Imagine yourself back in middle school imagining a future in which you will get to hang out with your Best Friend Forever, extending into chronological adulthood that golden moment between childhood dumbness and pseudo-sophisticated teendom -- that time of pranks and projects and of humor as a substitute for self-confidence. Imagine furthermore that someone will pay you to hang out, so that other people may watch you hang out, and that when the girl you would have liked to have called you "cute" or "nice" wrote in your yearbook "To a really funny guy," she was without knowing it writing you a job recommendation.
That will give you something of the flavor of the work of Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim
, whose 2004 Adult Swim series "Tom Goes to the Mayor”
led to their present Adult Swim series, “Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!,”
a rapid-fire olio of skits, digital manipulations, weird songs and cartoons lathered in suburban anomie. The show returned Feb. 8 for the second half of its third season, the same day the duo ended their third national live tour. (Tim and Eric have known each other only since college, but the middle-school principle still pertains.)
You might call them the Halting Voice of a Certain Segment of a Generation, those children of the '80s raised in the Dawn of the New Media, whose now-crude video effects and computer graphics form the basis of the Tim and Eric high-gloss, homemade aesthetic. Their material is designed to create discomfort. More than a little of it involves bathroom humor, in the strictest sense of the phrase (one repeating bit features a talking cartoon Porta Potti). A lot more of it is just weird (the pair wreck a basement rec room, chanting "Oooh, mama!" while a large woman looks on from the stairway). And there is a distinct air of sexual confusion.
Success has led to new avenues: a CD of songs from the series, with appearances by the Shins, Aimee Mann
and Built to Spill; directing videos for MGMT and Ben Folds
; creating spots for Absolut Vodka; mounting a shadow campaign of online videos seemingly made to promote the third "Shrek" movie; and so completely ironic as to seem an actual endorsement.
And, of course, they have taken their "Awesome Show" on the road: the 2009 tour took in 25 cities, to mostly sellout crowds.