Tim Heidecker Transcends 'Tim and Eric' Comedy for Dark Drama in 'The Comedy'
While personal branding can be an important consideration to make in today's world of hyper-stimulation and instantaneous mass media, there's also a danger to become type-cast or pigeonholed given the body of work you've already established for yourself. Recently, director Rick Alverson has teamed up with the stars/masterminds behind Adult Swim's Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! -- Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim -- in a project that anyone familiar with the latter series may actually find difficult to believe. The Comedy screened at this year's Sundance and has subsequently been released on VOD, and Tim Heidecker's lead performance has received some impressive nods and positive attention. In a recent interview by Filmmaker Magazine, Tim highlights the benefits of breaking your own creative molds.
First, here's a clip from Tim and Eric if you're unfamiliar, to lend some context to what Tim's transformation really means here. Keep in mind this is a rather tame example of how out-there the show can get (and as a heads-up, I would recommend exercising some NSFW-style caution with all these clips):
Now, compare that with the trailer for The Comedy in case you haven't seen it yet:
Keeping in mind that the short-form style of Tim and Eric also differs greatly from their own Billion Dollar Movie, contrast the above and below clips with this (100% NSFW -- you've been warned) trailer for the latter:
A great behind-a-scene clip on The Comedy also surfaced recently, and it's really interesting to see the candid nature of the filming process here (not to mention seeing Tim speak in a serious and non-acting manner):
Hopefully, you're not too baffled (as I truly was, but in a really good way), but not totally unfazed -- just baffled enough. Here's a bit from Tim's interview with Filmmaker that touches on the line between persona and person:
Filmmaker: You’ve created this public persona for yourself – it’s hard to tell the difference between Tim Heidecker the filmmaker and Tim Heidecker the character. Is that something you find shifting as you hit the festival circuit to promote something that’s more overtly dramatic?
Heidecker: Eric and I came from the Andy Kaufman school, where part of the mystery was, “Who are these guys?” So there’s always been a lot of staying in character. But over time, as I’ve gotten a little older, that’s become less important to me. I’ve certainly started to express myself as myself on places like Twitter. But I’m still interested in not having anybody figure out exactly what I’m about. It’s fun to keep that up.
I won't share any more, because it's really worth it to read the full interview. It's fascinating to hear Tim talking about the differences in approaching a portrayal of a character in forms that have totally different emotional results -- not to mention the parody-type similarities that became apparent between making The Comedy and what could very well be lampooned on Tim and Eric. After all, who's to say an aging hipster wouldn't be the subject of parody in Tim and Eric -- or even that the show wouldn't parody the exact type of dark dramatic indie film that The Comedy represents (this is also pointed out in the interview)?
There's nothing illegitimate about the brand of comedy found in Tim and Eric -- in fact, I would argue that the duo and the show's team are innovators of a truly unique form of hilarity. I think Tim (and Eric, for that matter) have truly put themselves outside what's likely perceived as their "comfort zone" here, though, and I think there's a beauty to that. In fact that alone, to me, justifies the viewing of The Comedy.
What do you guys think? Do these materials present a good case to check out The Comedy? Were you already aware of Tim's work, and surprised to hear about this film? If so, are you excited to see it?