Tim, Eric and the War on Humor

    Case in point: “Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!,” the surrealistic sketch show/prolonged nightmare and brainchild of creators Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim. Wrongfully dismissed as yet another ADHD stoner-gag exhibition in Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim lineup, “Awesome Show” is a landmark not only in cult television, but the dawn of a new kind of humor altogether — one that insists on doling laughter, confusion, anger and terror in equal measure.

    Call it stubbornness, but I was never one to turn fanboy for any one fad (except, I’ll admit, a three-year dedication to “Weird Al” Yankovic in middle school). And when I first experienced “Awesome Show” — the cast of off-the-street weirdos, John C. Reilly as disturbed anchorman Dr. Steve Brule — I was entertained but hardly addicted.

    Yet, the more Tim and Eric I casually consumed, the more difficult it became to resist. Their bizarre musical numbers, invented holidays and public access commercials all shone with a brilliant new set of comedic standards that television had been somehow missing altogether.

    But, as is the bitter pill of any cult follower, the glaring judgment poured in from all sides.

    “Random” and “disgusting” became dirty words, spat from the ignorant mouth of the non-convert. And while a couple of lawless teens sticking it to the man by eating their own boogers in a musical PSA may not be an attractive image, the latter accusation is particularly aggravating when you consider the shit that actually passes for entertainment.

    Take for example the episode of “Two and a Half Men” when the lovably perverted Charlie, after considering sleeping with a pregnant woman, proclaims, “Just because there’s a bun in the oven doesn’t mean I want to butter it.” The hasty laugh track is answered by the Pavlovian guffaws of some 14 million home viewers who all seem to ignore that the notion of ejaculating onto an unborn fetus is far more disturbing and morally reprehensible than digging for that proverbial gold.
     
    Granted, “Awesome Show” is designated for its target audience. But its sheer creativity is hard to dismiss while much of mainstream comedy television is beginning to resemble one long, Office-inspired mumblecore-like sitcom.
     
    If our tastes mature but never really change (of course “Weird Al” became an “Awesome Show” regular), Tim and Eric’s upcoming feature film, though propped upon a cast of big comedy names like Will Ferrell and Zach Galafianakis, will likely do nothing to change the face of mainstream comedy. But the devout will continue to celebrate the duo’s demented creations in the face of our unamused and therefore inferior peers, keeping alive what is so intrinsically our own.

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