“You’re gonna be the new sauce boy.”
“Sure, whatever it takes to keep those dirty diapers out of my mouth.”
It’s been over a year since the last installment of Bedtime Stories. It was some point in the interim time between then and now that Tim and Eric had said that two half-hour specials from the series would air before the end of 2015, and while it started to look like they wouldn’t be able to make good on their promise, the first of such entries, “Sauce Boy” has finally arrived.
For a show that’s always wallowed in the despicable and repugnant, the special fitfully begins at a dirty diaper eating support group, which ranks up there with the rankest of the rank. Within the group we meet the timid Gary Royce (Eric Wareheim) who soon becomes our tour guide through this twisted world. Gary is soon met by Bobby Bologna (Tim Heidecker putting on his best stereotypical gangster impression), who’s a disgusting human being in his own right. He comes to Gary with the hopes of simultaneously curing him of his deranged ailment and keeping him under his filthy thumb for the rest of Gary’s livelihood. With Gary prime for manipulation, the episode kicks into motion fairly quickly for an installment that’s double the usual episode length.
It might just be because it’s been so long since I’ve seen Tim and Eric at this shtick, but I was deeply digging their characters here—Tim’s especially, as he pushes this cliché quite far without ever going overboard and making it snap. Wareheim’s beleaguered, petrified performance as Gary is a welcome counterpoint to the conniving Bobby, too, and they’re decent characters to add to the duos large repertoire (although I’d also be fine if we never saw them again).
“Sauce Boy” is peppered with a number of rote, sprawling monologues, each of them being tributes to the overdone mobster genre in a number of ways. They’re consistently a delight here, and the casting of James Madio and Johnny “Roast Beef” Williams in supporting roles helps carry the gag even further. Although a Spagett cameo wouldn’t have gone unappreciated…
There are also some wonderful Lynch allusions—even more so than usual—like a beautiful prolonged zoom in on a spilled cup of coffee that can’t help but remind you of a scene with a certain severed appendage out of Blue Velvet. I’m never not on board with this, and in this case, it acts as some appreciated foreshadowing for the turn Gary’s life is about to take.
It’s a lot of fun seeing Gary get indoctrinated into Bologna’s gang, slowly picking up the ways of the trade and learning to even become the gang’s resident sauce boy. The ridiculous reason keeping Gary at their beck and call only accentuates the absurdity of all of this. It’s the sort of story that any of Gary’s nine kids back home would love to pieces.
This situation culminates in a lavish spaghetti dinner that the gang puts on that even has the attendance of the prestigious Mama Pantone (“Who is very particular with her sauce!”). With Gary’s sauce stakes being higher than ever, Mama Pantone’s opinion has never been more important and Gary’s chance at being an official pisan hangs in the balance. With the devastating, brutal conclusions that Tim & Eric’s Bedtime Stories so often take, the touching departure in form that “Sauce Boy” goes out on is a welcome change of pace. In spite of the stinky artifice that all of this is wrapped up in, there’s a very simple, muted story inside of it all.
In the end Gary chooses a lesser life for himself, but the point of the ending underscores how he could have remained free if he wanted to. Or in fact, maybe this diaper-eating lifestyle is freedom to him, freedom from the oppressive rules and judgments of society. Freedom from convention. Freedom from being easily definable.
In spite of Gary ultimately having the power at the end of this, and it conceivably being a “happy ending” of sorts, the soundtrack and final piece of dialogue hint that perhaps this is a horror story after all. Just a much more grounded, naturalistic one. As Gary Royce and Bobby Bologna part ways, the following parting words are exchanged:
“We’re all doomed to be who we’re meant to be. People don’t change.”
“Sauce Boy” isn’t the best entry of Bedtime Stories (I wouldn’t even put it in the top three) and it’s unclear if much is really gained by the expanded runtime here, but it got me excited for this show again and hungry for more. These two are such phenomenal storytellers that the fact that they want to make any more episodes of this show is good news. Let’s hope that the next thirty-minute special isn’t the show’s final offering.
The “Sauce Boy” Special of Tim & Eric’s Bedtime Stories will air on November 6th at 11:30pm on Adult Swim.