Chairman Wow!

October 7, 2009

In defense of Tim and Eric

Filed under: Uncategorized — Carly J Hallman @ 11:51 am

tim-and-ericAbbot and Costello. Cheech and Chong. Harold and Kumar. Funny duos have long been generators of a wide variety of reactions from hysterical laughter to irritated eye-rolls to outrage to outright confusion. And Internet-pranksters-turned-Adult-Swim-stars Tim Heidecker and Eric Warheim are no exception.

With their two Adult Swim (Cartoon Network) shows, the now-defunct “Tom Goes to the Mayor,” and the in-its-fourth-season “Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!,” these old college buddies have accumulated an audience of thousands of dedicated fans and perhaps thousands more just-as-dedicated naysayers.

Awesome Show, Great Job! is a televised trashcan-punch of original, poorly-produced infomercials, hokey jingles, outlandish news segments, etc. to which naysayers say, “Nay!” But they also say, “I don’t like weird for the sake of weird,” and, “I just don’t get it!” (Un)fortunately, there is no authoritarian entity that can dictate to us what is or is not funny. As the old saying goes, humor is like Arkansas– it’s all relative. But, in response to those naysayers, and in defense of Tim and Eric, I have this to say (yay!):

I was born in the mid-eighties and grew up in the nineties (when Tim and Eric attended college and began developing their brand of comedy). The pre-WWW boom nineties, if you recall, was a media age of poorly produced infomercials, hokey commercial jingles, that big purple dinosaur, and low-budget news/lifestyle shows. Then the Internet came along and digital technology came along and special effects came along…and my, oh, my how we’ve grown! Back then, technology was not advanced enough to be a tool like it is today– it was still a toy.

That said, picture this:

There are some toy blocks on the floor. These blocks are not normal cube-shaped blocks with letters or numbers printed on them. They are hideously colored, misshapen, oddly textured, smelly, and in sum, ugly pieces of junk.

Now, the typical comedian would walk into this room, pick the blocks up from the floor, and began pointing out all the ways in which these toys fail to resemble normal blocks. This is comedy’s status quo– sketch shows a la Saturday Night Live do this, observational comedians from Jerry Seinfeld to Chris Rock to Dane Cooke do this, everybody does this. And that’s funny. And that’s fine.

But, picture the same room with the same blocks. Tim and Eric would walk through the doorway, pick the blocks up from the floor, and rather than simply makes jokes about the blocks, they would begin constructing an ugly, yet elaborate, block tower. You see, Tim and Eric have built something else, something absurd, something ridiculous, something always teetering on the verge of collapse…something that, if not always laugh-out-loud funny, is even at its very worst moments, interesting.

Tim and Eric paint comedy’s outsider art. They mud-wrestle Andy Kaufman’s soul. They are the scary, raw (but often startlingly delicious) sushi your friends are afraid to order from the menu. They can be experienced in all their glory (and I use that phrase fully aware of its two contrasting connotations– greatness and nudity) on

1 Comment »

  1. I saw this article right after I read yours.

    What you wrote is better and I kinda think this article I’m linking to exemplifies the worst tendencies of PopMatters–the po-faced grad student tone, way too long, the critical theory vocab, taking something really really seriously and sucking the fun out in the process [I think you prove here that taking something seriously need not suck the fun out]–but hidden in the midst of the academic talking points about how the show is ~angrily anti-capitalist~ is a much more interesting point: T&E showcases “a more complex level of humor that exposes the juvenile impulses that drive a lot of so-called adult behavior.”

    Comment by hoosteen — October 8, 2009 @ 8:27 am

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