Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim return to Adult Swim, writing, directing and starring in Tim and Eric's Bedtime Stories, an anthology series in the tradition of The Twilight Zone. Each episode offers a unique tale: dark, horrifying, perverse, insane...hilarious, featuring a wide array of comedic and dramatic guest stars. High production value replaces Awesome Show era cable access low-fi, but there'll be no question whose minds are behind Tim and Eric's Bedtime Stories.
Things kick off tonight with the debut episode Hole. To celebrate the premiere on Adult Swim, we caught up with the masterminds behind this new endeavor, which is one of Fall 2014's best and most exciting new series.
Check out our exclusive chat with Tim and Eric which touches on all aspects of their careers, and how they came to arrive at this new juncture, which is very different from anything they've attempted before, yet still undeniably a part of that Tim and Eric world we've come to know and love.
Here is our conversation:
I watched the first episode just minutes ago, and I'm in complete awe of this!
Tim Heidecker: Oh, cool!
I've been a long time admirer of your work. One of the things that would constantly draw me back to Awesome Show, and one of the reasons I am so fascinated by the movie, is that it does have this creepy horror element weaved throughout it. Now, here, you drive the focus straight to that.
Tim Heidecker: Yeah, we're drawn to it!
Were you at all inspired by the Dan Aykroyd/Jim Belushi Neighbors or the Burbs? After watching the first episode of this, it doesn't seem like there is a reason to ever remake those two movies now...
Tim Heidecker: (Laughs) It's been a long time since I've seen both of those movies. I don't think it was something we thought about. It reminds me of The Great Outdoors, remember that one? I love that movie. Maybe Neighbors...
The cool thing about Bedtime Stories, opposed to Awesome Show, is that you can create a character that lives through a complete story arc over the course of 15 minutes. They are not just jokes in a two minute sketch.
Tim Heidecker: Yeah. We really got excited about that potential. And we feel like it really worked out. We can take a little idea, or an idea that feels like it might have gone by in 30 second in Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, and really get into it. We can really explore it, and have fun with it.
Now, is the song Chow Down, which we see in the first episode, an original idea of yours, Tim?
Tim Heidecker: You know what? That was...We've been doing a new thing where our editor puts in a temp track. We have all this library music. Like generic music. When we were watching the cuts, I started singing along to it. So, it was like a hybrid.
Now, with this show, is this what you're saying you want to do instead of a second movie? I enjoyed the movie. Its one of those ones where, again, not to bring up the Burbs, but there is just so many layers, and details, it demands you go back and look at it again and again. I've heard you talk about the movie a bunch. This seems like an offshoot of that, where you want to tell longer stories, but again, do it in the way people know Tim & Eric best. Is that at all the thought behind it?
Eric Wareheim: Yes. We enjoyed making the movie. We also made 3 or 4 short films for HBO. They were 15 minute short films that did exactly what you're saying. We could tell these stories with bigger characters, and really explore one universe without having to jump around. For us, we are still in that short form mentality. Hopefully we'll go back and make another movie. That's a hard thing to do, make a movie. I like the idea that you can go back and watch the movie over and over again. But we love getting to do an eleven and a half minute show.
Tim Heidecker: Yeah, we're getting to make a movie every week with this show. In a way, it feels as satisfying as the movie, but its just shorter. You know? When you think about this arbitrary 90 minute three-act structure that everyone is so excited to do...We're like, 'We don't have time to watch a lot of movies anymore." I get a lot of enjoyment out of watching that 11 minute version of what we did. And watching some of these other shorter format videos. TV shows are like that now. You can feel like you're watching a movie, like it's Mad Men as opposed to whatever Colin Farrell is up to right now.
You guys put out a standalone short last year, around Halloween time, right? I don't remember the name of that...
Tim Heidecker: Oh, yeah...It was the haunted house one...
Now, the tone and idea, and the whole entire short was a 360 degree turn from the actual first episode of Bedtime Stores. Is that the idea? That these episodes are each their own separate entity? That's what it feels like so far...
Tim Heidecker: I mean...I would say this. That was our original idea. We would have this blank palate, and we could do anything we wanted to do. But I think, like anything we do, the more you do it, the more focused it becomes. As we started making the show, I think there is a continuity to it now that wasn't in the haunted house episode. And there are some diversions that happened along the way, throughout the season. I think the best ideas in the show are pretty consistent, in the way it looks, and certainly the tone of it. Which we're excited about. We didn't expect that. But when you start making something, you follow your nose a little bit. The rest of the episodes are more like Holes (the first episode) than they are like the Haunted House episode. I'll tell you that.
I was, like a lot of people, really moved by your performance in the Comedy, Tim. And Eric, I loved what you did in Wrong Cops. These were avenues where you were able to really show your talents as actors, not just filmmakers and visual artists. With this being a different format from Awesome Show, did you look at Bedtime Stories as a means to further display your talents in that arena? Especially when you're each coming into play a completely different character every week?
Tim Heidecker: It all depends on what the show, or the story, demands. We felt like, with this show, everything needed to be grounded here in the real word, and that requires some more grounded performances to suit the tone and the mood. To make it more about the story, and not just some ridiculous over the top performance.
