BY SCOTT COLAN With hack ventriloquist Jeff Dunham and his quasi-racist puppets scoring unprecedented ratings on Comedy Central, you could assume that the state of comedy in America is in as bad a shape as the national economy. Fear not, Philadelphia’s own Tim & Eric and their show “Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!” provides respite from the mouth breathers and the ankle biters. Their dark comedic surrealism puts them among the latest in a lineage that stretches from Monty Python to SCTV to Kids in the Hall to Bob and David. And now the torch has been passed to Tim and Eric. Here’s hoping they do a Richard Pryor with it. Catch them now before the Hollywood machinery grinds them to dust and sprinkles them into monetarily necessary supporting roles, like playing wacky neighbors on According to Jim, lecherous defendants on CSI or ambiguously gay best friends in the latest Dane Cook movie.
PHAWKER: So, am I talking to Tim, Eric? Both?*
TIM AND ERIC: Both.
PHAWKER: I want to talk about the Philly band called “The Science Of.” You played in that band, correct?
ERIC: I did, yep.
PHAWKER: I just wanted to know if you have any fond recollections of Philly, anything like that. Playing at the TLA, was that a significant moment for you?
ERIC: I played the TLA when I was in high school. I was in a metal band called Strength, and we opened up for Morbid Angel. Probably one of the best moments of my life.
PHAWKER: Morbid Angel, my god. What was the other band again, Strength?
ERIC: Yeah, it was called Strength, like a hardcore metal band. That was like a dream come true. I was in lots of other smaller bands later that played, just, really small venues.
PHAWKER: So do you guys have any ambivalent feelings now that enrollment at Temple’s film school has increased because of you guys?
TIM: Hah. Is that a fact?
PHAWKER: Would be funny if it did, but I would say yes, it’s a fact.
TIM: That sounds great. Great way to waste four years of your life.
ERIC: The only thing we got out of film school is that Tim and I met each other.
TIM AND ERIC: Pumpers And Tumblers
PHAWKER: For the new album, did you hire any outside guys like studio musicians? Like Toto guitarist Steve Lukather for all the guitar parts, or is that just you?
TIM: No, it’s mostly our composer [inaudible] or me. He’s responsible for every sound that you hear, no outsiders.
PHAWKER: And who’s your casting agent? How does one say “get me Louie Anderson” and that happens?
TIM: It’s actually our producer, who just gets on the phone everyday and calls agents and managers, just puts offers out. Y’know, very boring.
PHAWKER: Yeah, I can imagine. Was it hard for you originally, since when you guys were starting out, it was just you two, and you were gradually adding on outside people. How big is your staff now, like 20 people?
PHAWKER: Was it weird in the beginning, kind of delegating as well as letting go of authority to get the show rolling?
TIM?: Yeah, we had to kind of find editors that had to know how to edit in my style, and I kind of had to edit on my own which just made everything look really just crappy and disjointed, so we had to find people who could do that and add their own spin to it, which makes it even better. Now we totally trash the editors, which is great stuff.
PHAWKER: Well, when you’re looking for an editor, is it that they’re so good that they can recognize homemade recordings or bad public access stuff that easily, or that they have to just be head and shoulders above everything?
TIM: We’ve been fortunate enough to work with the same guys since our cartoon “Tom Goes to the Mayor,” so we all kind of developed our style along the way. John Chrysler our head editor and director, he came to us with his own sort of style; that kind of crappy karaoke videos kind of stuff. It was along with his aesthetic that we developed the look of the show, I would say.
PHAWKER: Well it looks great. And now that you guys are like officially famous, kind of like a weird lineage of Cheech and Chong, to Bob and David, to Tim and Eric, are you having weird moments where people think you’re funny when you’re trying not to be?
TIM: Can’t recall any incidents that line up with that.
ERIC: Well it’s a little strange now since we’re on the road and we get it a lot more on the road. We’re also traveling around in a bus that has our giant heads on the side, so it’s certainly a magnet for fans. I would say our fan base is still pretty small in the world of fame compared to someone like Frank Caliendo.
PHAWKER: Oh, Frank Caliendo is huge.
ERIC: He’s a very special, popular comedian.
PHAWKER: He does very good impressions. Never anyone under 50, though.
TIM: He’s sort of an inspiration [detectable whiff of sarcasm].
PHAWKER: So have you kind of noticed your humor seeping into popular culture? I’m seeing a lot of SNL skits that kind of remind me of you guys, or is it some weird synergy? I hate that word.
TIM: It’s probably a little of both. I think we’ve probably influenced or inspired some people there and maybe have made them think about doing things differently in certain sketches, but we really don’t care.
PHAWKER: Alright, one last question. Abbey Brooks, is she going to be in anymore of your videos? Fabulous, fabulous actress.
ERIC: I don’t know, I don’t think so. We kinda used her up. Filled her up, filled her up with junk. I dunno, pass.
PHAWKER: Alright guys, thank you very much for taking the time.
TIM & ERIC PERFORM THURSDAY AT THE TLA. THE SHOW IS SOLD OUT.
*Warning, this is quite possibly the un-funniest Q&A with two comedians we have EVER read.