Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim are undeniable forces of nature.
Their avant garde style of humor has helped usher in the popular movement of alternative comedy, or “anti-humor.” They’ve also normalized dark, Lynchian undertones in their work. Tim and Eric have birthed many memorable characters like Casey Tatum and his brother, Spaghett, their bizarro versions Jim and Derrick, and unleashed unpolished supporting players like Davie Liebe Hart, Richard Dunn, and James Quall onto the world.
The trajectory of Tim and Eric’s career includes following up Awesome Show with a feature film, Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie, not to mention the still-running spinoff series, Check It Out! With Dr. Steve Brule, and their dark anthology series, Tim and Eric’s Bedtime Stories.
With this week’s release of Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! Awesome 10 Year Anniversary Version, Great Job?, here are the 15 best Awesome Show sketches! Get your Chippy ready and dig in.
“Gravy Robbers Training Video”
What makes the absurd concept behind “Gravy Robbers” so great is that it’s taken at face value. Yes, restaurants are constantly in jeopardy of having their gravy being stolen. Yes, there are those out there that are specifically skilled to do the stealing of this gravy. Let’s move on.
Then on top of that you’ve got Zach Galifianakis selling the hell out of this thing, acting as a patron saint of sorts to gravy thieves. The best part is that one potential gravy robber just bails during the middle of his “orientation” because he’s so bored by this. He won’t be “snatching that grah-vy up,’ that’s for sure.
Awesome Show had a weird tradition where each season of the show began with some terribly designed product from Cinco’s “Brown” line. Season five’s “Cinco Shower” is the culmination of five years of bad ideas and truly pushes the limits.
This is the best example of Tim and Eric indulging their gross out muscles. Plus, that “I don’t clean. I no clean” janitor seems painfully real and oblivious to the fact this is actually a commercial. It’s easy to see how the guy’s performance would go on to spawn a thousand memes.
In this sketch, Glen Tennis, the director of the film Crystal Shyps, attempts to sell some props from his movie in order to recoup some financial setbacks. “Shopping Indoors” begins as a mundane shopping network spoof but then devolves into a man having a nervous breakdown after Glen is prank called and heckled. Tim and Eric do an excellent job of highlighting people at their most broken and vulnerable and “Shopping Indoors” is a glimpse of a man’s life getting away from him.
Watching A.D. Miles let loose and the perpetual reminders that the fool’s gold is not for sale make this a memorable, dark horse sketch. That non sequitur “Space Horse: Course-to-Course” ending is also such a bizarre way to go out.
“Cleaning Up After Your Cats/The Worst Thing About Cats”
Maria Bamford is a goddamn treasure and Tim and Eric have always known how to put her to excellent use. Cutesy title card graphics and child-like behavior make these initially seem like they’re going to be playful cat videos with Bamford.
As the videos go on, they reveal themselves to be much more about Bamford’s trauma. Bamford lashes out in a manic performance, screaming about lost love, while some unsuspecting “guest” is left to experience this explosion. Bamford’s “Jekyll/Hyde” mood bursts are on full display. In a lot of ways these sketches also feel like the feminine counterpoint to the show’s “Will Grello” sketches. They hit on much of the same, tortured territory.
There’s like no logic in play in “Prices,” but that’s why it’s just so damn good. Here, Tim and Eric run competing stores that simply sell prices. No products, just the prices for things ($1.99, $8.97, $4.95) as the two try to persuade customers as to why their specialty store (one with discount prices, the other with premium prices) is the superior one.
“Prices” takes a beautifully ridiculous concept and then pairs it up with the always-reliable idea of Tim and Eric competing against each other. This is exactly the sort of niche, unconventional concept that you’re not going to see playing out on Saturday Night Live.
“Tairy Greene’s Acting Seminar for Children”
Zach Galifianakis’ work as Tairy Greene throughout Awesome Show’s run is incredible stuff. It’s easy to see why he continues to pair up with the duo for various projects. Letting Galifianakis run wild as he exudes confidence is always entertaining, but this sketch puts him into a room with a bunch of children. Watching these real kids shift between genuine awe and confusion over Tairy Greene’s “lesson” is incredible comedy. I still laugh every time at Tairy’s vocal shifts, but then again, I haven’t been taught under the tutelage of Randy Tutelage.
“Not Jackie Chan”
“Not Jackie Chan” thrives on the sheer simplicity of the concept. This is an advertisement for a board game that revolves around naming things that are not Jackie Chan. That Herculean task is framed around a bunch of different board game like antics as the players inevitably end up saying Jackie Chan and losing the round. The idea here is solid, but then the sketch is pushed in a disturbing direction when one player goes rogue and the dissonance of a buzzer takes over the commercial.
