Good news, kids: If you happened to drop the ball on catching inventive comedy duo Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim's Tim & Eric's Billion Dollar Movie when it opened in limited release in early March, or just want to watch it again and again, you'll be able enjoy first, second, and even 100th servings of the bonkers flick thanks to its release on DVD and Blu-ray today.
Written and directed by the twosome, who gained an impressive cult following with their twisted sketch series Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, B$M follows the pair as they blow a hefty budget on a flop of a movie and try to earn the money back before facing the wrath of its livid funders, the Schlaaang Corporation. Naturally, the guys do what anyone would do when faced with that situation: attempt to breathe life back into a seedy mall. Weird spiritual awakenings, bizarre sex, and "shrim" (a special bathing ritual we doubt you'll be trying anytime soon) ensue.
Complex recently chatted with the Heidecker and Wareheim about their movie's unique conception, bringing nightmares to life, and what makes them squirm.
One of the things that makes your comedy fun, weird, and especially fascinating to watch is the utter randomness of it all. Reflecting on past sketches of yours, like "Bub Bubs" or "Steve Mahanahan," it's hard not to wonder: How do these ideas come to you?
Eric Wareheim: Tim and I have a very strict set of rules and ideas that we both think are really funny. For example, "Steve Mahanahan" is the idea of making fun of a really horrible situation: kids and a dad-like figure. And "Bub Bubs" is more of the same, with these weird older guys dancing and trying to win the affection of this woman. They might seem random, but most of our stuff is based on these things that we find really humorous and dark and mysterious and funny.
Do you guys usually sit down and bounce ideas off one another, or do they tend to come to you at more unexpected moments?
Eric: Yeah, I have a little notepad on my bedside table. It won’t be a dream, but I’ll wake up and have these thoughts and write them down, and sometimes ten-percent of them are legible. And other times it does take me sitting down and saying, “I’m going to write right now,” but we don’t do current events or anything like that, so it’s a different kind of personal process: just trying to make Tim laugh.
So we can assume most of these surges of inspiration arrive in a sober state?
Tim Heidecker: All of them do. There’s not any value in doing any kind of drugs or hallucinogenics to create these ideas. The trippy, psychedelic elements come much later. The original writing and ideas are based on some sort of reality; the writing doesn’t include the weird craziness. That gets added to the sketch in the editing process.
Eric: There’s no doubt we construct these bits with the idea in mind that we don’t want it to look normal. We want it to look like a nightmare or a colorful version of reality. It is trippy to watch our show; the color palettes that we use and the way that we edit it and the filters, it does kind of heighten your senses in a way, but we never make anything thinking, “This will be so good when you’re high.” It happens to be really good when you’re high, but that’s not really where it comes from.
In Billion Dollar Movie, the Schlaaang commercial felt like a very fitting intro. The second you hear that cheesy music, it’s reminiscent of the start of an Awesome Show sketch. Was that a deliberate move? What struck you about it as just the right kick-off?
Eric: Yeah, we wanted to play with the idea of making a movie and horrible additions that people are doing to movies, like making everything 3D and having to sit in a stupid chair—that was part of it. We also wanted that kind of Cinco-feeling commercial to start out, which is just a product that is a nightmare. We also did want people who knew The Awesome Show to start out thinking, “This is cool. I remember this fun kind of thing.”
With all of those special features, including needles in one's arm, pumping fluids causing them to experience the sensations of a movie's characters, what do you think the ultimate worst movie would be to watch in a Schlaaang seat?
Tim: J. Edgar. That was the first movie I thought of, one of the worst movies I’ve seen in a long time.
Infomercials definitely appear to be a running theme with your projects. They can also be very reminiscent of those work training videos that you can tell were made in the ‘80s. Is there a special place in your heart for those? Are there any in particular that have informed your work?
Eric: I think one that Tim and I both really love was the chop thing… What was that one, Tim?
Tim: The Magic Bullet?
Eric: Yeah, just the way that that stupid family was kind of put together and they were making each other breakfast and stuff. That one really got to me. But we’ve really been into that kind of thing for a long time, selling products that are crappy in our Cinco commericals, and also the idea of an infomercial is big inspiration.
What were you guys like of kids? Do you think your senses of humor have remained pretty consistent?
Tim: We were basically the same as we are now, only children. When we were very young, we developed an adult sensibility, adult personalities, and adult voices, so I’ve been like this since I was like eleven.
Eric: Yeah, I’ve always been an old man at heart.
You guys met your freshman year of college. What was plastered all over your walls?
Eric: I had pictures of hardcore bands, punk rock bands, and things like that.
Tim: I was into the Red Hot Chili Peppers, so there was lots of Anthony Kiedis posing with Flea, and I also played the bass, so there were lots of bass guitar posters.
Having effectively become adults together, do you think your history has really helped you stay on the same wavelength in terms of humor?
Eric: Yeah, we’ve been friends for a long time, and you slowly develop little things and characters and ideas and it all started in the dorms of Temple University, just fuckin’ around with shit. Pretty much exactly what we’re doing right now, which is kind of amazing, except the movie’s a little bit higher end.