At its worst, Tim and Eric Awesome Show
tilts more towards boring than funny, even when that’s what they’re going for. But at its best, Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim defend themselves through dead-on satire of what they’re not: corporate comedy. They first took the stage of Boston’s Wilbur Theatre as their parallel-universe sketch show, The Jim and Derrick Show. While Tim and Eric could only be on Adult Swim, Jim and Derrick might fit in on MTV or even S.N.L.: they’re too busy plugging their sponsors, being “bros,” and trying to go viral to actually be funny. The flashy video editing tries to make up for the nonexistent comedic substance.
This joke works on Awesome Show
and onstage. Then they tried to do it again. The entire third act had Tim and Eric signing on to play the Blues Brothers in a third movie, the whole money-making scheme sponsored by bug spray. It could have been a hilarious play on the selling-out of S.N.L., but turned into a sketch as bad as that show at its worst: one joke stretched so thin, even Tim and Eric’s fans start to yawn. We get it, there’s not supposed to be substance, but how far can you go without it?
Meanwhile, in Tim and Eric’s “standard” world, the community access hell hole Channel Cinco, they need that substance to make up for the nonsensical writing, awkward delivery, and godawful video production. The tour’s first and third acts had them selling out. The second marked a return to Channel Cinco and two favorite characters: two self-proclaimed experts on the spirituality of the universe who are full of it, but still get a TV show. Sigh of relief. This marked a high point for the show, because for once, they weren’t becoming what they were parodying.
Enter Pusswhip Banggang
, Tim and Eric’s hippie jam band which closed the show with a lengthy set of favorite songs from Awesome Show. Suddenly, they literally became parodies of themselves, becoming a bad band, beyond making fun of one. What started as ten-second clips of fake songs on Awesome Show became long jams that quickly went from funny to boring and obnoxious.
Alas, we finally know why Tim and Eric only do eleven minutes at a time on the tube: on a good day, those minutes have their moments, moments that would be squeezed dry if stretched to fit S.N.L.’s time slot. Don’t get me wrong, I like these guys, just not nearly as much as the dedicated fans who packed the Wilbur. For them, two hours of Jim and Derrick, the universe, Casey and His Brother, “Petite Feet,” and “Sports” made the night. The more casual fans can’t fathom the concept of that kind of time: for the die-hard fans, it’s really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really fun. But fans like me wouldn’t want to put it in a tube.