Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim welcomed playboy to their offices on the eve of the 10-year anniversary of Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! You can find the resulting profile (for which they also dressed up as Hall & Oates) here—but first, read on for a few bonus reflections on the show, including their favorite sketches and the fluid they used for the notorious “Man Milk” episode.
Did you guys get together and say, “Holy shit! It’s been 10 years since Awesome Show. Let’s go back on tour for this?”
HEIDECKER: Last year I said, “This is coming up. Does anyone care? Should someone throw us a big party? No, I guess we’ll go on a live tour.” It’s always presented in a show with songs. It’s the kind of show that’s confusing. It’s lots of mistakes and technical difficulties, arguments and quitting.
WAREHEIM: Costumes, props, blindfolds, earmuffs.
To set the record straight: You guys were really sober while creating and writing Awesome Show?
HEIDECKER: We had major drug problems through it. I’m kidding. Yeah, we found that you have to be kind of sober. I had to be focused on the work and have a reasonable clear head to do the work. When I recreationally smoke pot or drink, that’s when I want to forget things and not be creative. The only time I would say I would drink is for some of our live shows. I used to have a couple drinks to shake the nerves off. But I learned quickly, after all the singing and dancing, it gets exhausting and I hurt myself. It’s easier to perform when you don’t have four beers in you.
WAREHEIM: Yeah, and you have to pee so bad.
When you guys first started Awesome Show, were you two worried that people weren’t going to understand your humor?
HEIDECKER: I don’t know if we had much of an awareness of how different our stuff was until it went on television and people reacted to it. Up until then, we really only showed it to our friends and to like-minded type people.
WAREHEIM: Or we showed it at art film festivals and people we really laughing, so we thought we were really funny. But you put it up against a million really nerdy animation kids and they are like, “Yeah okay, this is not animation. I hope you die.”
HEIDECKER: I hope you die of AIDS.
People were tweeting a lot of homophobic slurs when it originally aired. How did you take the negative feedback?
WAREHEIM: Oh yeah, people were tweeting, “FAGGGGGS!” “FAGGOTS!” At first we were sensitive and put everything into this show. We worked in this vacuum and we weren’t collaborating with other people in the business. We were just doing our comedy. It was just me and him. We had a lot of pride with it and we were like, “Oh my god, that’s so mean.” But it’s like living in Philly, man. You have to let it go. Thank God Adult Swim had faith in us and let us grow.
HEIDECKER: It was really hard to acknowledge the neutral and positive reactions. I was thinking about this the other day. You see the negative reactions on a Facebook post, but then you see the likes, so there are people who like it. We talked to the network afterward and they were like, “Hey, listen, we get this for all of our shows. It’s almost like a video game kids play. We have all different people and it’s just a thing.”
What’s your fondest memory during filming?
WAREHEIM: Every day was really fun. We have Tom Skerritt on the show. He didn’t really know what it was. That was great. There were a lot of celebrities and many didn’t know what they were getting into. How we got so many is that we would go to their agents and they would ask their kids, “Do you know Tim and Eric?” The kid would say, “We love them. Do the show!” That happened with Michael Gross, so he walked in like this was a day of work, I guess. And it was crazy.
HEIDECKER: One technique was that we created this environment where the actors enter this dark, black area that led up to this seat, and you just hear me screaming at somebody in the background. I would say, “I don’t fucking care what he said. That guy could go fuck himself!” Then Dr. Steve Brule [played by John C. Reilly] comes in and starts the interview with them. No one got a chance to relax.
WAREHEIM: It was so that people believed that Dr. Brule is a doctor and not John C. Reilly. John never wanted to be like, “Hey, I’m John.” He’s always in character the entire time. It’s unbelievable.
HEIDECKER: When it’s all over, Eric and I come over, say hello and laugh. It’s not meant to be a prank, although it may have felt like one. It’s meant to capture those little moments when you are looking around. It’s always about getting something authentic.
HEIDECKER: I like the darker ones like “Cinco Boy,” or the divorce sketch is good.
WAREHEIM: I was just about to say “Getting a Divorce!”
HEIDECKER: It’s an absurd look at real things in life that people deal with that is surprising and satisfying. It’s like when you sit down at the kitchen table and you have to have a conversation like, “This is what’s happening with me and your mom.”
WAREHEIM: If you don’t know, these kids did a burp and they were laughing when the parents sat down to say they were getting a divorce. It’s so uncomfortable. There are a lot of layers to it. We felt very connected to our own childhood with it. Neither of us came from divorced families, but I have a lot of friends who have been through that and stuff. There definitely have been moments where my parents haven’t talked to each other.
HEIDECKER: We got really good at writing and building little scenes and sketch ideas to let crazy shit happen. Like “Pusswhip Banggang,” where it was this ’70s-rock group who just jam. No one knows what each other are playing and they don’t practice anything. We know in our heads when we edit that shit together later it will be amazing, but during filming it’s just them playing awful music and three cameras going and filming for an hour. We edit it down to five minutes of amazing shit.
“Celery Man” with Paul Rudd is a favorite among viewers.
HEIDECKER: The Paul Rudd clip, that’s the kind of clip that gets lots of people in. To us, it’s not the weirdest thing in the world. I get what’s funny about that, but hopefully it leads you down the path.
WAREHEIM: We wouldn’t even put that bit as our Top 20 Best Bits, but people love it.
Where did you come up with the Man Milk episode concept? And what did Eric’s man milk taste like?
WAREHEIM: We love the idea of men and awkward man things. It’s also something just funny to say: “Man milk.” A lot of times our ideas or bits will play off of someone’s name or a pun or rhyming things. It was almond milk. It’s funny because we did it and it wasn’t disgusting to do; it was fun. All the gross stuff that we have done is not really gross because we see the soy milk or the brown dye, but when people watch it—it’s such a visceral, gnarly thing. People are like, “Ahhhhhh!” We like that sensation every once in a while. We knew that one in particular would be bad, bottling our own milk.
HEIDECKER: That one doesn’t bother me. The only thing that bothered me was the hair. That always bothered me. It grosses me out more than poo and pee. The pubic hair shake, gagging up hair is really gross to me.
Was there ever a time you guys took it too far?
WAREHEIM: I think the one thing we went too far was eating the boogers. We were eating boogers and I guess they were candy. Tim was pushing it out his nose and eating it. He was eating boogies. It is vile.