If you threw some different music in there, and cut it slightly, you could present this first episode, Holes, as a true dramatic, horrific story that isn't as funny as it is terrifying. You could pull that out of there.
Tim Heidecker: Oh, yeah. We are constantly riding that line of not being too silly, but adding jokes so that you are laughing and cringing at the same time.
Now, I want to know, Tim, doing a junket like this, do any of the journalists ever bring up your movie review show On Cinema? What they actually think of that?
Tim Heidecker: (Laughs) No. It doesn't ever come up too much. I hope they have a sense of humor about it. I think a lot of people do.
I actually really enjoy it. I don't know how sincere or not sincere you are being when you are talking about a particular movie...
Tim Heidecker: We don't see any of the movies we review so its all pretty much insincere...
It has this weird heart to it. It reminds me of talking to my girlfriend's parents, who are out in Arkansas. They aren't bitter or jaded about movies in the way most critics are. Which is kind of the slant the show takes. I like that, because its so easy to take down a bad movie. We don't often see the other side of that in the media. A critic who just loves the movie going experience. I get that its a goof, but it comes across as sweet in a way.
Tim Heidecker: Ok! That's cool!
Now, with you guys doing a show like On Cinema, what do you think of Gregg Turkington taking on a role in Ant-Man?
Tim Heidecker: I think, great for him!
How does that affect On Cinema when it comes time to review Ant-Man. Do you point out the fact that your co-host is actually in the movie?
Tim Heidecker: It's going to play beautifully into that season of the series.
He's someone...Again, I don't think people knew how good of an actor he is, or could be, until they saw the Comedy.
Tim Heidecker: Yeah. I think we're lucky that we have some fans in the entertainment world who come to us and want us to be in their projects, and sort of subvert the usual way things get done, and get cast. So we end up in weird things every once in a while that people don't expect us to be in. But, its fun to do different stuff.
I liked the Workaholics appearance. I thought that was pretty cool...
Tim Heidecker: Thank you.
Then again, I think people that are watching Tim & Eric are watching Workaholics, so maybe that's not what you mean.
Tim Heidecker: Right.
Now, can you tell me a little bit more about some of the upcoming episodes and how you landed on which stories you wanted to tell this season?
Eric Wareheim: We have one episode we just watched with John C. Reilly, who plays this poor schlub who gets tricked by Tim and Eric into buying this system that makes you a better man called 'Be a Baby." He gets pranked, and screwed with the entire time. He eventually looses his mind. I think everyone has experienced that story. That everyone is out to get you. And make your life so hard and miserable...That is one kind of story that we tell. We have another one...Have you seen /tv/tim-and-erics-bedtime-stories/Toes?
No, I didn't get to watch it yet...
Eric Wareheim: That is a different kind of..It has more of a horror type of vibe. It takes place in a nightmare universe where in this world everyone clips their toes, in a play on plastic surgery, how nonchalant people are about getting implants or chopping off their nose. Its a heightened reality of how gruesome that is.
Who is directing the episodes? Is that you guys? Or is it a different director every episode?
Eric Wareheim: We co-directed, just like we've done on 100% of our stuff. So, yeah, we have some episodes that don't have Tim and Eric in them. Some do. Its been really fun to sit behind the camera and not appear in the episode itself.
I did not realize that. So there will be episodes where neither of you are playing a character...
Eric Wareheim: Yeah, /tv/tim-and-erics-bedtime-stories/Toes in particular.
Tim Heidecker: We need a break.
Now, in Hole, you guys get into the neighbor's house, and you have these four guys sitting on the couch. Are you still casting these extras as you did on Awesome Show, where you just find some random person that you think is fascinating, as opposed to going through the traditional casting agencies?
Tim Heidecker: To a degree. To a much more limited controlled way, here. We're always looking for interesting faces and off the grid performances. But like I said before, we want to ground the show more, making it more about story. We wanted things to be more about finding good, actual performances from trained actors. Its a new...Not to make something more broad, but to make something different for us. To explore...For example, this John C. Reilly episode, we brought in Laurie Metcalf...She is this phenomenal, professional, Shakespearean-Almost actress who is just totally different than you are used to seeing in a Tim and Eric thing. That is exciting for us to break our own stereotypes.
Was there anyone you wanted to work with for a long time that you were able to get and bring into Bedtime Stories as an actor?
Tim Heidecker: Well, on this show we brought in the people we were really comfortable with. /tv/tim-and-erics-bedtime-stories/Toes, with Bob Odenkirk, we wrote that with him in mind. John C. Reilly, we wrote something with him in mind. Just people we wanted to spend time with. And, you know, show in a different light. In /tv/tim-and-erics-bedtime-stories/Toes, we get to work with M. Emmet Walsh, who might not be a household name, but I'm sure you know who that is. He is just this incredible 70s actor, who we had in mind for this episode. Luckily he was around and up for doing it. I think people are not going to expect to see him in our world at all. Once you do see it, you see that it's very natural for him to be in the show. He was an exciting person to work with.
Eric Wareheim: We got Jason Schwartzman, I'd always wanted to work with him.
Tim Heidecker: We're not obsessed with stocking this thing with celebrities. But, you know. When we get to work with someone that is really super talented, and dynamic, and great...It makes the episode so much better.