“Getting the Most Out of Your Child Clown Rental”
If you’ve ever considered going into the child clown rental business, why even bother? It’s a known fact that the Mahanahan family have that industry on lock. There are a number of “Child Clown Rental” sketches, but the reason “Getting the Most…” is the stand-out installment is because of its instructional video angle.
It slows down this insane idea and really makes a meal out of it. The warped VCR aesthetic and foreboding narration only heighten it and it’s also hard to argue with the absolutely twisted visual of tired child prisoners being sprayed with poison to slow down, or getting blared with an air horn to wake up. There’s some real sadness behind those painted faces.
“Fortin’ With Will”/”Quilting With Will”
Some of Will Forte’s best performances come out of Tim and Eric productions. His work here as “Will Grello” (a crazy joke in itself, since he’s dealing with forts and his real name, “Forte,” would have been perfect) is as intense as it gets. Both installments are strong and show Forte breaking down over his venomous, abusive relationship with his father, but “Fortin’” gets more points for putting children into the mix. These kids truly don’t know how to process the breakdown and pants urination that’s going on in front of them.
Rat Wise is another incredible talent on Adult Swim. Awesome Show frequently brings Wise into the mix when they need that strong heavy-hitter, but he’s also the perfect disconcerting voice of authority. The idea of “business hugs” in general is funny in itself, but this sketch dissects them into complicated, multi-step processes that need their own instructional videos. Before you know it, you’ll be giving out “the greatest hug” too!
“Cinco MIDI Organizer”
Tim and Eric have frequently shown an affinity for that retro style of computers and technology in the ‘90s. They’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of lampooning that specific era of time, but the “Cinco MIDI Organizer” is definitely the strongest execution of that obsession. Awesome Show is at its best when it’s turning a simple idea into something that’s needlessly complicated. Furthermore, this is all for a service that’s generally useless. Nobody is just listening to MIDIs anymore, but the fact that the show earnestly operates like people still are is why this and so many other sketches work.
There’s a lot to love in “Pussy Doodles.” First off, the concept of using cats as art aids is remarkably adorable, but actually seeing them streak paint against canvas is even cuter. Then, a deranged David Cross leads the whole spectacle and he can’t even seem to get the name of his product out properly. This alone would be enough, but the second half of the commercial takes a great turn where director, Bob Odenkirk screams at Cross for wasting everyone’s time and messing up so many takes. It’s a fun little turn for those that are aware of Cross and Odenkirk’s longstanding sketch history together, but it’s also just an unexpected button for the silly idea to go out on.
“Cinco Encyclopedia of Numbers”
This idea just makes me laugh and laugh. A series of books dedicated to cataloguing numbers is just such a terrible idea, but it’s approached with such enthusiasm here. Rainn Wilson steers this masterful sketch that has him not only pitching this novel idea, but also showing off the many niche streams of encyclopedia they offer, like “Numbers for Men,” all of which are equally useless. But hey, at least they provide the option to have numbers listed both numerically and alphabetically! Awesome Show is often having the most fun when it’s getting excited over something infinitely stupid, with this being a great example. You’re not going to see Rainn Wilson on an iceberg number three anywhere else, either. It really is “all about the numbers.”
You either fall into the category of thinking “Bub-Bubs” is the greatest thing of all time, or you forget about it completely and don’t give it a second thought. Every detail about this sketch is just perfect in my opinion, in spite of how weird it is. Basically a woman is holding a dance competition and she’s hopeful that the best dancer will be able to make her “bub-bubs bounce” (meaning, induce labor and birth her children). There’s a lot of shoddy dancing and a womb is burst open and some children are born. Maybe my favorite detail in the whole thing though is the unnecessarily ornate setting where this is all going down on a rocket platform that’s hovering over some lava.
The Holy Grail, ladies and gentlemen. “Celery Man” banks on many of Tim and Eric’s fascinations and Paul Rudd does such great work in the sketch. There’s a lot of love for old timey computers and Rudd’s entrance is on some metallic conveyer belt in some kind of Danger Room environment that adds weird nuance to all of this. From that point on it’s basically Paul Rudd having a bunch of fun with sillier versions of himself. Or rather, pictures of sillier versions of himself. That might not sound too remarkable but it’s something that really hits its mark. It’s also infinitely relatable. Who among us hasn’t wanted to dodge a call from our wives while we try to gaze upon a nude image of Tayne?
Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! Awesome 10 Year Anniversary Version, Great Job? airs August 27th at midnight on Adult Swim.