Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!
Starring Tim Heidecker, Eric Wareheim
Warner Home Video
Release Date: August 4, 2009
In the past six months I’ve watched two full seasons of Adult Swim’s live-action sketch series Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! and I’m afraid to say the show is growing on me. Each episode runs barely twelve minutes and the individual skits usually wrap up around the one-minute mark, but there are still more laughs per capita in a single episode of Tim and Eric than in an entire season of Saturday Night Live.
Unlike most sketch comedy series show creators, Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim know the limits of the idea that drives each sketch and never wear out its welcome. While I often laughed hard at the show, it took me some time to really understand what it was all about, but now I do. Tim and Eric Awesome Show has more of a Canadian comic spirit than an American one. Each episode plays like a compilation tape of highlights from shows broadcast on some strange alternate universe version of a cable access television station staffed by a freewheeling collection of misfits and miscreants hopelessly convinced that they’re not engaging in amateur night theatrics. The influence of classic Canuck cathode comedies like SCTV and The Kids in the Hall can be seen in every episode and with each season the show continues to improve. The writing and performances continue to wallow in the wildest off-the-wall ideas the show’s cast and crew can conjure up, but as evidenced in several episodes there’s an increased confidence in their willingness to go completely for broke with their ideas.
Last season ended with Eric killing Tim all over an embarrassing baby picture. The season opener begins with Eric willing Tim back to life to find his friend now has the ability to create tiny tiger statues out of his body, so the two decide to go into business selling the statues. That’s just the beginning. Awesome Show‘s usual cast of suspects have returned including James Quall with more bad celebrity impressions, David Liebe Hart singing a song about milk, and Richard Dunn as the host of a amateurish talk show. Speaking of celebrities, Tim & Eric have enticed a cool collective of showbiz adventurers to indulge in the on-screen insanity, including a few familiar faces. In fact this season the show has managed the Herculean feat of bringing on every member of the Comedians of Comedy. Patton Oswalt has his head superimposed on the body of a child. Maria Bamford hosts a show that offers helpful tips on cleaning up after your cat. Zach Galifianakis as temperamental acting coach Tairy Greene teaching oddball acting techniques to a class of kids. When Steven Spielberg desires to make a big-budget Hollywood adventure movie based on the Spaghett character (a strange person from a hidden camera show whose gimmick is scaring the holy hell out of people, played by Heidecker), Wareheim is left out in the cold only to be replaced by the more well-known Brian Posehn, whose physical resemblance to Wareheim is striking similar.
As they say in those late night infomercials, the Awesome Show is so fond of parodying, but wait there’s more! Ed Begley Jr. shows up peddling a cell phone made by the fictional company Cinco that has only one button and causes second degree burns. Former Sopranos goombah Steven Schirripa lends his prestigious name to a product called My Eggs, which gives people the ability to lay their own eggs just like a chicken. Ray Wise, old Leland Palmer himself, hosts a priceless instructional video on how to give proper hugs in a professional environment. Actor/comedian Bob Odenkirk, of Mr. Show with Bob and David , plays a relationship expert in a skit. James Quall gets a movie made of his life story with Bill Hader of Saturday Night Live and Superbad playing Quall. Hader’s fellow SNL alum Will Forte appears twice during the season, as the host of a quilting show whose own quilts depict the details of his traumatic childhood and a doctor for a bone clinic with a frozen expression of placid happiness. But the biggest name to guest star this season is also the same person who has been an integral part of the Awesome Show since its beginning, and that is the great John C. Reilly (Magnolia, Talledega Nights) in his recurring role of Dr. Steve Brule, Channel 5’s resident expert on subjects he doesn’t fully comprehend (such as making panini sandwiches and getting a date for the prom). Decked out in a Larry Fine wig and eyeglasses with lenses that look like they were made out of stained glass, Reilly goes all out with his performance as Brule and unless you were already familiar with his past acting achievements you would probably not recognize him at all. His masterstroke is giving Dr. Steve a vocal quirk where he sounds like he has to lash every word he says onto a single breath for fear it may be his last. At this point Reilly should be considered a full member of the cast because his every appearance makes the show all the more enjoyable.
As they say in those cheeseball late night infomercials Heidecker and Wareheim are fond of parodying, but wait….there’s more! One episode is devoted to celebrating one hundred years of….Jackie Chan? They even made a spoof commercial for a game called It’s Not Jackie Chan, which (in another of the show’s trademarks) has a very unusual and amusing ending. A sketch called Sexual Romance, which has Tim carrying on an affair with Eric’s incredibly hot (and underdressed) wife and comes to a violent conclusion all set to the tune of a R & B song, seems cut from the mold of R. Kelly’s “Trapped in the Closet” videos. A biology class is taught to male foreigners complete with stick figure drawings of erect penises and a musical number about getting a chubby. Television pitchman Dick Dousche peddles a special douche made just for men. Tim and Eric hold court on a talk show about zits and burps. A commercial advertises for a business that specializes in renting out child clowns, and each clown comes with their own carrier. Tim and Eric plays cops who ride around dispensing justice on recumbent bikes in a spoof police drama called “C.O.R.B.S.” The Beaver Boys find themselves forced to choose between a sexy double date and consuming mass quantities of their favorite food and beverage, shrimp and white wine, until they puke (guess which one they choose). You’ll find all this plus plenty of gratuitous violence, general weirdness, and….balloons. Lots of balloons. Plus brownie-induced dreams of mountains made of more brownies.
The two best episodes to be found in this season pay scathing yet affectionate tribute to telethons and youth-targeted programming that pretends to be hip and trendy. If I wasn’t aware that I was watching Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job I’d be convinced the “Jim & Derrick Show” was one of those many ADD-afflicted attempts at appealing to a younger generation whose lifeblood seems to be Red Bull you could find being pumped out of the MTV assembly line. It’s silly but eerily accurate when you put it up against the multitude of like-minded shows that have been polluting the airwaves since the late 1990’s. Actress Elisha Cuthbert (24) even makes a guest appearance for an awkward with the trendy swag-and-corporate logo-decorated hosts and musician John Mayer appears briefly in a parody ad for a putrid energy drink called Turbo Fuel that contains lead and induces vomiting. The season finale devotes its entire length to a mock telethon with the goal of raising money to replace the bones of Richard Dunn, hosted by raspy-voiced kids show icon Uncle Muscles (Weird Al Yankcovic) and featuring guest appearances from singing manchild Casey (Heidecker) and Jan and Wayne Skylar (Wareheim and Heidecker), Channel 5’s famous married newsteam.
The DVD for the third season is packed with good extras and is technically solid. Each episode is presented in a decent fullscreen frame that comes through strongly on most regular television screens with robust Dolby 2.0 Stereo and Dolby 5.1 Surround soundtracks. English subtitles are also provided.
Extra features are slim but provide a good deal of additional fun. A 12-minute reel of deleted scenes consisting mainly of scene extensions kicks things off. As usual the blooper reel (7 minutes) is mostly Heidecker and Wareheim cracking up behind and in front of the camera. There are also 2 minutes of original promotional spots.
Extended versions of the “Muscles for Bones” episode (21 minutes) and the “Gettin’ It Dunn” sketch (11 minutes) round out this selection of bonuses. Running a full ten minutes longer than the broadcast version, the extended “Muscles” features more musical acts and additional bits with the hosts. “Gettin’ It Dunn” is just more of Richard Dunn trying to be an amateur talk show host. Both extended versions were cut down for a good reason but they make worthwhile extras.
The third season of Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job is a solid set of mind-bending lunacy and joyous comedy that’s best watched individually, or if you’re feeling brave in one brain-melting two-hour marathon.