“Here are the keys to good comedy: catchy song, ridiculous idea done in a unique style,” said Eric Wareheim, one half of the comedy duo Tim and Eric. He said this in reference to “Petite Feet,” a particularly popular bit from the series Awesome Show, Great Job! where the duo, wearing cowboy hats and hanging out in a pool hall, burst into song when they confuse the light footsteps of a man for those of a woman.
“When I watched it, I was like, we hit on all three cylinders on that,” Wareheim continued. “Some bits we don't. They're stink bombs. But, you aren't always going to get a hit, just like with a band.”
If you've ever seen the “Petite Feet” sketch, you know that it can be difficult to get the song out of your head. On November 6, at Club Nokia, where Wareheim and comedy partner Tim Heidecker performed it with their band Pusswhip Banggang, it was one of the highlights of the night, a tune we could still hear people singing (and sang ourselves) as we walked to our cars at the end of the night.
Right now, Tim and Eric are touring the U.S. with this year's Awesome Tour, Great Job! serving as a lead-in of sorts for the Chrimbus Special, set to air on Adult Swim on December 5. The live show mixes sketch comedy and rock performance, with Pusswhip Bangang taking over the second half of their set.
“It's a little bit of a con job because Eric and I get to pretend that we're rock stars and play for thousands of people every night when we don't really deserve it,” said Heidecker when we met at Tim & Eric HQ for an interview shortly before they left for tour.
“Why is that?” I asked.
“Because we're not a real band,” he answered.
We got into a brief discussion over what makes a “real” band. Heidecker finally conceded, “We are a real band, but this band would not be playing Nokia Live. They would be playing Dusty's Blues Bar or some shithole in Canoga Park.”
Heidecker and Wareheim used to play in bands back when they were in college. Now, when you see them on stage, you can tell that they know what they're doing. It's comedy for sure, but comedy done by people who have seen enough concerts in their lives where they can mimic rock star poses and arena show stage banter better than many who make their living solely from playing music.
“Music was always a part of our comedy at the beginning,” said Wareheim.
Heidecker and Wareheim first started working together as college students at Temple University.
“Personally, I wanted to be a serious, artistic director, like Jean-Luc Godard or Stanley Kubrick,” Wareheim recalled. “Then Tim and I met and we started making funny videos and making fun of film school. That's the first time I was like, I can actually do this other thing. “
“Before college, I always loved comedy, I always wanted to be in comedy, always wanted to be funny, and there was a bit of a stigma at Temple about being funny,” said Heidecker. “It wasn't really considered art, it wasn't considered true cinema. They were more interested in pushing a social agenda, you've got to be socially conscious, you've got to make things that are important, so they kind of discouraged you from experimenting with comedy.”
He continued, “Eric and I were naturally rebellious kind of outsider type people who didn't like to hear that and pursued our comedy anyways.”
Heidecker and Wareheim eventually found their footing with odd, sometimes low budget-appearing videos and TV shows. Following the Adult Swim animated series Tom Goes to the Mayor, they moved on to Awesome Show, Great Job! After five seasons, Awesome Show is a bona fide cult sensation, the sort of show that prompts extreme emotions from viewers. As we've seen repeatedly in comment sections when we've posted about the duo, there are detractors. But those who love the Tim and Eric, really love them.
“You're definitely going to get the uber-Adult Swim nerds and a lot of hipsters and a lot of band people, like the music scene,” said Wareheim of the their fanbase, adding that a lot of bands seem to watch Awesome Show DVDs while on tour buses.
“It's that kind of thing, if Eric and I just hung out in Silver Lake all the time, we would probably get recognized all the time,” Heidecker said. “There's a certain, like hipster class of people that seem to be drawn to the show.”
He says this as a matter of fact, without any sort of connotations hanging over the word “hipster.” Heidecker and Wareheim seem to be pretty good with their fans.
Every year, Heidecker and Wareheim throw AwesomeCon, a meet-and-greet party in a San Diego park near Comic-Con. If you see Tim & Eric on tour, you'll catch a glimpse of some of the photos from this event with fans dressed as various characters from the series or showing off related tattoos.
The roots of AwesomeCon are in a Comic-Con-adjacent event they threw back in the Tom Goes to the Mayor days called Tomicon.
“There was this core group of 100 people that we had personal conversations with and knew these people and kept in touch with them,” said Heidecker. “We think the whole thing is ridiculous, to have people who want to get your autograph, so it's been growing but it's growing at this nice steady pace where we can spend an afternoon with fans and it doesn't feel weird. These are people that we would probably get along with because we share a sense of humor.”
This year at Comic-Con, Heidecker and Wareheim surprised the press by showing up dressed as the Blues Brothers and carrying pesticide, telling us that they were going to be starring in a new movie from the franchise sponsored by Terminix. When we interviewed the team recently, we asked who came up with the idea.
“Tim Heidecker, definitely,” said Wareheim.
“It was an idea to do on a talk show, like Jimmy Fallon or something, but it was going to be more like we didn't know, we had never heard of the Blues Brothers before, but then we kind of strengthened the idea, added the corporate Terminix angle,” Heidecker explained.
“My house had just been Terminixed,” he said, “so I guess the thought was in the back of my head. It's just the worst product to be associated with, just like being associated with the Blues Brothers.”
Though we thought it was a one-off joke, the Terminix Blues Brothers has made its way into the current stage show, where the segment was met with uproarious laughter from the crowd.
When Wareheim mentioned that a “ridiculous idea” was an important element of comedy, he wasn't kidding. Their sketches and songs typically falls somewhere between weird and baffling (The Tairy Greene Machine?), but it works.
Those who have already seen the Chrimbus tour have a bit of an idea as to what the duo has in store for next Sunday's special. There are the bizarre costumes and dance sequences, the double entendres, the catchy songs and the sly commentary on what Heidecker calls “disgusting consumerism, products that only make life worse,” that seems to run throughout the series. It's wonderfully weird in a way that only Heidecker and Wareheim can imagine.
Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job: Chrimbus Special airs December 5 on Adult Swim. Check the schedule for times.