swim
  • The Eric Andre Show begins its second season on October 3

Back when Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim were working on the second season of their quirky, animated series Tom Goes to the Mayor, the duo launched their own production company, Abso Lutely, with business partner Dave Kneebone. "We wanted to control as much as we can of the process," Heidecker recalls on a recent trip to the studio's Hollywood headquarters. "It started from that, producing our own stuff."

Of course, Heidecker and Wareheim's reputation has increased vastly since the days of Tom Goes to the Mayor. Their follow-up series, Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! was a hit on Adult Swim that ran for five seasons. They toured and released the feature Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie. Abso Lutely grew too.

"We've cultivated this style of doing things," says Heidecker, adding that they've worked with a lot of the same editors and other production pros over the years, some of whom started out with them as interns. Their unique brand of comedy attracted more than just viewers, it made Heidecker and Wareheim sort of go-to guys for cutting edge TV.

"I think there's definitely a thread with most of the shows that we've worked on," says Heidecker. "There's a sensibility that's similar. Absurdity. People trying to do something different from what you normally see."

They worked with John C. Reilly on the Awesome Show spinoff, Check It Out! With Dr. Steve Brule. Abso Lutely also had its hand in Jon Benjamin Has a Van, starring the actor best known for his leading roles on Archer and Bob's Burgers, and Comedy Bang! Bang! with Scott Auckerman and Reggie Watts. Abso Lutely, essentially, works with folks who are a little outside of the mainstream, people who are pushing the boundaries of televised comedy.

"This is a good business model for us. We've got the facilities. We've got the infrastructure built," says Heidecker. "We can help people that used to be in our position make their shows." That includes The Eric André Show and Hot Package.

See also: Tim Heidecker: L.A.'s Driest Wit

This Thursday, The Eric André Show enters its second season on Adult Swim. The bizarre spoof of late night talk shows features comedian André as a brash host interacting with, and possibly unnerving, guests, his co-works, the audience and random people on the street. "I think it's more interesting to watch a completely incompetent talk show host making guests uncomfortable," says André.

André, who is influenced by shows like Space Ghost: Coast to Coast and The Tom Green Show, started out as a musician. He took up an interest in stand-up comedy while studying at Berklee College of Music in Boston. He left music, ultimately selling his bass to swing a move to Los Angeles.

The talk show idea had been ruminating in André's head for a long time. Since he didn't think that people would respond to the written concept, he opted to direct it himself and got some help from a few co-producers. "They had these cool vintage cameras and we rented out this abandoned bodega in Brooklyn," he recalls. "We filmed it there." Unable to afford editors, André taught himself Final Cut and spent a year piecing together the footage. He then sent a six-minute clip to a slew of networks. "They all passed on it," he says, "except for Adult Swim."

The show's first season was filled with "a lot of trial and error," according to André. But, there haven't been a lot of changes in the series. The new episodes are still jam-packed with bizarre behavior and awkward moments. "It's always best when we take the guests out of their comfort zone," says André. "That's the highest stakes stuff and the most interesting stuff to watch."

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