Arts & Culture News

Tim Heidecker Tells Us the Secret to Making a Comedy Partnership Last for 10 Years

Tim Heidecker (left) and Eric Wareheim will celebrate the 10th anniversary of their comedy partnership with a tour that includes a stop at the Majestic Theater.
Tim Heidecker (left) and Eric Wareheim will celebrate the 10th anniversary of their comedy partnership with a tour that includes a stop at the Majestic Theater. Photo by Rickett Sones
Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim will perform at the Majestic Theatre on Monday, July 31.
Legendary comedy partnerships like Tim and Eric's don't always have a steady trajectory. They often end just as they start to pick up steam because of creative differences, promises of solo stardom or abuse of substances that both enhance and hinder the creative process. 
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Courtesy of Pitch Perfect PR

Tim Heidecker says there's no special secret to how he and his comedy partner, Eric Wareheim, have kept their creative energy and comedy relationship going for the last 10 years, during which they've constructed a comedy empire with shows like Tom Goes to the Mayor, Tim and Eric Awesome Show Great Job! and Tim and Eric's Bedtime Stories. They've also started Abso Lutely Productions company, which is responsible for many other beloved TV comedies.

"It's a little different when we first started where there was just this singular focus moving forward and going at it 100 percent at an equally shared, mutual goal," Heidecker says. "We've been able to pursue our independent interests without having to break up and not work together again, and still have common goals and our production company together."

Tim and Eric will celebrate their aluminum anniversary as a comedy duo with a tour that includes a stop at the Majestic Theater on Monday, July 31.

Tim and Eric's creative partnership started at Temple University in Philadelphia. The two met while they were in film school and made several award-winning short films together, including one that caught the eye of Bob Odenkirk, the star of HBO's Mr. Show with Bob and David and AMC's Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul.

The low-tech animation short featured Heidecker and Wareheim as two-dimensional images being reproduced using the photocopy image tool in Adobe Photoshop. The concept inspired their first series, Tom Goes to the Mayor, for Cartoon Network's newly formed Adult Swim late-night block.

Tom Goes to the Mayor, about a small-town resident with big ideas and the ear of its mayor, led to their absurdist sketch series Tim and Eric Awesome Show Great Job!.

"One joke that we love doing in our career is this self-aggrandizing, narcissistic worship of ourselves as geniuses." – Tim Heidecker

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The sketch series turned Heidecker and Wareheim into household names. It had five memorable seasons and produced spinoffs based on some of its more beloved characters, like Check It Out with Dr. Steve Brule (Academy Award nominee John C. Reilly) and a big-screen movie in 2012 called Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie.

In between all of these projects, the two also staged several live comedy tours featuring their most recognizable characters. Heidecker says it's been awhile since he and Wareheim have been on the road together, and a tour seemed like the perfect way to thank the fans for the last 10 years.

"It's been a few years since we've been out there," he says. "Last year, we were looking at our year, and it occurred to me it's been 10 years since Awesome Show came out, and that was the show that defined the way that people think about us and became our tentpole show. I didn't see anybody doing anything to celebrate that, so I thought we should get the gang together."

The idea of an anniversary tour also lends them a perfect frame for a live show, Heidecker says.

"We kind of always approach these tours as what's always fun for us and what's fun for the audience," Heidecker says. "Sometimes they interact nicely and sometimes they don't. The framing device is this 10-year anniversary, and one joke that we love doing in our career is this self-aggrandizing, narcissistic worship of ourselves as geniuses."

Heidecker and Wareheim are still writing and rehearsing the live show they're planning to bring to town at the end of the month, and Heidecker says kicking off a tour like this can be a grueling process.

"We're making it from nothing with costumes, props, cues and dancing, and that part of it is hard and fun and creative and satisfying, but it takes work, and something happens at about the fifth show where it becomes something you do every night, and then it's just autopilot," he says. "Then it's eating food from gas stations and forgetting your hotel room key and all that."

The tour is on top of other projects they're working on together, like the second season of Heidecker's Jack Bauer-esque espionage parody, Decker: Unsealed, and new stories for Tim and Eric's Bedtime Stories, which feels like a cross between Rod Serling's twisty Twilight Zone tales and Chris Morris' morbid Jam sketches.

Even when his shows go on the air and the tours are underway, Heidecker says he never feels his work is finished. He's always pushing himself to do more web series, stand-up and even solo music work. He knows anyone would be blessed to have fans who can't get enough of his or her creative output.

"I'm never satisfied," Heidecker says. "It's more like fighting to get things made and push ourselves."

Tim and Eric, 8 pm. Monday, July 31, Majestic Theatre, 1925 Elm St., $42.50,

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Danny Gallagher has been a regular contributor to the Dallas Observer since 2014. He has also written features, essays and stories for MTV, the Chicago Tribune, Maxim, Cracked, Mental_Floss, The Week, CNET and The Onion AV Club.

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