TIM & ERIC Just be kind

Tim Heidecker and Eric
Warheim, better known as Tim and Eric, are returning to the land down under! Known for their camp 80s aesthetic, toilet humour, surrealism, and idiosyncratic comedy, the comedy duo have amassed a cult-like culture of fans around the globe. With their Mandatory Attendance tour (even by reading this, you are now expected to attend) set to touch down at Perth’s Astor Theatre on Saturday, January 18, JADE SCHRANDT had a chat with Heidecker (pictured above) to discuss a variety of topics from diarrhoea to kindness.

You’re touring Australia soon, and you last toured here in 2015. Are you feeling pretty excited to get back out here and reconnect with your Aussie fans?

Oh, very much so! I will be more excited when we have our show figured out, which is happening now. We were saying just today that it’s always at this place like a month before we go, that it’s this big old garbage pile and we have to sort through it and figure out what we are doing. But that’s how it goes, we rehearse it, and we make decisions and stuff. So I am not at the excitement place just yet, I am more at the biting-my-fingernails and nervous stage, but I think once we start packing and we land, and I pay my ceremonious visit to Bondi Beach and kiss the sand, then I’ll be really excited. I think I’ll be most excited after the first show, but before that, just nerves.  

So on your promo video when you said there are lots of secrets and special surprises coming with your 2020 show, some of that is to do with not knowing what’s going on yet?  

(Laughs) Well, it’s pretty much because with comedy, I can’t talk too much about the stuff in the show because a) it doesn’t sound as funny here, and b) you don’t want to know. I wouldn’t want to know the punchlines of a stand-up show. It’s always this tricky thing when we do press, where the live stuff is hard to talk about. You have a natural curiosity as a journalist and writer, but I have a guarded protection of the material. And honestly, if I told you something it would potentially backfire anyway. It would sound so stupid in print that people would stay away from the show.

We are working on it now, it’s making us laugh. We were just working on one part and we were crying-laughing at something that is going to happen in the show, and it’s kind of small, but it’s my favourite kind of stuff, it got me excited that that’s going to be happening in a month, in front of thousands of people, and we are going to do it every night. It’s that kind of thing where Eric and I get into our little rhythm and we realise it’s just what we needed.  

So it’s staying true to yourselves, then… 

Absolutely, we don’t know any other way to be.  

Are you surprised by the cult-like reception that your shows have received, and kind of just kept running with it? Or were you always writing for an intended audience? 

I don’t think we ever thought about it. We always just made stuff that we thought was funny, and then the stuff that worked we kept doing, and what didn’t we moved away from. I don’t think we thought about the audience too much, we think about what we think is going to be good. We have our own hunches. But, yeah, as soon as we started doing it on a larger scale and putting it on TV, we realised that some people were going to really hate it, some were going to love it, some people even think parts are good that we didn’t think was that great, and sometimes people really hate the thing that you love more than anything, so you can’t get too worried about it. In the end it has to be for you.  

In an age of flawlessness, your characters remain unique, embracing the imperfect in a satirical and honest way. Why is this so important to their identity as characters? Why is it so important to you as their creator?  

It’s such a wide range of characters that we do, it’s hard to generalise. It’s comedy, and I see perfection as the antithesis to comedy. Unless you’re making fun of the idea of perfection, of course, nothing is anywhere near close to perfect. The idea of perfection itself is absurd. So, the fundamentals of comedy are about flaws. Flawed people, imperfect people. Not necessarily bad people, just people making mistakes and presenting that in a way that can be either sad or funny, in a way that you can identify something in yourself or other people that brings you relief or some kind of catharsis.  

I have to ask, as I’ve wondered it frequently when watching much of your work, but what’s with the diarrhoea theme which is so very prevalent? Is it a metaphor, or do you just really love shit jokes? I love your work, but I can never get past the diarrhoea scene in Billion Dollar Movie. I have to skip it! 

We do love it. I think if you ask me what the funniest word in the English language is, that word is seriously up there for me. We don’t always self-examine or analyse why we are doing things. But, since we have done it so much, I guess it’s this universal thing that we all have to deal with at one time or another in life, and it’s incredibly embarrassing. It’s something that isn’t really talked about in society, so in a way we try to laugh at it and make it seem so ridiculous and silly that it’s normal. As I get older, it’s a bit different. Y’know when you’re younger and eating like shit, and drinking and not treating your body well, it’s much more a part of your life. But I am happy to report that I am now fairly regular. 

Funnily enough, before this interview, I’d been talking to Eric about the show and it was all poo related. So yeah, maybe we are attached to poo jokes, but I think we pace that out well in our shows. There’s like a nice amount of it for us, it’s not all shit jokes, but they are definitely there. I think it’s more evident because other people don’t go there anymore. They don’t do poop jokes and I think it’s a shame.

So more people should do poop jokes. I hope they’re taking note… 

Yeah, but don’t invade our market! We don’t want the comedy scene flooded with shit jokes, that’s our niche. 

You’re an actor with a plethora of roles under your belt, many alongside Eric, with your most recent independent role in Mister America. You make cameo appearances in various films, perform on stage, and have produced some pretty impressive tunes over the years. Is there anything else you want to conquer in the world of Hollywood and life in general? 

I mean, it’s constantly a world of dissatisfaction in people’s careers, always sort of hoping, working, and pushing to get to a different place. You should never feel content. At my age, I want to just keep working with really cool and interesting people, and do work that challenges you and feels fresh. So whatever format that finds itself in, do it.

I think that applies to my life in general as well. Be a good dad, raise good children.  

You have two children, right? How old are they now? 

Yup, two. They’re six and three.

Is it going to be difficult to be away for so long? 

Yeah it will be this time, it’s a longer trip than usual. It’ll be a sad farewell. Though also a little bit of relief, get out of the house for a few weeks and go do adult things.

If you could have one of your anti-advertisements play worldwide on everyone’s screens simultaneously, what wisdom or truth would you want to impart upon society as a whole? What are we lacking that we most need? 

Oh my God. How am I meant to answer that? This got deep.  

I mean, anything I say is going to be very cliché but also very true. I think I’d want to get the message out to be kind. No one is going to do that, are they? But if it’s in the back of your head, then maybe it’ll sink in? Subliminal kindness? Yeah, just be kind.