“Was it what you expected?”
“Yeah. Well, I don’t know what I expected.”
That exchange between two fans walking out of T.T. the Bear’s last night pretty much explains the first show on the first night of Tim and Eric’s Awesome Tour, which is, of course, based on the Adult Swim show Tim and Eric: Awesome Show, Great Job! The TV show is strange enough, an eleven-and-a-half-minute blast of absurdity, flashing lights, disturbing images of hairy babies, and awkward dancing that attacks viewers brains every Sunday night. (You can read more about it in a piece I wrote for the Boston Globe here).
There were a few starts and stops at the beginning. After a quick set from DJ Dougpound, the music came back up for what seemed like a long time. Then the music stopped for what seemed like a ling time, and, being good fans, the crowd remained silent. After all, this was Tim and Eric, and having fans stare at a blank movie screen that barely fit on a stage made for rowdy pub rock may have been part of an opening joke. It wasn’t. But no one seemed to mind. They shouted things like “Brule’s Rules!” referring to John C. Reilly’s recurring character on the show, and “Jeff Goldblum!” who was also on the show. The good thing about presenting a creative, free-thinking show is that you can count on your audience to entertain themselves for a couple of minutes while they wait for you.
When the screen lit up with the image of show regular David Leibe Hart, demanding the crowd pray for Tim and Eric (and, kindly enough, for Robin Williams), everyone recognized him and cheered. Then came a planned false start, with a video of Tim and Eric backstage. They finally made it to the stage for the opening musical dance number about ball swinging, and it was off to the races from there.
The big question for people who hadn’t seen Tim and Eric live would have been, can these guys take material meant for an eleven-and-a-half minute late night sketch show and make a funny, engaging hour-and-a-half live show?
They can, although over that hour and a half, the audience has a bit more time to step back and question what they’re watching. And when your comedy is so particular and strange, not everything is going to hit the audience the same way at the same time. At some point during the show, more individuals probably stopped for a moment to say, what the hell am I watching? But then Tim and Eric would pelt the audience with pizza or hot dogs, or better yet, videos like “Quilting with Will” starring Will Forte and other previews from Season Three, which is still in the middle of production. And they never lost the crowd of clearly devoted fans.
“Casey and his brother” is fascinating live, because the onscreen version uses a lot of awkward close-ups and animation. But Tim’s red-faced, squeaky-voiced, compulsively spitting Casey is just as frightening live, probably because T.T.’s is small enough that most everyone, save those crowding over near the bar, has a clear view of every pained facial expression. Then, of course, there’s Eric playing a toy saxophone or dancing in a hamburger suit. Which is where the comedy nerd in me could reference commedia dell’arte or theatre of the absurd, or I could just admit that seeing a man Eric’s size furiously pumping his knees in time to cheesy music while dressed as ground chuck makes me giggle like a moron.
There was a quick encore, consisting mainly of the “James Quall Dance Contest” and Tim and Eric addressing the crowd as their surprisingly earnest, laid-back selves.
An odd bit of trivia – Tim and Eric were supposed to play Boston last year, but had to cancel the date because of their association with Adult Swim during the Aqua Teen Hunger Force Mooninite bomb scare. Both said they were happy to have finally made it to Boston, apologizing to the crowd for having to have cancelled last year’s show.
After the show, I asked Eric what he thought of the venue and the show. His response?
I should have expected that.