I hate when anyone tells me I’ll love something. From music to movies to people to parties, they’re always wrong. I don’t know why they bother. Inevitably, the whole thing ends up unpleasant because I feel no obligation to pretend they’re right or find anything redeemable in their recommendations—well, most of the time. I once conceded that I kind of like figs.
One of my best friends recently told me to watch the superbly titled Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! on the Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim schedule. The weird thing is—considering the abstract insanity of the show—he’s not one of my formerly drug-addled friends. He is, however, an unusual guy who once made a list of things he considers to be “junk”—one of which was, inexplicably, tigers.
Adult Swim is currently broadcasting reruns of the purportedly awesome show that, like most of their lineup, airs erratically in the odd hours of the morning when kids are either asleep or stoned. The creators, Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim, may return for a sixth season, and they’re reportedly developing a movie version.
Some of Tim and Eric is quite funny—like the unassuming mattress salesman who dreams of his head exploding and getting his arms ripped off while fighting a blood-covered demon—but most of the show’s content encompasses surreal hiccups and spurts of post-modern drivel. It’s television’s equivalent of trying to make your crazy dream interesting to somebody else: “I was driving—no, I was riding a ladybug and then … well, I can’t remember.”
The editing of Tim and Eric feels like a rap video directed by 12-year-old boys after discovering zoom and loop functions. The public-access film quality is partially the point—they aren’t attempting to out-shoot Scorsese. It’s just that the result is so rarely funny—a condemnable badge of mediocrity when you consider that the show is only 15 minutes long. That should make it go by fast but doesn’t. The merciful length mitigates the anguish that attends sitting through an episode, but every time I watched one online, it seemed like about 45 minutes—and then, each time, I later discovered that they were actually five-minute segments from full episodes.
The Dana Carvey Show, which was allowed a mere eight episodes by ABC before it was canceled in 1996, was very strange but also very funny. It was full of incisive satire and pure nonsense, but the nonsense served a purpose. In one skit, This Week with David Brinkley is broadcast from a roller coaster. George Will, played by Carvey, spills a barf bag on himself. It’s one thing to satirize the absurdity of news programs trying to attract young audiences by putting a panel of journalists on a roller coaster—it’s another thing to just put nipples on a fork or whatever.
But here’s what's great: The proliferation and variety of media outlets these days assures that anything has a chance of finding an audience and lasting beyond a few weeks. If Tim and Eric can succeed, anything can.
I’m going to get right on pitching a show about the dream I had last night. I was camping with Grover Cleveland—no, wait. First, I was in a big garage trying to find a bathtub, but it … hang on … It wasn’t a bathtub—it was an oven full of elbows, I think. Anyway, they turned into lactating cats and started chasing me with … something like a tire or a huge shoe or a sleeping bag full of shame, I don’t know … but I couldn’t fly more than five feet off the ground, and then I got hungry or something.
Whatever. It’s going to be an awesome show.