BY JONATHAN VALANIA In advance of the Tim And Eric & Dr. Steve Brule (aka John C. Reilly) 2014 Tour stopping in Philly on Friday for two sold out shows at The Keswick, we got Temple alum Eric Wareham on the horn. DISCUSSED: Their new show Tim & Eric’s Bedtime Stories, Twilight Zone, and the horror of the every day, Bob Odenkirk, Emmet Walsh, John C. Reilly, Jason Schwartzman, Zach Galifanakis, Three Stooges, Dr. Steve Brule, Darkside, Fishtown, White Rainbow, and Philly soul.
PHAWKER: The two episodes of Bedtime Stories, your new show on Adult Swim, that I watched were very funny and really, truly unnerving. I’m not a big horror guy. I’m not easily scared, I usually just roll my eyes. But in the ‘Hole’ episode, Tim is truly frightening. The ‘Toes’ episode, which takes place is some bizarro universe where people have their toes removed for cosmetic reasons, is equally unsettling. Both are only a step or two removed from current reality. It strikes me that the subtext of Bedtime Stories is ‘the horror of the everyday’? Like the suburban dad hardass jock guy Tim plays in ‘Holes’ — I find those people terrifying.
ERIC WAREHEIM: Yeah. You couldn’t have said it better. Each of these episodes is really based on the horror of everyday life, and what’s really going on. For example, the ‘Toes’ episode is not far from plastic surgery. In Los Angeles, we see insane things: people injecting concrete into their butts, and to me that’s not too far off from being like, ‘Ah, yeah, toes are disgusting. Let’s get rid of ‘em.’ And with ‘Holes,’ I just feel like most of life is a nightmare. Just walking around and encountering people who are assholes, and your neighbors are freaks. I remember growing up, and there were a couple people in my neighborhood that I didn’t really see very often that I kind of imagined what their weird lives were like. I also had neighbors that my parents would quarrel with, and I kind of developed these little stories in my head because of the nightmare worlds in their homes, and that’s what it’s based off of. It’s also based off of this dream I had, which was the worst dream I’ve ever had in my life at this point, where everyone turned on me. Like my girlfriend, all my friends, Tim and my parents disowned me. All of this happened in one dream. It was so heavy, that when I woke up, I felt it. That’s kind of what we want to do in the show. We want to make you laugh, but we also want you to feel all of these other emotions that are part of life.
PHAWKER: Yeah, and it’s funny, but it feels like a bad dream afterwards. You sort of shiver a little bit.
ERIC WAREHEIM: Yeah, totally.
PHAWKER: I wanted to ask you about Twilight Zone, which seems to me to be a direct influence on Bedtime Stories. I’m assuming you guys are fans.
ERIC WAREHEIM: I remember watching as a kid and being really freaked out by it. There’s this one episode, I can’t remember the name, but it’s a man that wakes up and he realizes he’s the last person on the planet. He walks through the town, no one is alive. Everyone has truly disappeared. I remember that freaking me out so much, and not being able to talk to any of my family and friends again. I was like, ‘that’s awesome.’ And next week there’s a whole new story that it’s after. That’s sort of how we modeled Bedtime Stories in a way, like a sort of anthology series. Tim and I get bored really quickly of popular characters, so we like the idea of every week it’s a new tale. But they’re sort of in a little globe of what their sensibility is, for sure.
PHAWKER: The episode you’re talking about isn’t ‘Time Enough at Last’ with Burgess Meredith, where he’s a bookworm and never has time to read books, and there’s an apocalypse, he’s the only one alive and he finds himself at the main library in New York, and he’s like ‘Time enough at last to read the books I always wanted to read!’ And then he drops his glasses and steps on them?
ERIC WAREHEIM: Oh, yeah. That’s not the one I’m talking about, but I love that one.
PHAWKER: Yeah, that’s my favorite. Bob Odenkirk is always great in anything he does, and the ‘Toes’ episode is no exception. I wanted to ask you about Emmet Walsh, who is one of those great faces in character actors. Tell me about working with him, why you chose that, and I’m wondering if you got any show biz stories out of him—specifically about working with the Coen brothers.
