Daniel Powell 1 p.m., Feb. 7
Tim and Eric's $275.00 Interview
Bad taste stalks me with a near John Warnock Hinckley-like intensity. I sat amongst the opening-nighters when Pink Flamingos premiered and was the first kid on the block to discover Jackass. Having never seen an episode of Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! or Funny or Die Presents..., it was just a matter of time before Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim splattered against my windshield.
I hate to admit how many times I laughed out loud during this proud and debased assault on cinema. (When the gross-outs slow down, there is always the lighting and camera placement to keep one chuckling.)
When the film ended and the PR rep informed the group that Tim and Eric would be available for phone interviews, the crowd dispersed faster than if he had yelled “FIRE!” I gladly took the bait.
Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie is vulgar, distasteful, staggeringly offensive, and very funny for it. It starts today at Landmark's Ken Cinema.
Scott: Let’s get the major complaint out of the way. You two are like cockroaches: in the end you outlive everyone and everything except Spielberg. You had every opportunity to kill the man, who along with George Lucas is responsible for everything that’s wrong with contemporary cinema and you didn’t. Why not?
Eric Wareheim: You’re right. Well, at least we made him look like a fool.
Scott: He does that in every one of his films.
Eric: Scott, I’m sorry. You’re right. If I could go back and fix it I would.
Scott: Thank you! I grew up in Chicago, and not unlike you have an affinity for public-access programming. Give me a few examples of the televised gibberish you grew up worshipping.
Eric: I used to watch a show on Saturday morning’s called Al Albert’s Showcase. It was an old creepy guy in a tuxedo that looked like they threw some black duvetyne in front of the local news desk. They head these 4 or 5-year-old kids on in the confirmation outfits singing and doing stand-up comedy. It was really creepy.
Scott: In Chicago we had something called Polka Combat. It was a bunch of old Polish people backed by polka music and playing kids games like who could pull the Kleenex out of the box faster. It was really quite surreal.
Tim Heidecker: We had one on out local channel that would show polkas. I grew up in a Pennsylvania Dutch area and they had one camera. They would show a polka band and old people waltzing around for an hour in prime time.
Scott: And you watch because you can't look away.
Eric: I know. There are so many characters out there.
John C. Reilly.
Scott: John C. Reilly has worked for Terrence Malick, Roman Polanski, and Martin Scorsese. He was nominated for an Academy Award, for goodness sake. Do you have nude photos of him attending a NAMBLA meeting?
Tim: Actually, he came to Tim and Eric right after shooting the Polanski film. He was doing a lot of scenes in Paris and he flew right to Taquitoland.
Eric: With all the great movies he’s been in -- he’s such a great dramatic actor -- he always had a comic sensibility to him, even in some of those dramas. He’s a really funny guy and he’s got a real grounded history with loving comedy. When we first met him, we found kindred spirits in each other. He comes from a small theatre background where there’s a lot of improvisation and experimenting. Another Chicago guy. He was just a natural fit for us.
Tim: We’re lucky he’s so talented, but he’s also a normal funny guy.
Scott: Particularly in this role. Goofing on the mentally challenged has been done to death in movies, but Reilly manages to bring something new and funny to the concept.
Eric: He’s not really that mentally challenged. He’s just so sick and almost like a wild child who was raised by wolves.
Scott: He’s not going to win any major acting awards, but you must admit that his presence adds credibility to your movie as do many of the other celebrity friends you got to participate.
Tim: That’s what a comedy is supposed to be about. Jokes and funny people doing funny things and I think that gets lost in a lot of these bigger movies.
Scott: I posted the following on my Facebook wall: “I am interviewing Tim and Eric in an hour. Any questions?” Apart from a few wise-asses who left, “Who are Tim & Eric?” I did receive a question from a serious admirer of yours. It comes from a “friend” named Sharon. Sharon is 16 years old...
Scott: I know, right? She lives in Port Jervis, New York. We have never met, but I thought you might find it interesting that Sharon and I share two friends in common: Christine McIntyre and Joe Besser. She write: “I love Tim and Eric! I watch Tim and Eric Awesome Show every day! You should ask them how they came up with their amazing and very random show ideas. Oh, and you're VERY lucky to meet them! I'm jealous! ‘I'm neva gonna wipe my butt, he's neva neva neva gonna wipe his butt!’”
Tim: Oh, boy.
Scott: See the influence you have on the youth of America? You’re laughing at me? Between this and little Jeffrey in your movie, maybe I need to put in a call to CPS. So answer the kid’s question for her. How do you come up with you ideas?
