Dallas — The destruction of American mainstream pop culture will be presided over by the comedic video duo Tim & Eric, the bastard love children of David Letterman and Wayne's World. It will be subverted, twisted and subverted again, mixed with liberal amounts of bodily fluids and defecation, and videotaped for your amusement.
Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim, the kings of Comedy Central’s Adult Swim comedy show, brought to the Majestic Theater on Thursday their latest incarnation, the surreal, absurd and deeply warped Tim & Eric's Bedtime Stories. An excerpt of the current episode was screened. Fair warning: it’s bloody. Do NOT let Bob Odenkirk anywhere near your toes.
Along for the ride was John C. Reilly, whose appearances as the bumbling Dr. Steve Brule in Tim and Eric’s prior incarnation, Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, garnered his own Adult Swim show, Check It Out! with Dr. Steve Brule.
Sketch comedy that was at once anarchic and tightly produced tumbled out for two hours, with sound effects and audio segues by DJ Douggpound, whose oversize yellow baseball hat had a mind of its own.
The large and laconic Wareheim and the amped up Heidecker amused with weirdness that the mostly under-40 fans in attendance responded to enthusiastically. Maybe too enthusiastically. Several times hecklers were shouted down from the stage with a “Get your own fucking show!” Even so, most sketches entailed recruits from the audience.
There were odd dance numbers in underwear and intentionally botched attempts at improvisation. We were indoctrinated into the cult of a dumpy guy named Rang Dipkin and participated in a service that required smooching the people sitting adjacent to you. We’re close friends now.
Video clips were plentiful, many showcasing Awesome Show characters that incited the audience to roar with approval. Smarmy salesmen Heidecker and Wareheim extolled the virtues of beef rehydration, male "bro-oche" pin-on jewelry, and Grum Soda for children with nicotine tar and peppermint jack cheddar cheese. Guest stars in the videos ranged from daft Micky Dolenz of the Monkees to comically dry M. Emmett Walsh, the actor.
High point of the video clips was a wicked on-screen destruction of American Idol as the apex of mindless, mainstream culture. In the Tim & Eric alternative universe, the worst sin is sappiness and Susan Boyle is the Antichrist. Believe them!
Energy picked up once Reilly as Brule arrived as the mumbly voiced, woebegone, absent-minded professor with perpetually askew glasses. He regaled with a biographical slide show and tour of Generictown that actually did give insight into his warpness.
Reilly’s graceful slapstick imparted echoes of his “Mr. Cellophane” song-and-dance man from Chicago, and his acting skills hinted at the pathos simmering inside. He was genuinely tender to an audience recruit brought up as an example of an “old as dirt” fan and gave her a spontaneous kiss.
As the good doctor, Reilly gathered eight audience members and made them play musical chairs, led them in a parade, and gave them health exams. (T-shirts with “I was groped by John C. Reilly” should absolutely be sold.)
Then Heidecker, wearing a blond Dutch-boy wig and crotch-cut wedding gown, bounded on the stage as Jan Skylar, the husband of the dying Wayne Skylar (Wareheim). Heidecker seemed to channel the manic, off-kilter spirit of Jim Carrey, and looked like him, too. Trauma-drama ensued. An adorable ponytailed young woman with psychedelic leggings was recruited as the new bride. Dr. Brule officiated. We all cried.
It was subversion as art and surreality as reality. Many facets of American culture were satirically skewered: consumerism, soap operas, religion, body shaming, entertainment, gay rights, beauty quacks and the vain women who frequent them. All in a night’s work for Tim & Eric, dedicated to keeping America on its toes in the weirdest of all possible ways. Dismiss them at your peril.
» Animated GIF of Tim and Eric above from giphy.com
» Video: Dr. Steve Brule gets a makeover by Maria Bamford. Then watch Reilly doing “Mr. Cellophane” from his Oscar-nominated performance in the movie Chicago, and compare. Mind blowing.