EVEN in a programming block known for its quirkiness -- Cartoon Network's Adult Swim -- Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim's surreal series "Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!" stands apart.
An 11-minute grab bag of sketches, music videos and mock commercials, the show combines the harsh visual aesthetic and flat acting of a corporate training video with bizarre characters typical of late-'80s public-access TV. Alongside real-life cable-access oddities such as David Liebe Hart, who croons love songs to a grimy ventriloquist's dummy with a droopy eye, there are off-the-wall characters played by Heidecker and Wareheim, such as husband-and-wife news team Jan and Wayne Skylar. And there are celebrity cameos by the likes of Jeff Goldblum, who appears as his musical alter-ego Jeff GoldBluMan Group, and John C. Reilly, in the guise of Dr. Steve Brule, creator of "Brule's Rules." (Sample rule: "Does your milk smell funny? Check the expiration date, dummy!")
After two seasons on air, "T&EASGJ;!" has developed a sizable cult following, thanks in part to the spreading of online clips as well as numerous live appearances by the duo, including at last year's Comicon and HBO's Comedy Festival. Next week, they'll release "Awesome Record, Great Songs," a collection of 43 tunes from the series, and wrap up a 13-city tour with two performances at the Echoplex.
Translating the TV show into a nightclub act posed challenges. "Live stuff needs to be loud and energetic, not rely on editing," explains Heidecker. "Most of the bits have the same qualities of the show: being absurd, awkward, uncomfortable. All those adjectives go into the live bits." In the series, the pair, who met 12 years ago at film school, are dressed in unflattering clothes, wigs and makeup. "We had some great costumes handmade for the tour," Wareheim says. "I can't describe them, because half the effect is the shock of seeing them."
A tip for those planning to attend: Be ready to duck, as one bit involves pelting the audience with pizza. "We're going a little Gallagher this year," says Wareheim. "We did a show in Canada, where they put ham on pizza. It sat around congealing for six hours before the show. We probably should have given a warning, because people were eating it!"
"I think what separates us from Gallagher is that's the beginning of the conversation with us, as opposed to the end of the conversation," Heidecker jokes. "It's trying to find out how gross can we go, how interactive can we get the show."
While a few recurring characters -- Reilly's loose-cannon doctor, for instance -- appear in the live show via video clips, several of the eccentric real-life figures, such as Hart the puppeteer, will be on hand in L.A. Though some find the lack of differentiation between the "real" and "fake" cast confusing, and possibly demeaning, Heidecker explains, "We're not making fun of them, so much as letting them do what they do and making it part of the canvas of the weirdness of the show. They love having ownership of part of the show, even if maybe they don't appreciate 100% of it.
"We're also not up there looking like Mr. Cool. We're down in the dirt looking like idiots too."
TIM & ERIC'S AWESOME TOUR
WHERE: Echoplex, 1154 Glendale Blvd., L.A.
WHEN: 8 p.m. Monday (sold out) and Tuesday
PRICE: $17; $20 at door