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Tim & Eric did The Civic

As the lights dropped at the beginning of Friday’s show at New Orlean’s Civic Theatre, audience members were met with a question.

“What are Tim and Eric gonna do this time?”

The question was jokingly posed in a mock video interview by Tim Heidecker, half of the show’s headlining comedy duo, Tim and Eric.  However, it was also the question of the night for the packed house of the tandem’s adoring fans.

Tour Poster

Tour poster

The groundbreaking duo, comprised of Heidecker and Eric Wareheim, has been making comedy since they met at Temple University in 1994.  Their work includes hit Adult Swim series Tom Goes to the Mayor and Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!  They have received wide critical acclaim and an extensive cult following.

Describing and classifying Tim and Eric’s unique brand of comedy is a hopeless task.  Anti-humor, absurd, satire, surreal, camp, dead-pan and gross-out are all apt but only begin to describe the duo that frequent collaborator, tour-mate and Academy Award-nominated actor John C. Reilly described as “ahead of their time” to Vanity Fair. However, a few things are true of everything Tim and Eric have done: “They are not afraid to chase a joke all the way down," Reilly added. Nothing is off limits.

After loyally following a career built on poop jokes; absurd fake products, such as tobacco juice and candy-coated horsehair; songs titled “Shrimp and White Wine” and a style that is mostly inspired by public access television, audience members had every right to sit with anticipation in the darkened Civic Theatre and wonder what Tim and Eric had in store for them. What unfurled over the course of the nearly three-hour show was an unclassifiable experience that only Tim and Eric can create.

Friday’s show could be divided into three parts. Following the opening video which also had Heidecker saying, “It almost doesn’t matter how good the show is” and promising a fully improvised show, the duo essentially opened by bombing. Their attempt at improvising fell apart quickly and, before long, they were yelling at the audience, walking off stage, returning, apologizing, offering complimentary meals at the fictional Mr. Dang’s Chinese restaurant and declaring the end of the show, all within the first 5 minutes.  The pair then launched into their first song about how they had “pranked” the audience.

The second part of the show consisted of a collection of absurd and unpredictable live and video sketches that fans have come to expect from the duo.  This included a video piece from their new show, “Tim and Eric Bedtime Stories,” which had debuted the night before on Adult Swim.  The video starred Bob Odenkirk as a doctor who removed patient’s toes and secretly ate them.  Other standout moments included a convention for the recurring company, Cinco, where Tim and Eric unveiled Grum Soda, a spicy energy drink for children made of tar, nicotine and pepperjack cheese.  Also a part of the section, evangelist characters Skott and Behr led the audience in worship of their idol Rang Dipkin with chants of “Hoo hoo haroo, Rang forgives you, I forgive you.”

The final part of the show brought Reilly on stage as his beloved and likely-brain damaged character, Dr. Steve Brule.  Brule spent well over an hour bringing the audience into a world that fans have come to know through three seasons of Adult Swim’s “Check it Out with Dr. Steve Brule.”  He detailed his life, claiming he was from “New Orlangs” and aired a pilot from his rejected show, “Bag Boy.”  Brule’s section peaked as he brought members of the audience onto the stage for a Human Treasure Hunt and a section on Health.  Dr. Brule, whose medical specialty and qualifications have never been disclosed, performed an exam and slow danced with one of the audience volunteers.  The epic show came to a close with Brule proposing marriage to the audience member and Tim and Eric returning as the characters Jan and Wayne Skyler.

A spectacle like the one delivered by Heidecker, Wareheim and Reilly is more easily experienced than described.  But, even so, audience members leaving Friday’s show couldn’t help but ask themselves, “What just happened and why did I laugh so hard?”  And as they exited through the Civic’s beautiful walkway onto the street, they also couldn’t help but excitedly add, “What are Tim and Eric gonna do next time?

James Hamilton is a writer, comedian, performer, and producer based in New Orleans.  Email him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter @oldjoytree.