If you think a review of this show is somewhat futile, that’s because it is. What I should do is string a series of irrational, disparate words and images together in an animated GIF with some elevator music underscoring it and give it a fancy title like “Linko Candy’s Tin-Can Tattoo Review.” But I don’t know how to use photoshop or anything, so here are some normal words to describe a most abnormal night. Bear with me, chi chips.
Tim And Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! (TAEASGJ!), for those unversed, is without question the most innovative sketch comedy show since Mr. Show left the air over a decade ago. In each 12 minute episode, there is more derring-do than an entire decade of SNL put together. Marrying elements of meta-comedy, cable-access camp, surrealistic camera and foley editing, and a roster of slapped together characters with hideous wigs and costumes promoted from only the worst of thrift stores and failing costume outlets, Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim are, to some extent, geniuses. They are also, to some extent, stupid. They distort comedy beyond the abrasive or gross or uncomfortable to a style that is unparalleled and untouchable. TAEASGJ! relies, as much as new comedy does, on short sketches with abrupt abortions of jokes and bits, extended gags, and irony so thick it’s nearly impenetrable.
Photo by Meghan Brosnan
And therein lies the genius/stupidity of the live Chrimbus Spectacular. If I were to say “Well, that bit fell kind of flat”, who’s to say that wasn’t their intention? If they fumbled a joke or a line, or complained the audience was yelling too much during the show, how am I supposed to know that’s not all part of it? Tim and Eric have such an amazing shield of irony that anyone who says “I don’t get it” looks like a fool. But in looking back, it’s not about getting it. It’s not about anything. It’s Tim and Eric, ya dingus.
An example of a perfect blend of genius/stupidity was the opening sketch, with the duo playing two narrators of the Chrimbus Story. Like some bad Sonny & Cher-esque Christmas special, the two sang the Chrimbus song dressed like what Liberace would wear jogging. The bit lasted about 10 minutes, they threw packages of dried shrimp into the audience, took a bow and left the stage. The house lights came up, the roadie started cleaning up the stage, and Creed’s “My Sacrifice” served as exit music. While I lost my shit and the audience laughed, David Liebe Hart, one of the most hapless idiot savants of comedy and a reoccurring guest on the show, came up on the screen and alerted us the show was, indeed, not over. The most solid sketch of the show.
Photo by Meghan Brosnan
Also outstanding was Pusswhip Gangbang, the, I guess, house band of Tim and Eric. Their acid-rock songs that closed out the evening were a great blend of nu-parody and genuinely good musicianship, which sounds naive, but trust me — it was a welcome relief to see the two guys actually try at something and commit to playing and entertaining. Their song “Jambalaya” injected some much needed energy that waxed and waned throughout the evening.
Which is to say, the show was unevenly paced and never built to anything of a climax. The form of the show was Tim and Eric coming out as popular characters from AEASGJ! Douchebag “sketch comedy LOL!” tv-show hosts Jim and Derrick showed up, Dr. Jimes Tooper and Dr. H. Donna Gust pontificated on the universe much like Carl Sagan would after burning a few down, and the duo expanded on their Blues Brothers 2012 pitch to a Chicago audience (thin ice, indeed). Interspersed between the sketches were scenes from their upcoming Chrimbus TV Special, airing on December 5th. These worked well to keep the audience’s attention while the two facilitated costume changes, but severely ruined the pace and the energy the show could build to.
And that is why TAEASGJ! works so well in tiny 12 minute spurts.The senses are bombarded for those short minutes and as soon as its over you feel like you’ve been molested, but in a good way. Like a hilarious molestation. The live show suffered from the lack of visual trickery and avant-humor antics, and instead played like a giant show with quotes around it. “Here’s our show and we think it’s funny but we’re going to pretend like it’s not so you think it really is and that’s the whole joke.” This is rarely present in the TV show but was irritatingly shoved down our throats at the Vic last night.
Tim and Eric have set the bar for humor, much like Monty Python did in the ’70s, but unlike Flying Circus and Mr. Show before them, Tim and Eric do their best work without having to manage the emotions of a live audience. Without the aid of A/V technology, quick transitions/abortions, and copious amounts of good-ass weed, the genius/stupidity of Tim and Eric is a bit muddled live.
But, even after all that, I have to give them credit for courageously going where no men of comedy have gone before. Shaky live show notwithstanding, Tim and Eric are still Awesome Show, Great Job! – and that’s the end!
Photography by Meghan Brosnan.
Note: This review was for the 10:30 show.
Gallery by Meghan Brosnan