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The Tim and Eric Awesome Interview, Great Job!

Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim are the duo responsible for the inspired lunacy that is The Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great...


Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim are the duo responsible for the inspired lunacy that is The Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! An absurdist comedy showcase that scathingly satirizes the entertainment industry (and, probably, the entirety of modern life), their mad creation pushes boundaries and busts guts with its mix of bizarre characters, lo-tech psychedelic effects, and thoroughly brilliant-if cringe-worthy-nonsense. Considering how flat-out strange each episode is-shifting from sketch to sketch in a stream-of-consciousness manner while maintaining something of a narrative thread (think Mr. Show on a sugar high)-Tim and Eric has attracted some pretty notable guest stars. John C. Reilly, Rainn Wilson, Jeff Goldblum, and a who's who of comedians have lent their talents to the Adult Swim hit, which boasts a particularly devout online following. A typical skit might include anything from a news report on indigestion to an attempt to thwart Colombian terrorists in a sugar factory to an explanation of the mysteries of the universe. This is comedy created out of wild, wonderful experimentation, and it's no cliche to say that there is simply nothing else like it. GOOD: There's a zany, surreal element to what you do-what is your process for constructing that chaos?ERIC WAREHEIM: Well, there is a method to it, somewhat, although there is experimentation and improvisation. But we do what other shows do, we have writers meetings and we develop ideas that work for the show. We also have great editors. Our editors are completely part of the process. They're with us in the writing room; they help us evolve things, give suggestions. If we're shooting a crappy sketch, we just cross our fingers and hope the editors can salvage it, and usually they'll make it brilliant. These guys are all artists. We didn't want to work with real editors-we wanted people that knew the technical aspect, but could bring their own flair to it, they're own special talent.TIM HEIDECKER: We always have some idea of what kind of style a sketch is going to be in and that sorts of dictates the effects the editors put in afterward. But oftentimes we won't have a very clear idea at all and we just shoot a lot of stuff and let the editors take a crack at it, and most of the time they'll zone in on something great.G: Can you talk a bit about how that style of working evolved for you?E: We met at film school and then made lot stuff together with no money. We came out to L.A. as interns, then left pretty quickly afterward and just kept making stuff with no money that we thought was funny. L.A. is a very sad and scary place if you're just working your way up a ladder. There's any number of shitty jobs that can get you on a film set, but a lot of them are about the same as working at Starbucks. Technically, you're in the "movie industry," but really, it's about as far away as handing out lattés. That wasn't the way we wanted to happen. So we stayed away from L.A. until we had something really happening out here. Now it's great to be here. We were trying on our two-man horse costume today and that was when it really seemed great to finally be out here. Because where the else do you get a two man horse costume within minutes?G: So your comedy evolved, to some extent, out of necessity or limitations?E: Definitely. We're not cartoonists but our first show was a cartoon. We didn't really like cartoons; we just wanted a way to get the comedy out there. You can do grand ideas, explosions, and action, all on the cheap with cartoon. In a lot of ways the stuff we make now looks the same as we did in college. We like that aesthetic, the kind of cheap AV effects. And while we do experiment with different methods and visuals, at the same time we always are keeping the core of what the comedy is-what the joke is-intact.T: Basically, we like to do what is interesting to us, while being careful not to say the same joke twice, or repeat ourselves. The good thing is, people have responded to the show enough that we're able to keep doing this, to keep doing what we do. We have to keep a sense of spontaneity and experimentation going, because that's really what keeps the show going. And we're working with people who luckily have the same mentality and the same sense of humor. There's no one out there who's like, "I want to take this Tim and Eric thing and put it in a box and sell it to the masses." The other thing is that we've set up an expectation to constantly be breaking new ground and creating insanity. So at some point we're going to disappoint somebody.E: Luckily, I don't think we've run out of ideas yet.G: Well those ideas and that sense of humor are certainly gaining a following. What kind of person do you think responds to the show? Who is your typical Tim and Eric fan?E: They're pretty diverse, actually. It's nice, when we do the live shows, there's this really warm feeling in the room. Everyone is like, "You like this too?" People relate to it, and then they relate to each other. I think a lot of people use it as a relationship device. They pop in the show, and if their date doesn't like it? That's it. They're out. They must not have the same weird quality necessary for a relationship to work. So the typical fan is hard to describe. There are you're typical super nerds who dress up as your characters and give really sweaty handshakes. Every once in awhile a cute college girl will show up, but mostly, to be honest, we get a lot of sweaty hugs and handshakes.Photo by Pamela Littky. --Tim and Eric accounts for roughly 86 percent of all lost productivity at the GOOD offices. Here's a totally non-definitive list of our five favorite sketches. (Warning, something in here will almost certainly offend someone.)1. Dr. Steve Brule, for Your Wine2. Ukulele Phone Prank 3. Tairy Greene's Acting Seminar for Children4. I Sit on You5. Reasonable Shirts
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