Tim and Eric were a surprise success. Their bizarre and unexpected style of humour was a huge hit around the world with the TV show Tim and Eric, Awesome Show, Great Job lasting five seasons, which was followed by Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie.
Featuring guest appearances from Will Ferrell, John C Reilly, Marilyn Manson, Weird Al Yankovic and many more, the show became a cult hit not only with the fans, but with their peers as well.
Australian fans were elated to find out that the duo are heading to the great southern land in September and October. Details of the tour can be found at the bottom of the page.
Half of the duo, Tim Heidecker, called Noise11’s Tim Cashmere from his Los Angeles home to chat about the greatest how on Earth, the planning behind making comedy seem unplanned, David Lynch and the benefits of selling deodorant.
Tim Cashmere: You’re coming to Australia. What is it you’re expecting to see down here? Have you been down here before?
Tim Heidecker: No, we’ve never been personally there at all. Not once. Not in any way. So I’m excited to just experience it. I’ve got a friend who has been there a number of times, so he’s going to give me an itinerary of things I should do, so we’re going to be pretty busy and we probably won’t have as much time down there as we’d like, but I hope to experience it as much as I can.
TC: I guess that’s the whole thing about touring, you never get a chance to have fun?
TH: Yeah you’re usually pretty tired when you’re not doing the show, and homesick, so you want to just kind of lie around, but I’ll try and experience the sights and sounds of Australia.
TC: This has been billed as “The best live show on Earth”, which is quite a statement. How do you plan on actually living up to that?
TH: Well that was a report generated by the United States Department of Entertainment and that was the conclusion that they reached, that it was the best live show on Earth. It’s not official – the UN doesn’t recognise that – but it’s official US policy. All we do is do what we want to do. We do the show that we want to do and put our hearts and minds into it and really go for the gold and time after time we succeed.
TC: It’s just the two of you on stage; there are no singers and dancers, right?
TH: No, we do the whole show. It all comes from us. We give 135% and there’s no turning back when you give that much energy. There’s no need for anybody else.
TC: Throughout the TV show and the movie, editing is such a big part of the humour that you have. How do you transfer that to the stage?
TH: Well we obviously don’t try to do that, it’s impossible, but I think there are certain rhythms and repetitions and things that we kind of emulate that. We try to put on a real live show that is full of singing and dancing and lights and music. It’s not supposed to be a replication of the show in any way. When we go out the back doing costumes we’ll be showing videos and stuff, so you’ll still get that. It’s definitely not going to feel like a stand-up show or some kind of traditional comedy show. It’ll be more spectacular than that.
TC: Awesome Job, Great Show lasted way longer than what anyone was expecting. Throughout those five years, did you feel the need to change your style?
TH: I think we naturally changed in a way because we grew and learned more and ensured in a way – not in a traditional way – but we became more considering and by making the show figured out what we wanted to do, but we were never ever thoughtful or conscious about trying to change what we wanted to do for us or anybody else.
TC: There is something that feels completely and utterly random about everything that you do, but was there ever a point where you were actually just sitting there generating this comedy at random, or is it more planned out?
TH: Well I don’t really understand the “random” term. I think everything could be considered random and it just depends on context. Everything we come up with is something that we think is funny. I don’t think it’s random.
TC: Random might not be the best word. I’m trying to say “unexpected”, but I think “unexpected” kind of understates it a little bit and “shocking” overstates it.
TH: We have certain rules that are kinda basic. Try to stay away from pop culture, try to stay away from politics and then it became just whatever else made you laugh. Whether it was stuff about diarrhoea, there were certain notes that we hit more than other notes, but we just didn’t use that adjective to describe our work as we were creating it. We just did what we thought was the right thing to do. There was no time or money to debate the style of the show; we were just trying to make each other laugh.
TC: When it came time to make the Billion Dollar Movie, did that put pressure on you to come up with 94 minutes worth of gags?
