Laughter is the very best medicine and its been in TV since the beginning. A lot of early humor in shows was physical humor. Look at the success of The 3 Stooges and things like Tom and Jerry. Another great type of humor is situational humor like in the show Modern Family where the characters get caught up in a crazy situation and have to find a way out. A new type of comedy that has started to become popular is called anti comedy started by people like Andy Kaufman and shows such as Mister Show. This type of show goes against the grain of what is considered traditional comedy. One show that does an amazing job of this is Tim and Eric’s Awesome Show Great Job.
Awesome Show does follow some conventional storytelling elements that other shows use but it also uses odd and new techniques to make itself an anti comedy show instead of a typical comedy.
Each episode of Tim and Eric’s Awesome Show has an Aristotle beginning, middle and end that resolves itself at the end of an episode like most shows. A great example of this is episode 2 of season 2 called Dad Off. In the episode Tim and Eric play themselves being single fathers of large families. Eric’s family is poor but he spends all his time with them. At the same time Tim’s family is very rich but he is working a lot even when he is with his kids. The story that unfolds is that one of Eric’s kids really wants to be one of Tim’s kids because of the cool toys and other fun expensive stuff. This is not a new story but how they end it is. Instead of Eric’s kid learning that his father is better because he plays more attention to him Eric decides to let Tim adopt him and his whole family thus throwing a funny and creative twist on a common style of ending. This is obviously anti humor at work because it’s taking a normal story and it goes in a direction that makes no sense. A grown man adopting another grown man is just ridiculous. Throw that all on top of this acting that is done poorly on purpose and the shows anti humor really shines.
The introduction of of each episode of Awesome Show does some of the same things that most shows do like beginning with a cold open before the title sequence to hook in the viewer and help them know what this episode is going to be somewhat about. In the episode Dad Off, the introduction is related to the overall story involving the two families. In the cold open they are shown to be different in so many ways just in the time before the title sequence. The biggest thing that indicates the difference is the music. When Eric’s family shows up it’s light and happy music similar to a sitcom. When Tim’s family shows up it’s faster and more like an action movie.
After the two families are shown the title sequence music begins to play. Fast paced, over the top electronic music is played throughout. As the music is played, really overdone but hilarious, special effects overwhelm the scene. Images of Tim and Eric’s disembodied heads are shown with their tongues sticking out. On top of the tongues, we see Tim and Eric in a full body shot dancing. To tie all of this chaotic stuff together we’ve got CGI lazors going off with exaggerated sound effects. After all of this craziness is thrown at the viewer they hear a voice say “great job”. This is said by a different person each week to add some variety to the title sequence. They do use some traditional introduction techniques but their use of special effects and exaggerated sound effects make it hilarious and new. Even the fact that they use the normal stereotypes of the two families it’s so overdone that it becomes painfully obvious to the point where the viewer can’t help but laugh.
One thing that Tim and Eric’s Awesome Show Great Job does that a lot of shows don’t do is adding fake commercials and other short bits. One fake commercial they do in the episode Dad Off is for this fake company called Cinco. Cinco creates all these horrible products throughout the series and in this episode they make these things called thocks. Thocks are socks that kinda look like thongs.
According to the commercial these are for any man looking to show off and stay comfortable. In the commercial there are a lot of bad actors which just makes it even more funny because some of them seem to be trying too hard while others don’t seem to care at all. This makes it feel even more like a bad commercial for a bad product. These quick, corny advertisements add a lot of humor to the show. Without these short odd bits scattered throughout the episodes the shows would not have the same flow which is really important because they are only 11 minutes long per episode. The short bits make it so they have to have quicker pacing than most television shows. It also helps transition to the different stories that the episodes are made up of. The final reason these bits are important is because they help the show feel even more like it is cable access which is what Tim and Eric are shooting for in their show.
Tim and Eric’s Awesome Show uses some of television’s conventional storytelling but because of their use of anti humor they take the norm and flip it on its head. They take an old story about two families that are different and change it by having one dad adopting the other dad. Awesome Show even has a different way of doing their cold start by overdoing the use of stereotypes to convey a message and the overuse of sound and special effects in the title sequence. Most importantly the show uses short bits that break up the Aristotle storytelling but also help with the flow of the show. All of these elements make the show its unique self and make it so the show is an anti humor comedy that resembles cable access. What is also impressive is the fact that the show is only 11 minutes long and they are able to tell multiple stories.