It’s not when Eric proudly tells Tim that he’s gone out and got himself a third testicle to give himself some extra pezazz. Nor is it when he fondles it to the sound of clinking billiard balls. It’s not when Eric complains of feeling sick and Tim diagnoses the third ball as having been sucked up into his stomach. Nor is it when Tim operates on Eric, trawling through his entrails, eventually diving into the wound in an unsuccessful attempt to locate the missing ball. It’s not when the duo go to Lamaze Class, so Eric can force the teste out of his rear. Nor is it when with Tim’s earnest coaching Eric successfully ejects it from himself, the force of the pressure bouncing it off the instructors forehead before ricocheting into the open mouth of Tim. It’s when they both shrug and say “okay let’s switch up,” that you realise how unbelievably wrong Tim and Eric Awesome Show Great Job Season 4 (Adult Swim/Madman) is.
It sounds like it should be cartoon, but it’s not. It’s live action acting like a cartoon. It’s the kind of stilted confused uncomfortable work that you’d expect on a community television show staffed by passionate but inept volunteers. It’s overacted, edited strangely with a reliance on cheesy fx and nonsensical gestures, possessing a kind of morally ambiguous weirdness that will just leave you hanging. Previous scenes get scrunched down and zing around the screen like a pinball before flying into the nose of a character from the next scene or at the wrongest moment they freeze the screen and the words ‘great job’ appear. It’s the ultimate stamp of approval. This means that it’s even gone too far for them, extending into a darker uncontrolled place where something might truly be wrong. Either that or it’s an admission that even they have no idea what’s going on. It’s a sketch comedy show with links to the surreal humour of Chris Morris’ Jam, but with the z grade gross out Americana slapstick of the American Pie franchise, then there’s these violently awkward absurdist moments that are really all their own.
Tim and Eric is also a soup kitchen for an asylum of randoms, outsider artists, or perhaps outsider people who’s eccentricities have made them cult figures on the show. Perhaps Werner Herzog is the only person who has come close in his desire to utilise real life weirdos in his films. Yet where Herzog to some extent has always felt a little exploitative Tim & Eric feel like a family. A family where the two daddies love smearing brown stuff over their faces, shoot testicles out of their arses and sing heartfelt songs about yearning for a women’s touch whilst staring deeply into each others eyes. But yes a family nonetheless. The kind of family where everyone is the weird uncle.
There’s also a gaggle of celebrity guests, again a bizarre assortment of the kitsch and cult, recent Australian visiter crooner Frank Stallone, Alan Thicke (Family Ties), Jonah Hill (the fat kid from Take him to the Greek), one of the guys from Flight of the Concords and of course series regulars like Zach Galifianakis (the bearded dude from the Hangover) as the nutty acting coach for kids, and John C Reilly who apparently has a spinoff series based on his Dr Brule character, a television MD dispensing quite questionable medical advice .
They’ve also used one of the episodes to get behind one of the most bizarre, deluded and unconventional filmmakers around Tommy Wiseau (The Room – currently playing the lateshow at the Nova), inviting him in to direct an episode. This in particular is one of the more ambiguous episodes. Throughout the series the freaks have to some extent felt in on the joke, hell most of the time they seem to be driving it themselves. But Tommy is so immersed in his own mad world that his presence feels somewhat exploitative, yet with Tommy you can never really tell. Once you’ve seen The Room you realise that his version of what’s normal and acceptable is very different to most. His presence on the show actually makes Tim and Eric seem, well, normal.