After a brief stint away from late-night television to make movies, music videos, and web series, Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim are back on Adult Swim with their new show. Tim and Eric's Bedtime Stories began as a half-hour special that aired last Halloween, and has since been picked up for a full season, which premiered last week. For the program, the pair trade in the green-screen and short skits that made them famous on Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job for actual sets and longer stories (though it's an anthology program so the characters change every episode). While the humor still unmistakably comes from the minds of Heidecker and Wareheim, the tone is substantially darker than that of their previous work -- to the point that the first two episodes were almost hard to watch the first time. (They go down a lot easier the second time through, thankfully.)
To support the new show, the duo are hitting the road with their first full-blown live tour since 2010, which includes a stop at the State Theatre this Friday. For the first time, they will be joined by their pal Dr. Steve Brule, as well as arguably the world's number-one joke DJ, DJ Douggpound.
We connected with Heidecker ahead of the Minnesota performance to discuss Bedtime Stories, their incredibly busy year, and the live show.
[jump] What was the thinking in making Bedtime Stories an anthology?
We wanted to do a show, but we didn't want to commit to any singular premise. We wanted to continue what we had been doing, which is have a loose place to make stuff and not worry too much about what the show is about. We liked the idea of getting to work with different people, try different styles, and play different characters without it necessarily being a skit show.
The first two episodes are quite a bit darker than most of your earlier work, including the original Bedtime Stories special. Are they representative of the rest of the season?
There are certainly episodes that are less dark, and I think there are episodes that are a little darker. But yeah, those two are generally the vibe of the show. When we went into making it, it was a bit looser. We thought, "Well, it could be whatever." There are a few episodes that might feel that way, but as we got into the thick of it we figured that we do like these darker, slightly more serious, cinematic tales. I think if we make more, we will probably head in that direction exclusively.
You and Eric have always had a knack for getting a good performance out of guest stars, and neither of you are in the second episode at all. Are there other episodes that you don't appear in?
That's the only one that we're not in at all. There's another one with Jason Schwartzman where we play a smaller part and are only in one or two scenes. It's a mix. We write the stories, and a lot of them we think about us being in the parts. But with some we think, "Why don't we adjust this to someone else, because they could do it better than us." I love watching an episode without us in it; sometimes it gets annoying to watch yourself.
What were the biggest differences between shooting Awesome Show versus Bedtime Stories?
We've always had a script, but for this series the script was a little more thought-out and planned, and there was a real plan when we went into shooting. It was a little more traditional.
Would you say this type of show is more difficult to make than Awesome Show was?
There were more production challenges because the scope and ambition of it was bigger, but it was actually really fun and smooth and our team did a great job. There were a lot of challenges with Awesome Show. The budget was smaller, so things that may seem like they were easy on Awesome Show were actually harder. The more you do anything in life, the easier it gets. The more we make stuff, the more we learn, the more we feel comfortable with the choices we make. It's been a very positive -- I don't want to say easy -- but rewarding experience.
In the last year, you became a father, released an album, starred in the web series Decker and On Cinema, and now you have a new show and tour. How are you still standing?
It did hit me last night, actually. I need a vacation. I haven't had one in a while. We're looking at -- after this tour -- sort of going dark for a while. Giving myself and everybody a break from me, a break from work. I appreciate the acknowledgement of all the work I do.
Obviously fatherhood will take a lot of your attention in the coming years, but do you plan to juggle all of those things? Or will you focus on some more than others?
Bedtime Stories would be a priority for us if we get to make more. That's something I feel like we could make a lot more of, as the format is so open ended. We have a lot more ideas in our heads. The whole business is very feast-or-famine in the way it's built. You'll be super busy, and then have nothing to do. I don't really like having nothing to do, and that's why I do these side things.
Pusswhip Banggang just released a single and went on a short tour. They were part of the show last time you were in town, will they be at this show?
No. We're very much the kind of guys that when we've done something, it's time to think of something else. So if you missed the Pusshwhip Banggang tour last time, maybe you'll get the 20-year reunion or something.
What can people who attend the show expect to see?
We're in rehearsals now. I like to think of it as a traveling Tim and Eric Broadway show. It's sketches and songs and general silliness. We have videos and Dr. Steve Brule is going to be delivering a pep-talk/kind of a one-man show. If you've been to a Tim and Eric show before, you won't be too surprised.
IF YOU GO:
Tim and Eric & Dr. Steve Brule 2014 Tour
Historic State Theatre
8 p.m. Friday, September 26
805 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612-339-7007