ERIC WAREHEIM: Yeah, I mean, we asked the producers to get an Emmet Walsh-type character, and they were like, ‘We can probably get him.’ And we were like, ‘Holy shit!’ We got him, and we’re big fans. He’s just like an old-time guy, classic Hollywood grumpy actor, but he’s a total sweetheart deep down, you know? He comes on set, makes fun of everyone. And he hands everyone these old pennies. He has these old pennies from the twenties, and he gives everyone a penny. He’s a grandfather. He’s really funny.
PHAWKER: No Coen brothers stories, though?
ERIC WAREHEIM: No. I do remember talking to him about the Coen brothers, but I don’t recall exactly any good tales.
PHAWKER: I’m gonna read between the lines there and I’m gonna assume he told a really juicy story that you can’t tell without being sued .
ERIC WAREHEIM: I wish. No, I would tell you that. I can’t remember.
PHAWKER: Any other cool faces show up in future episodes that you can talk about?
ERIC WAREHEIM: Yeah. We have Jason Schwartzman starring in one, John C. Reilly stars in one with Laurie Metcalf. It’s a whole new character for him. Zach Galifianakis is in a few episodes. We have a pretty all-star cast that makes it really cool.
PHAWKER: Speaking of Zach—he’s in the pilot, which seems like a completely different direction than the two episodes that I saw. Is the pilot more of the outlier, or are the two episodes I saw the outliers.
ERIC WAREHEIM: The two episodes are more of what you’re gonna see. Zach, Tim and I have developed these insane Three Stooges characters, and we just love doing it so much that every now and then we’re gonna pepper in the very comedy classic character within this series. Because some of them are so dark, that we wanted to have a little joy here and there. Even though the keeping them in a haunted house thing is kind of a nightmare, it’s still more lighthearted than some of the other heavier episodes.
PHAWKER: OK. Jumping forward to the live show, which is half the reason we’re talking here. Tell me, what can we expect?
ERIC WAREHEIM: It’s new in that we’re co-headlining with Dr. Steve Brule. It’s gonna be half Tim and Eric, half Dr. Steve Brule. We have a brand new show. We do all new characters. It’s very interactive. It’s very anti-comedy show.
PHAWKER: How did you get hooked up with John C. Reilly, and how did the character of Dr. Steve Brule come about?
ERIC WAREHEIM: He did a voice on our cartoon, Tom Goes To The Mayor, and he sort of just liked our vibe that we had at the office. He was like, ‘I’d love to do a character with you,’ and we had a married news team, who are these crazy news correspondents. He was like, ‘What if I was a correspondent?’ Together, we came up with this character, and how messed up he was. Over time, that developed into his show.
PHAWKER: You know, I envy you for being pals with John C. Reilly. He cracks me up on sight. He doesn’t even have to open his mouth. Just makes me laugh.
ERIC WAREHEIM: Yeah, we are all his friends now, and touring is pretty fun. Fun to hang out with as well, he’s the greatest. We’re having the best time. We’re in Austin right now. We’re having the best time on the road doing this. It’s really fun for us as well. We started as musicians doing kind of experimental performances in Philly. To us, it’s like going back to our roots.
PHAWKER: I have to ask you the obligatory question: What do you miss about Philly?
ERIC WAREHEIM: Oh my God. Number one is my friends, I lived there for so many years. I have two days off, and I’m gonna hang out with them. They all moved to Fishtown. There’s lots of good restaurants, and good food. My favorite places are in Philly. Just the whole soul of it. You don’t have a lot of soul in Los Angeles, but when you come to Philly, it’s there instantly.
PHAWKER: You’re also very indie-rock identified. You had a band called The Science Of when you lived in Philly. Then were in the krautrock-influenced Sola. You’ve done a bunch of very cool videos over the years. What are you digging right now?
ERIC WAREHEIM: Musically? I love Darkside, and this band White Rainbow. They’re probably two of my favorites right now.
PHAWKER: Do you have any other music videos in the can or that’s coming up soon?
ERIC WAREHEIM: Yeah, one in November starring John C. Reilly that’s gonna be the best one I’ve ever made.
ERIC WAREHEIM: Mr. Oizo, French musician.
TIM & ERIC & DR. STEVE BRULE PERFORM TONIGHT @ THE KESWICK THEATER