Posted by Brett Hamm
18. Sep, 2012
|September 30, 2012|
Since exposing the world to their unique brand of humour with the animated series Tom Goes to the Mayor, Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim have gone on to unleash five seasons of the deeply, profoundly odd Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, a spin-off series starring John C. Reilly (Check It Out! with Dr Steve Brule), a feature film (Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie) plus those infamous ads for Absolut Vodka and Old Spice.
This September, Tim and Eric are going to let loose their antics on live Australian audiences for the first time. To mark the occasion, we chatted to Tim (the blonde one) about the appeal of disturbing people, why laughs aren’t the best judge of funny, and the impact their unique brand of comedy has had on the industry.
Brett Hamm: So how did you guys get started out in comedy?
Tim Heidecker: Eric and I went to film school together in Philadelphia, where we started making short films together — this is years before YouTube and all that kind of stuff. We started sending these tapes around and showing them at rock shows. We were never really in ‘comedy’ per se, but we were making funny stuff that we loved to make.
Eventually it got into the hands of some people who were able to help us out and we were able to make a TV show.
BH: I’ve heard you guys say in interviews before that laughs aren’t always the best judge of funny. What do you mean by that exactly?
TH: Well, I often watch things that are very funny and I don’t laugh. I might make a noise if I’m enjoying it or it gets my attention and it’s leading up to something and you laugh. Also I think about our show, being strange and uncomfortable, it might make you feel a certain way that doesn’t make you laugh, but it might… [shitty telephone connection garbles the rest of his answer].
BH: You cut out there a bit. I didn’t hear what you said at the end.
TH: Oh! Just you know, it’s probably not important anyway. [Laughs] I just mean that sometimes it might make you laugh the next day.
BH: I’ve heard Eric say—he was talking about season five of the Awesome Show—that “people are going to be very scared and very disturbed.” Do you think your appeal comes from the fact that it does disturb and leave a weird lingering taste in your mouth?
TH: Yeah, I think that’s part of the combination of what we do. I mean we’re fans of kinds of different genres, horror and sci-fi and we just try and combine those things into a hybrid and really just create a unique experience and not try to just make, not just totally go for laughs, but go for creating a vibe.
BH: Do you guys enjoy shocking people? Is that something you set out to do or is that just a by-product of what you do naturally?
TH: Yeah, I don’t think…we’re not in the business of trying to shock anybody. That’s not the most important thing for us. It just happens. I’m not really concerned about it. I think people should take it with a grain of salt. It’s a TV show and it’s not that important [laughs].
BH: So what’s the experience like taking the show into a live setting?
TH: Well it’s hard work, you know? But Australia’s going to be really fun because we’ve never been there before. And we’re excited to be there for the first time. It takes a lot of effort to get around, but people have a lot bigger problems than that in life. We’re grateful.
BH: What can the audience expect to find at the live show?
TH: They’re going to find we’ve put together a show that’s meant to be a live show. We’re not trying to replicate the TV show or anything like that. That would be impossible. But we’re trying to entertain and we’re playing to people we’re assuming are fans of the show, so there’ll be references to the show and characters from the show. It’s just a good time with a lot of yelling and singing, like a good ol’ pep rally.
BH: Do you find it liberating after making a feature film to work in a looser format?
TH: Yeah, it’s a completely different set of skills or like you use different muscles or different kinds of humour. I’m much more loud and obnoxious, it’s like a punk rock show. It’s a totally different kind of comedy than our show in a way sometimes. It’ll be fun to do that. It’s fun to feel an immediate reaction from an audience as opposed to sitting in an editing room with five guys who are sick of each other and the laughs are kind of sometimes forced—or not at all—and then just to tell a joke and get a thousand people laugh at it is pretty cool.
BH: What’s it like when you meet your fans? I can imagine you guys would inspire some pretty devoted people.
TH: Yeah. 80-90% of them are super cool, super friendly. You know, just cool and humble and we’re humble with them. One in ten might be a kind of asshole [laughs]. You know, who doesn’t understand boundaries and has issues or no respect when you’re taking your thirtieth picture. Those kinds of things can get tiresome. Like when I was a kid, I never thought much about sticking around afterwards, you know what I mean?
It’s a thing about fan culture, like they need to have this picture on their wall. Okay, but what about just your memory of it? That can be cool to, you know? I mean we will be around, and we love to. It is cool to go after the show and get one-on-one with people. It’s kind of neat, especially when you’re in a foreign country. That’s kind of cool for us that we’re so far away from home and people still get what we’re doing.
BH: Do you ever find that there’s an expectation for you to be “always on” when you meet people?
TH: I don’t really let it bother me. I think people are expecting us to be a couple of real weirdos and real clowns, but you can tell from the conversation that I’m not like that and Eric’s not like that either. I don’t think you could be very successful and be like that.
BH: Do you think comedy has got the capacity to change the way people think about things, socially?
TH: Our stuff?
TH: Oh. I think some people have thanked us for showing them a different way to think about comedy, or those kind of things—like we’ve provided them with a different perspective on things. So I guess in that way, sure, we’ve influenced things. You know, there’s the negative influence of people who try and go out there and replicate what we do and kind of don’t achieve it. But I think, yeah, you know, in a small way we’ve put a little notch in the timeline of American comedy and hopefully a positive one.
Tim and Eric Awesome Australia Tour, Great Job! Also, Zealand hits The Forum on 29 and 30 September.
For tickets visit ticketmaster.com.au.
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