At the Lincoln Theater last Thursday, Tim and Eric came on stage wafting incense burners, chanting in prayer, “Praise Hosanna, Praise Rang, Praise Hosanna, Praise Rang.” They took the pulpit as Skott and Behr, two talk show ministers who cast stones at the other’s failings while preaching far from the fold of any organized religion. The sold-out audience recognized the characters from Tim and Eric’s comedy universe and fell immediately under their charisma, rising to give homage to Hosanna and then kneeling to honor his prophet Rang Dimpkin, an unremarkable balding man.
If you had, on a whim, decided to drop in on the Lincoln Theater, you would have found yourself bewildered and pretty soon offended. The audience showed no such looks, only willing devotion to the new, strange comedic religion proselytized by Tim and Eric.
Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim’s nationwide tour is a celebration of sorts for a comedic partnership that, since their last tour a decade ago, has spawned several successful TV shows on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim (Tom Goes to the Mayor, Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, Check It Out! with Dr. Steve Brule), a movie Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie and the recent debut of Bedtime Stories, a mock-thriller sendup of the Twilight Zone.
In their television productions, the duo tap into the tropes of public-access television, creating characters hilariously inept for primetime. The result is a bizarre form of entertainment where TV fails magnificently in its stated purpose: to competently entertain.
Whereas their TV shows thrive on awkward exchanges, missed beats, off-camera angles and jokes with no punchlines, Tim and Eric have tweaked the shtick for their live act, exchanging subtle editing for force of personality. Acting later as the entrepreneurial brothers, Mark and Terry Cinco co-owners of the second-rate goods conglomerate Cinco Inc., Tim and Eric whipped the crowd into a salesforce frenzy. With all the pomp and circumstance of an Apple product release, Mark and Terry moved magnetically about the stage making big claims about their new offerings which included a beef re-hydrator designed to turn all of your beef jerky into filet mignon and a children’s energy drink, Grum Soda, that lists as ingredients nicotine, tar and spicy cheese. The saccharine infomercial veneer with which Tim and Eric deliver their pitch to the attendees at Cinco-con sealed the deal completely.
While Tim and Eric’s outré humor has the potential to alienate, they do manage to collaborate with mainstream comedic talents like Will Farrell, Will Forte and John C. Reilly, whose character Dr. Steve Brule formed the second half of the live show. A doctor of questionable accreditation, Steve Brule hosts a television show Check It Out!, where he educates audiences on topics like planes, horses and skateboards. Reilly plays Dr. Brule as a madcap mumbler with fork-in-socket hair who is ill-fated, half-literate and somehow pretentious.
Just as his television show often strays from its intended topic, Dr. Steve Brule’s live performance held a loose outline of biography, where Brule answers the question Who is Me?, and audience participation. Leading failed games of musical chairs (there were too many chairs) and organizing a wedding to his longtime crush Jan Skylar, a news anchor played by Tim, where he is ultimately left at the altar, Reilly as Brule conducts a three-ring circus with himself performing as ringmaster, clown and the flying trapeze artist that falls flat on his face.
As both comedians and shock-mongers, Tim and Eric aim for a gut reaction and most of the time it just so happens to be a laugh. Newcomers to Tim and Eric will either become converts to the sect or leave scratching their heads after the live show while zealous chippies will never have laughed so hard.
New episodes of Tim and Eric’s Bedtime Stories air on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim Thursdays @ 12:15 AM. Check it out, yah Dingus!