TH: Well we took our time writing the script and once we figured out the kind of movie we wanted to make, then it was easy, or at least it was not as hard to write it all out. We had way more than we could ever shoot at one point. We had too many ideas to shoot, but sometimes having ideas isn’t necessarily the problem, it’s sort of figuring out how you’re doing it or why you’re doing it or which idea you should do over other ideas. We figured out pretty early on what the movie was going to be about, so the rest of it just fell into place.
TC: Of course you brought back all of the side characters in there, were you trying to include everything?
TH: I don’t think we could necessarily, but we had a priority list of people that we thought were essential and then we filled it out. We realise that we couldn’t do it all. We couldn’t put everybody we wanted in the movie, it wouldn’t work, it wouldn’t make sense to do that, so we did our best with the hope that we would make more so we can go back to that well. I think we just like to work with the people that we want to work with and we felt comfortable doing that.
TC: When I first discovered Tim & Eric, like many other people I was a little overwhelmed and wasn’t sure how to feel about it, but a friend suggested I think of David Lynch films while watching it and I know you have mentioned him before. What kind of non-comedy influences go into your work?
TH: David Byrne is a big influence on me. Just the music of the Talking Heads and the movie True Stories and his whole persona. You know, Kurt Vonnegut. There are a lot of artists and writers and filmmakers like Robert Altmann, people who just saw life as absurd and were a little bit sceptical of the way things were being presented to them in general. We both went to film school and we both have a love of cinema that goes way outside of small local comedy.
TC: You do have something else in common with David Lynch – you have both directed ads. I’m talking specifically about the Old Spice ads. When they came to you, did they say, “Do what you want”?
TH: No, they come to us with an idea or storyboards and generally they’re writing with us in mind or they’re thinking of stuff like… I don’t know how it is down there, but if you watch TV here a lot of people these days are influenced by our style and we’ve started to think “We might as well get paid. If we pass, they’ll get somebody else to make it and it’ll seem like we made it.” I’m sure David Lynch would agree with this, but it’s certainly not our first priority and it’s not something we’re very passionate about at all, but it’s not incredibly difficult work and it certainly gives us a little bit more freedom to do our real project and not worry too much about paying the rent.
TC: It might make you feel good to know that I saw an interview recently with David Lynch and he said almost exactly that when someone asked him about a Gucci ad.
TH: Oh good. I think everybody that works on those things feels that way, from the DP to the ad guys; nobody wants to be selling deodorant. Who ever woke up in the morning and wished that upon themselves? But it’s a fairly pleasant experience and Terry Crews is a lovely gentleman to work with and you work with nice people and you have a nice lunch. What’s really strange is that some people seemed to react to that than some of our sketches. It certainly gets more views and more attention, so if we’ve had the opportunity to supply the world with something strange and weird instead of a guy looking in the mirror putting deodorant on his arms, then I guess it’s not a total loss.
TC: You also have a band called Heidecker and Wood. You released an album in 2011. What made you turn your hand to that kind of music?
TH: Well it’s the kind of music that Gavin [Wood] and I were into. He also makes the music for our show and scored the movie and that kind of thing. We took it as the kind of side thing that was fun to do. We had a couple of songs that were in that style. They weren’t funny enough to be in that show, but they were just in this weird… well they were funny, but we wanted to make the music as good as possible. It was also a way of learning recording at home and that kind of thing, so eventually we piled up these songs. Eventually we thought we’d want to put this out, so that’s what we did. We’re making another album now. It’s just fun to make music and it’s a very natural thing to do. I also don’t think I have anything important to say, so instead of writing serious lyrics, my first instinct is always going to be to try and make people laugh, so the lyrics are going to be sort of subtly fucked up and weird.
Tim and Eric Awesome Australian Tour, Great Job! will hit the country in September. Dates are:
29 – The Forum, Melbourne, VIC
2 – Metro Theatre, Sydney, NSW
4 – The Tivoli, Brisbane, QLD
Tickets will set you back $69.90 and will be available at 9am, Friday 22 June (that’s tomorrow – or today, if you’re looking at this tomorrow!)
Check out some highlights from the TV series and other related stuff below: