The awesomely weird adventures of TV's Tim and Eric continue, live on stage

By Aaron Leitko
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 30, 2010; 10:34 PM

Watching "Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!" it can be difficult to remember that you're supposed to laugh, not cringe.

For three years and five gloriously weird seasons, the 11-minute sketch show, created by Pennsylvania-bred comedians Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim, has delivered some of the most polarizing humor ever to hit basic cable: You get it, or you don't.

"Awesome Show," which aired on Cartoon Network's late-night programming block, Adult Swim, was an absurdist take on community access television - a phony network populated by spray-tanned pitchmen, frowny-faced child clowns and eerie edutainment that preached, "All the food is poison."

Think David Lynch meets Ron Popeil, plus toilet gags. When you weren't wincing, it was very, very funny.

And now it's gone. As of last spring, Heidecker and Wareheim have placed "Awesome Show" on indefinite hiatus. In part, they've simply outgrown their microscopic time slot. On Dec. 5, Adult Swim will broadcast a Tim and Eric "Chrimbus Special," a 44-minute holiday spoof. In March, the duo will begin shooting its first feature film, "Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie."

In the meantime, Heidecker and Wareheim have decided to hit the road. Wednesday night, their tour brings them to the State Theatre in Falls Church, one of the final stops on their "Chrimbus Spectacular 2010" tour.

Last week, sitting on the steps of Pittsburgh's Carnegie Library Music Hall before their gig, Heidecker and Wareheim, both 34, looked worn out.

It's not their first time on tour; they've been going out on regular, month-long jaunts for the past several years. But more than three weeks of wigs, false teeth and rayon clothing seems to have taken a toll.

In person, they are affable and strait-laced rather than gonzo. They have a reputation for giving interviewers a hard time, mostly by telling fibs. A publicist will later ask whether they "sounded like they were telling the truth." Milling around outside the venue, waiting for sound check to begin, they appear to be on their good behavior.

The Tim and Eric live experience differs markedly from the television series, which thrives on post-production effects - cheesy green-screen backdrops and intentional technical flubs. Denied these tricks, it's difficult to recreate the program's claustrophobic mood.

"It's different, but it's coming from the same place," says Heidecker. "We obviously have to do things that are a little bit bigger, louder. But we also make sure that the show is filled with awkward moments."

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