Adult Swim is home to some of the oddest and most unique television shows out there from things as thought provoking as Home Movies and Rick and Morty to things like Aqua Teen Hunger Force and Clown Hospital. All the shows seem to have one thing in common: they are not for the mainstream television viewer. One show that definitely is not for the mainstream viewer is Tim and Eric’s Awesome Show Great Job. Just watching the introduction to this show for the very first time the viewer is going to be overwhelmed with many images.
At first glance the show seems like complete chaos and no thought was put into it. However, just like things like pop art there is a lot of thought and some deeper ideas under the surface of the show. The thing that made me first fall in love with the show was watching a lot of it at once. As I did I started to understand the humor. Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim have created this type of anti-humor that has never really been done this way before. They use amazing editing and new technology to give the show a feeling of being very high quality even though the acting at first glance is not. The acting was done this way on purpose to try to recreate the feeling of watching cable access and to give it their signature anti-humor feel. There is also a lot of fine detail put into the camera work and the special effects of the show to give it their unique touch.
Another thing Tim and Eric’s Awsome Show does that most shows do not is hire a lot of no name actors and very famous comedians so you get this mix of people who have never been on TV before and really would not be on any other show. For example, this guy He is David Liebe Hart and he has only been on Tim and Eric’s Awesome Show and other Tim and Eric projects. Then there are big name actors like Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis and Weird Al who you instantly recognize but they are doing this deadpan odd comedy that has never been done quite like this before. For the more well known actors, they must have enjoyed doing the show simply because they say the amount of greatness and potential it had. The show it’s self had a very low budget and the actors wouldn’t be getting their usual pay, however they still participated because they must have found some greater value in doing it. This alone made the show more appealing for the viewer because everyone is there because they love the project.
A single episode is broken up into a lot of short comedy bits. One second you might be seeing a commercial for this terrible product that the writers came up with and then a short music number by another actor. It is constantly changing but in each episode there is one little story that gets told throughout that had somewhat of a beginning, middle and end. A lot of the characters for the short bits have ongoing stories through the seasons and the viewer gets to see them change and grow. This gives the viewer something to watch for and forces them to remember previous episodes which has some great pay offs. However, it is not so important that a new viewer can’t just jump in anywhere in the series. All the recurring characters have the same costumes as they wore in the previous sketch to help the viewers identify and remember them from the previous episodes. The overall thing that keeps all the shorts together is the idea that it is Tim and Eric trying to recreate the oddity and hilariousness of cable access that they grew up watching.
When looking at reviews on things like IMDB and other websites you will see the person either loves it or hates it. Everyone who loves it says the same thing about the people who hate it: that they just don’t get it and it’s true. This show makes the viewer work for the laughs and makes them look at comedy in a new way. According to The Believer magazine back in 2008 “A show filled with hair snacks and too-tight shorts may not sound all that hilarious on the page. Off the page, maybe even less so. But the secret to Tim and Eric’s comedy is in the details. It’s not so much what their characters are saying, but the vacant look in their eyes, the extended silences, their clumsy attempts at sincerity. Even at its most bizarre, there’s something very human about Awesome Show’s cast of eccentrics and weirdos. There’s a frailty behind the madness that only becomes more evident the closer you dare look.” Under all the weird there is something there that is different and brilliant. Many times when something is new people don’t get it right away. The same thing happened to Tim Burton when he made Frankenweenie at Disney but look at how successful and beloved his films have become. Right now Tim and Eric are not the typical style of comedy but maybe at some point their shows will become better understood and get a larger following.
Tim and Eric’s Awesome Show Great Job has been a creative and one of a kind show. Sadly, it’s no longer on the air. Luckily they have continued to make more shows like Check It Out which is a spin off of one of the characters from the Awesome Show. Also, their studio, Absolutly, has been creating a lot of shows like Comedy Bang Bang and The Birthday Boys which are on more mainstream television stations. Even though they don’t have as big of a hand in making these shows, they still have that Tim and Eric feel to them just a little less so its more tangible for the mainstream viewer. Tim and Eric have even gotten money too do odd commercials for companies like Totinos which are reminiscent of the Awesome Show. I will leave you with this food for thought.