Tim Heidecker and Eric Warheim promised fans an explicit, visceral experience, and boy, did they deliver. Mandatory Attendance at Perth’s Astor Theatre was an assault on the senses. Akin to a postmodern performance experience at times, it was discombobulating, frightening, but exciting, a sight you cannot turn away from. Deafening audio, erratic lighting, and an element of the uncanny enveloping patrons in a world so familiar and yet so horrifying. A lack of salient object forced one’s focus to shift consistently, a flurry of motion, dialogue, and musical backdrops. Multimedia mayhem, and yet – enthralling.
This show is not for the faint-hearted. Overheard upon departure (our “free” departure, kindly allowed to us with thanks to the generous hosts Tim and Eric), was the apt quote “Man, their shows are too fucked up to watch sober, but too scary to watch high.”
Tim and Eric began the night with a bang, boot-scooting onto the stage draped in all that glitters. Tight, iridescent cowboy attire was the evening’s first costume. Audiences were privy to the pair’s attempt at ‘mainstream’ entertainment, with a cowboy themed song and skit with the dick-tickler out to tickle some dicks. After coming to the ‘realisation’ that their audience were there for their original brand, they quickly resumed the niche of cult-like comedy that fans have come to know and love.
And then it got weird. And weirder. An area of weird only Tim and Eric are so proficiently skilled in executing without sending an audience screaming, vomiting, or crying out of the theatre.
A video signal requested that fans applaud only with the bottom of their palms while moaning in baritone – and, as any die hard Tim and Eric fan is inclined to do… that’s exactly what they did. The Astor’s walls resounded each time spectators clapped and howled like aquatic mammals. Tim called upon Eric to participate in a cuisine skit similar to Tim’s Kitchen Tips, and involved 10 Mandatory audience attendees in the creation of a wet and spicy lasagne, which could only be completed with the addition of Pitzman’s Mustard, added projectile-style from the nether-region of a bloke dressed as a giant mustard bottle to both the pasta dish itself, and unsuspecting fans sitting in the front row.
The twosome paraded in matching robes of black silk, their sexiest outfit by far, but only one of many costume changes throughout the evening. We, the eager participants of the evening, sang along to a song about dogs, were reminded of America’s shitty healthcare system in an insurance skit, and were witness to the unsettling video projection of a latex arsehole being “examined” by the doctor. Graphic? Yes. Gross? Yes. Shocking and funny? Also, yes.
To cap off the night of hilarious horror, Tim and Eric aired the first episode of their new, unreleased series, Beef House. If you’re an avid Tim and Eric fan, you know there’s shit involved, and lots of it.
The show itself, overall, was excellent. However, some skits proceeded far beyond necessary considering the content, additional interludes breaking up the onslaught of sound would have been welcomed, and onstage cues from the performers could do with some review. In addition, the incredibly ear-assaulting level of volume erupting from the speakers often became too much. Yeah, sure, the harsh sounds add to the theatrics, but often the humour of a quip was lost because the clamour prevented the audience from hearing it.
One cannot express quite intensely enough that Tim and Eric shows are not for everyone, they are for a select audience, most particularly those who already follow their comedy works. For those who do follow the delightfully immature, erratic, but hilarious comedians – the Mandatory Attendance tour has only reinvigorated their love for them. There really is nothing else and no one else like them, and that’s where the beauty lies in their work as individuals and a dynamic duo. Mandatory Attendance was both wonderful and traumatising, but fans wouldn’t have it any other way.