Posts Tagged ‘tim and eric’

John C. Reilly Is Giving One of the Best Performances in TV Comedy Today

July 29, 2016

It starts with the character’s look. Reilly’s physical appearance has always served him well as an actor. There’s something about the combination of his large frame and round, expressive face that makes him look not so much tall as overgrown, like a child stretched to adult proportions. This gives him an air of vulnerability that belies his size; it lends pathos to his dramatic performances, like the sad-sack cop in Magnolia, and a goofball naïveté to his comedic turns, like the fake music legend in Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story.  It’s how a guy who’s six-foot-two can sing the ode to interpersonal invisibility “Mr. Cellophane” in the film adaptation ofChicago and earn an Oscar nomination, or pair up with the relatively diminutive Mark Wahlberg in Boogie Nights and come across like a natural sidekick.

In these strictly physical terms alone, Dr. Steve is his magnum opus, the idiot man-child he was born to play. Wearing a brown suit that’s at least two sizes too small, teasing his curly hair to fright-wig proportions, twisting his mouth and squinting his eyes to give his face a vibe of permanent confusion, Reilly leans into his quirks as Dr. Steve.

I wrote about how John C. Reilly’s turn as the title character on Check It Out! with Dr. Steve Brule is one of the best dang performances in TV comedy today for Vulture. I’ve been saying it for years and I’m so glad I got the chance to obsess on it publicly.

Vic Berger IV Is Vine’s Strangest Political Satirist

January 7, 2016


Fallon doesn’t want to offend. I am sure he is the nicest guy, and would be super fun to hang out with, but his show appears to be this platform where anyone can come on and paint themselves however they want to appear. My annoyance with him started with Chris Christie constantly being on there, dancing around and doing his dumb skits about how much he loves Springsteen. Christie is such a gross and horrible person. I worked for a decade for the state of New Jersey and can truthfully say he’s done way, way more harm for the state than he’s done good. And the whole shutting down of the bridge bullshit? He denies it all, and then the next thing you see is him on Fallon making light of it and singing a song about it or whatever. Fallon lets these terrible people saywhatever they want. Not that the host of The Tonight Show needs to be a hard-hitting journalist getting to the bottom of things—it’s just that if he’s going to have these people on, at least have some point of view. Don’t just laugh nervously about it. I mean, one of his questions to Christie was, “Heard you hung out with the Romneys! So how are the Romneys? They’re all awesome.”

The other thing about Fallon that drives me crazy is how he will have a guest on and then bring out an iPad and try out some app with them. It’s unbelievable. There are segments where there’s like 30 seconds of him staring silently at an iPad wearing earphones. I’ve made a few Vines using those moments.

Over at Vice I interviewed the brilliant, brutally funny video editor Vic Berger IV, Vine’s strangest political satirist, about his five muses: Jeb Bush, Donald Trump, Chubby Checker, Jimmy Fallon, and Jim Baker.

The Phantom Fame: “Space Ghost Coast to Coast,” Secretly TV’s Most Influential Show

October 7, 2015

The new age of late night has dawned. Last week, Trevor Noah took over The Daily Show, the slaughterhouse in which Jon Stewart EVISCERATED liberal bugbears on a nightly basis. This comes just after Stephen Colbert crawled out of character to occupy the throne vacated by David Letterman. And this is just the latest of the seismic shifts that have made television — broadcast or broadband, cable or streaming — the medium of the post-millennium.

The Sopranos started it all, or so the legends say. The canon of shows that launched TV’s postmillennial renaissance begins before HBO’s mafia masterpiece, of course: Twin Peaks paved the way, and David Lynch has been cited by countless showrunners as the John the Baptist to David Chase’s Jesus Christ. Tony and Carmela’s own network already had a breakout hit in the form of Sex and the City, which proved that people would tune in for original programming on channels that mostly aired movies. The Wire and Deadwood cemented the prestige drama’s place on the small screen. Arrested Development, meanwhile, created a parallel track, establishing the single-camera sitcom as the “prestige comedy” format of choice, while The Daily Show made similarly Peabody-worthy waves in the talk-show format.

But all the while — long before, in fact — a shadow revolution was under way. For this sea change, space was the place. Few people afford Space Ghost Coast to Coast, Cartoon Network’s strange, seminal comedy, its rightful place in the pantheon. But from its bargain-basement launch in 1994 to its place at the center of the wildly popular Adult Swim lineup in the 2000s, it helped introduce cringe comedy to the American viewing public, deconstructed the idea of the talk show beyond repair for a generation of comedians, and changed the look and feel of the entire animation art form.

I wrote about the strange history and pervasive influence of Space Ghost Coast to Coast — and Adult Swim, the network it spawned — for Grantland.

Going Weird: An Interview With Tim & Eric About Their New Cult Satire ‘Zone Theory’

July 7, 2015

What was it like going from live action—film, TV, live shows—to a book? How did you translate what you do?

Heidecker: It’s sort of this mixed blessing with Adult Swim where whenever we make stuff for them, it’s their property. Whenever we do something outside of that world, we have to start fresh again. You can’t just recycle stuff. A lot of people would put out a guide to Awesome Show Cinco products or something.

Wareheim: Yeah, we could easily have done a chapter on Business Hugs.

Heidecker: So this was a challenge. You have to start clean and make stuff up from scratch, which is ultimately more satisfying. There was a period where we thought it could be a hybrid of a real story about us that then it turns into this thing, but it just felt more fun to keep it wide open. Zone Theory is so general that you can cram any idea in there and make it work.