Tim: There’s no way to tell. You just have ideas. People come up with ideas all the time. Some of them are about what color to paint a wall. Some of them are ideas for songs or sketches.
Eric: A lot of people think we go in the woods, do some drugs, and willy-nilly write it down. It’s actually a very conventional writing process. Tim and I sit in a room, probably get lunch, wtire down a lot of ideas, work...
Tim: The germination of an idea is very simple. There is a period where you don’t have the idea and then you have it. The idea usually isn’t fully formed. It could just be a word or a concept. And then you sit down and work it out, trying to find the proper way to execute that idea.
Scott: What is Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie Pledge all about and why are so many of your celebrity friends taking it? I mean, they’re your friends. Can’t you burn them a DVD?
Eric: We know that a lot of our fans are very web-savvy. A lot of the people that watched out TV show downloaded it for free. Tim and I would like to continue making movies and the only way to do that is to get people to actually pay to see this thing. It was out on the internet a month before the film’s theatrical release. We wanted to open up the conversation in a humorous way to get our friends to say, “I’m not going to do this and you shouldn’t either.”
Scott: This is already out on VOD. What incentive can you possibly give people to Tim & Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie when it opens today at Landmark’s Ken Cinema?
Eric: A lot of people are waiting. A lot of fans who are film-lovers like us want to see it in the theatre. And there’s other people who don;t go to the movies anymore because they have a nice home setup. Then there’s the die-hard fans that will watch it at home a couple of times and then go and watch it in a theatre. It is a group experience. It’s kind of like a roller coaster ride, very dynamic with highs and lows and laughs.
Tim: If you’re lucky enough to live in a big city where high culture is appreciated, you should take advantage of this opportunity to see a fine feature film in a theatre.
Scott: I saws it in a theatre. I much prefer a theatrical experience, particularly for my maiden viewing.
Eric: I agree. It’s a completely different experience. Sometimes you watch something on your computer and you wind up checking your email. Some movies it’s important to have yourself locked in there for two hours.
Scott: A couple of comments about the cast. Thanks for bringing Robert Loggia back. Not unlike what you were saying about John C. Reilly, Loggia has a way with comedy. I’ll never forget Mr. Eddie in David Lynch’s Lost Highway.
Tim: We were big fans of his work and he’s worked with us before on one of our cartoons. We just asked him to bring that energy, that evilness, and that lunacy and he did.
Scott: Who is the older woman with the mumble mouth? Is that Mary Bly?
Scott: Forget about a sitcom: they should give Mary her own network. She’s a natural!
Eric: We worked with her on the Awesome show. She’s like George Burns’ wife Gracie Allen. Everything that comes out of her mouth is gold.
Scott: She’a a natural in the same sense as someone like Miss Edie in Pink Flamingos or Larry ‘Bud’ Melman from the glory days of Late Night with David Letterman.
Scott: Where did you find her?
Eric: We find just about everybody in the traditional method of going on casting websites. She came in and audition and right away the producer brought her to out attention.
Scott: Is she the same way when the cameras aren’t rolling?
Eric: Pretty much. She’s a really sweet old lady. She's not turning anything on and off.
Scott: Is she in on the joke?
Eric: She knows this is a comedy and we’re not...we don’t tell her to do very much. We just feed her the lines and they come out in a way that is just unbelievable.
Scott: You’re going up against The Lorax. Your thoughts.
Tim: I just got a Tweet from a fan on Twitter that said, “I just saw a Lorax ad and remembered I had to buy Billion Dollar Movie tickets for me and my wife.” It’s free advertising.
Scott: Thank God you’re not competing for the same audience.
Tim: Exactly. It’s an R-rated movie and we’re not expecting many kids. Parents can drop the kids off at The Lorax and sneak into Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie.
Scott: I’m shocked that you got away with an R-rating based on the penile prosthesis.
Eric: We were surprised, too. We speculate they knew it was fake and so super-silly that they kind of let it go.
Scott: So what’s next on the horizon?
Tim: Tim and Eric’s Trillion Dollar Movie!
Scott: No one has ever answered this question: Name a comedian who has never made you laugh.
Eric: Do you have an hour?
Scott: Go ahead.
Eric: I don’t want to throw anybody under the bus...
Scott: See! There you go!
Eric: Billy Crystal.
Scott: You saw the Academy Awards.
Eric: I didn’t. I know better than to watch.
Scott: If you’re movie cost a billion dollars, what was this interview worth to you?
Eric: Let me do the math. $275.00.
Click for showtimes.
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