I wasn’t sure what to expect from Tim & Eric’s Bedtime Stories. I had seen Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim‘s previous show (Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!) and I’ve been fond of their humor for a long time, but I wasn’t sure if this was just going to be another extension of the Awesome Show aesthetic. It isn’t. Bedtime Stories is a much more cinematic effort, and it’s brutally dark (yet amazingly funny). With guest stars ranging from Zach Galifianakis to Gillian Jacobs to Bob Odenkirk, the show has a lot of variety, but also retains Heidecker and Wareheim’s unique voice. The three episodes I screened may not be for everybody, but those who connect with them will find them utterly sublime.
I recently hopped on the phone with Eric Wareheim to talk about the show, how it differs from Awesome Show, and the brutality of life itself. Hit the jump to check it out. Tim & Eric’s Bedtime Stories premieres tonight, September 18th at 12:15AM PT/ET (so technically tomorrow), on Adult Swim.
ERIC WAREHEIM: Yeah we made Billion Dollar Movie and then we made some short films for HBO that were kind of dark, cinematic and moody. It just felt right that our next project would be a more cinematic experience. We’re sort of known for these lo-fi things, but we started out studying Stanley Kubrick. And we just wanted a little more time to tell a story and showcase these characters.
Your sense of humor is very much your own, with this series do you work from the payoff backwards or do you just envision what happens when one personality type collides with another?
WAREHEIM: That’s kind of a double-whammy. With Holes [episode 2] we always had the idea of this guy digging a hole and a neighbor is like, “what the fuck is going on?” And then he eventually figures out that’s where the neighbor is going to bury him. We sort of had the ending first. I was based off a dream I’d had, the most horrible nightmare I’d ever experienced in which my ex-girlfriend turned on me and was on heroin, my family disowned me and I murdered Tim. All in one dream. It was like being left alone with nobody, which is a kind of classic Twilight Zone idea. We kind of took that concept of everyone turning on someone and went from there.
WAREHEIM: Oh totally. We’re on tour right now and we’ve been showing that as an episode for people to watch together and people really reacted. We didn’t think it was so horrible because we were there making it with the plastic and the fake blood, but there’s something about your toes… but we love the horror element of it as well. The real, true scary stuff. My favorite part of this is that with some episodes, you’re actually not left laughing. We have an episode that has John C. Reilly where he is just fucked with the whole episode by all of these people. And at the very end, this woman who he thinks loves him says she was just kidding. And he literally loses his mind and has a breakdown. And it just ends on this shot of him destroyed. I showed that to my girlfriend and she asked if we could watch an episode of Seinfeld before we went to bed. It’s just really disturbing. We want something new, we want to create these new feelings. And to us, this is what’s really funny now.
There’s something about a line like, “I’m your dad now, want to go sailing?” That just reminds me of how my friends and I would joke around growing up. That’s the closest I’ve seen anyone get.
Yeah that’s something we get all the time. Our fans say, “this is exactly what me and my friends joke about in our basement. How do you get into our brains?” And that’s the best compliment because we’re doing comedy that comes from our hearts and it’s not meant for anyone but us. Luckily we’re given the freedom to actually do it.
And you feel like you would be told you can’t do it, so you don’t even try.
Yeah. You need a feel good ending or you need to wrap this up in a certain way. We’ve been so lucky on Adult Swim that they give us full creative freedom to do whatever we want. That’s one of our favorite lines too.
You seem to be interested in total upheaval. Every one of the episodes has someone’s life being either decimated, changed or ended.
As I get older now, I’m 38, and I think the heaviness of the world is really getting to us. Just how fucked up everything is. This series is sort of our comment on our own mortality in a way. Any day now, we’re gone. A lot of people shy away from that, but we’re just kind of embracing it and making it our own. These horrible things that happen to humans. But we try to do it in a way where people can laugh about it.