Wareheim: It was definitely a new learning experience, but at the core of it, it’s a somewhat similar process, creatively. One of the greatest parts of this is Tim and I getting together and having lunch, laughing about how we were gonna structure this thing. It’s sort of like doing a Bedtime Stories or a movie: “Here’s what we have to do to get enlightened, here are all the steps,” and then we’d go off on our own and write a little bit.

Heidecker: It was a blank slate: ”You guys wanna write a book? Let us know what you wanna write about. It could be anything.” It could have been the history of Tim and Eric, or our guide to being a dad. That was the hard part: focusing what we wanted to do, then populating it with enough jokes and ideas that it felt like something you could sit with for more than ten minutes. Making sure it went somewhere, had a point of view, that it was its own universe and not just total nonsense.

Wareheim: We knew we wanted to have a visual style that’s similar to some of the TV or video elements. We knew we wanted to work with the same designer [Duke Aber] who’s done all of our DVDs and posters. His design is like a character in the book. It really stands out.

You can also show a giant two-page spread of a penis in a book, which you can’t do on a TV show. I got to that part and thought “I’m so happy for these guys! They can take it as far as they want!”

Wareheim: [Laughs] Besides the penis thing, it’s not that much further.

The penis kind of stands out.

Wareheim: Absolutely. We were hoping for that. With that particular thing, I talked to our graphic artist about it. We can’t legally take a penis off the internet, and he didn’t want to photograph one, so he molded that penis out of all these other penises so that it can legally exist. Just that we made some poor guy do that is great.

Heidecker: It also was meant for to you open up the book to that page and go “Gahhhh—they did it again, those assholes!”

I interviewed Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim about their Scientology-inspired new book Tim & Eric’s Zone Theory for the New York Observer.

The Horror of Adult Swim

December 19, 2014

The most terrifying television show of 2014 debuted without fanfare at four in the morning the other day, and like the dead lady in The Shining’s Room 237, you had to pass through layers of comforting illusion to uncover the horror within.

Unedited Footage of a Bear starts out as just that: a static shot of a big brown bear, soundtracked by the cameraman’s whispered enthusiasm about the critter’s size (and, for some reason, his ears). After thirty unassuming seconds, an equally innocuous ad for what looks like a prescription allergy medication starts up, with all the usual tropes. A loving but harried mom in a bucolic suburban setting lives in an adenoidal fog, unable to attend to her plucky rugrats, until some pharmaceutical magic wipes away the haze. It’s soon clear this isn’t the real deal — the kids are too shrill, the mom too sickly, and the side effects too numerous for this to be anything but a parody. After all, this is Adult Swim, Cartoon Network’s nighttime block of largely bite-sized shows for adult audiences with the audiovisual munchies. Riffing on commercial culture is what they do.

But before you can say “Happy Fun Ball,” the music slowly fades out, the mother’s smile cracks and fades, the yellow police tape of a crime scene looms into view, and the nightmare begins. What follows is eight minutes of pure dread, involving menacing phone calls, crazed doppelgangers, terrified children, attempted vehicular homicide, an ear-splitting soundtrack, and the most harrowing portrayal of psychosis this side of Titicut Follies.

If that bait-and-switch sounds familiar, you’re likely one of the millions of people who caught Too Many Cooks fever a few weeks back. Like Unedited Footage and saccharine drug commercials, TMC took an overfamiliar airtime-filler, in this case the opening credits of a late-‘80s sitcom, and slowly skinned it alive. Lurking within the corny comedy is a machete-wielding killer who stalks his countless castmates through their credit sequences, and eventually remakes TMC’s tv-reality in his own dark image, as if his evil is strong enough to warp the videotape used to capture it.

Too Many Cooks became a viral sensation, and put Adult Swim’s “Infomercials” initiative — an entire series of satirical stand-alone short films by a variety of AS-associated writers and directors, all of them dropped on unsuspecting viewers in the small hours without so much as an official slot on the schedule — on the map. And it cut to the heart of one of TV’s strangest secrets: Adult Swim, Cartoon Network’s live-action stoner-comedy block, is making great horror on the regular.

I wrote about Unedited Footage of a Bear (the scariest TV show of 2014), Too Many Cooks, Tim and Eric, and the new wave of Adult Swim horror for the New York Observer.

Works cited: Twin PeaksMarble HornetsThe Philosophy of Horror by Noël Carroll, Pim & Francie by Al Columbia, and Sam Peckinpah’s Salad Days.

The 40 Best Cult TV Comedies Ever

May 8, 2014

“31. ‘Mystery Science Theater 3000’
Sure, they did it out loud in front of a big screen (or at least their silhouettes did) back then while we do it now by livetweeting the latest episode of Scandal. But in a twist stranger than any of the countless B-movies they watched, MST3K – in which a human and two robots watched bad movies and made fun of them the whole time — basically became our culture. Not bad for a show that started out on a local Minneapolis TV station, though keeping the microscopically low budget and cosplayers-at-a-comic-con aesthetic was a brilliant move; the low-rent feel is part of the charm. The later schism between hosts Joel Hogdson and Mike Nelson has caused almost as much intra-nerd strife as Kirk/Picard or Edward/Jacob — still, we’ve all put our faith in Blast Hardcheese.”

I helped write a countdown of the greatest cult-tv comedy series ever for Rolling Stone. It was fun!