Grotesque Goodness: Tim and Eric

If you’re a fan of Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim lineup (and if you’re not you probably should be) you may have run across Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! late night on Sundays. I have to admit, I mostly ignored the show at first, allowing it to languish on my DVR (it’s on after Metalocalypse).   Then, urged on by a friend with similar comedic tastes, I started to watch…

The show is grotesque humor at its finest, and by that I mean the literary grotesque–which depending on your pov is either high, high praised or the final insult. On Tim and Eric you get fifteen minutes of live action (not animated) sketches, songs/music videos, and commercials, all loosely tied together. It works because Tim and Eric, who feature prominently in nearly every sketch, have no compunctions about any of the bizarre, disgusting, embarrassing, characters or situations they come up with. It’s a total commitment (as any sketch player will tell you it should be), but they seem able to take it further somehow. I mean, look at these guys…

Part of what’s working for them is you don’t really want to see them in a spandex unitard, or in drag again, and yet you can’t really look away. These two seem to relish the role of anti-cool, anti-acceptable, of so much of the self-important entertainment industry mindset…

A lot of the sketches reference bad local access TV programming and other half-assed shows many of us will remember from the days when cable/satellite was young. Obviously Tim and Eric spent a lot a time in front of the tube growing up, like Jim Carey’s character in Cable Guy. They have inverted public service hygiene videos, the whole married couple on local news thing, commercials in the SNL tradition, and bizarro music videos. There’s a lot of other stuff that sort of defies easy explanation (and logic).

Many of the sketches don’t really end, they just lead into the next one, and maybe we come back to it later. Sort of Pythonesque. Each episode is sort of loosely tied by a title theme (like ‘Abstinence’, ‘Forest’, ‘Coma’, etc.), and you get special guest appearances by folks like Jeff Goldblum, John C. Reilly, Weird Al, and Fred Willard.

What it all adds up to is funny: surreal funny, embarrassing funny, grotesque funny. You can check it out yourself at the Adult Swim website, where many episodes are available for online viewing, their MySpace page with many clips, or else just stay up late on Sundays or set the ol’ Tivo.  One word of warning, however:  some folks will doubtless be offended by Tim and Eric, or simply fail to get it or find it funny–which of course makes the whole thing even funnier.

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