Friday Night: Tim & Eric At Fitzgerald's
Tim & Eric, Neil Hamburger
November 12, 2010
It took Aftermath a while to "get" Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim's Awesome Show (Great Job).
We were a fan of their original Adult Swim offering, Tom Goes to the Mayor, but at first unfairly lumped in their more live-action-oriented Awesome Show with a slew of brain-dead Adult Swim shows which we still believe the network produced for no other reason than that its staff smokes way, way too much pot. Shows like 12 Oz. Mouse, Xavier: Renegade Angel, Perfect Hair Forever and a few others exemplified a kind of lazy, detached, stoner-friendly writing style that had us repeatedly changing the channel.
A re-evaluation a few years later showed us why Tim & Eric's Awesome Show has stuck around while all of those other shows have been mercifully canceled; it's probably the only series on television right now where you can get high-quality, honest-to-God surrealism.
The program's basic conceit is to more or less recast comedy as a disorienting nightmare. What if David Lynch or Luis Bunuel had had a Saturday-morning variety show in the early 80's?
It would be a lot like the Tim & Eric show. Filled with bizarre, possibly mentally handicapped supporting cast members, rapid-fire, disjointed and disorienting editing, and eye-strainingly psychedelic animation. This gave us cause to worry about the live show. How would Tim and Eric translate that dreamlike quality onto the stage?
Fellow alternative comic Neil Hamburger opened, and Fitzgerald's was already packed to the brim before he even went onstage. It was the first time Aftermath had been to Fitzgerald's upstairs since the renovation, and the place looks good. A new, better lighting rig hangs beneath the new chandelier, and tasteful, austere décor has replaced all the stupid Hoarders-style shit they used to have hanging from the walls like a poor man's Notsuoh.
Remember the moose head? The bicycle? Yeah, they're gone. Unfortunately, the place is no bigger. When at capacity, it still feels like way too many people packed into way too small a place, especially when the crowd is as tall as they were Friday night. Seriously, if you ever need a whole bunch of tall freaks for anything, hit up either a roller-derby match, a rockabilly show or a Tim & Eric audience. Weird.
Another thing about the new Fitz is that its sound system does not appear to be configured for comedy. When Neil Hamburger took the stage in trademark slurring, mumbling character, it was nearly impossible to understand him. Sure, Hamburger frequently mutters insults and curses under his breath, but even when he was enunciating, it was difficult to make out what he was saying.
The problem seemed to be affecting others in the balcony, so we moved down below, looking for some kind of "sweet spot" where maybe the speakers coalesced into a clearer sound. It helped a little to be on the floor, but the spoken-word bits still sounded oddly canned and stuffy.
Hamburger's set went well, with his crotchety character finding plenty of time to interact with the audience. He did about ten minutes' worth of material on the Red Hot Chili Peppers, particularly Anthony Keidis, which is kind of genius. After all, Hamburger's stage persona is supposed to be ridiculously out of touch, so he had to find a celebrity to savage who would be dated, yet not so dated that no one would know who he was. Keidis and the Chili Peppers fit that description perfectly.