“We’re tired of trying to make people laugh with our humor. We want to make people cry.”
Largely overlooked comic genie Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim once again team up for their signature, home-grown blend of deadpan, satire, and gross-out humor. Their new TV show, Bedtime Stories, featuring John C. Reilly, Zach Galifianakis, and Jason Schwartzman, premieres tonight at 12:15am on Adult Swim. From the look of the trailer, Bedtime Stories seems to be a much more cinematic, narrative-based venture than we’re used to with Tim and Eric, with higher production quality and level of accessibility.
Tim and Eric are most known for their previous show on Adult Swim, Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! which ran for three years until 2010 and featured brilliantly surrealistic and often satirical humor/anti-humor, including public-access television–style musical acts, bizarre faux-commercials, and editing and special effects chosen to make the show a parody of camp. The creators of the show have described it as “the nightmare version of television.”
In line with the content of their previous television series, Bedtime Stories embraces the absurdity of American suburbia in a uniquely dark, Twilight Zone kind of way. Heidecker and Wareheim, who cite David Lynch and the Coen brothers as their storytelling influences, said that for their new series they were inspired by Louie‘s format of multiple episodes that loosely connect with recurring cameo/celebrity appearances. Unlike most of their previous work, their new series is focused much more on narrative and storytelling. “We wanted to tell little short stories that have a darker edge, kind of a nightmarish quality to them but still funny and absurd and go the opposite direction from the lo-fi aesthetic that we’ve established,” Heidecker said in a recent interview.
“I feel like most of life is a nightmare,” Wareheim said in response. “You have a couple friends and a couple beautiful moments, but everything else … and this show kind of embraces those moments of, like, ‘I cannot believe that this is really happening.'” Wareheim continued by noting that for the tone of the new series they were going for something like The Shining. “Real psychological horror, which I think we’re almost there in some of these episodes. Like, true horror. Not gore, but true really-fucking-frightening.”
Even though they seem to be approaching a well-earned level of funding, through all their work the comedic process is rooted in an intimate level of comfort that they’ve established since their filmmaking days at Temple University in Philadelphia, where they first met. “I’m trying to make Eric laugh and the cameraman laugh, and he’s trying to make me laugh when he’s on camera, and that’s always at the heart of everything we do,” Tim said. “And that’s really the end of the conversation.”
Upon being asked if perhaps they have taken comedy to the limit of where it can go, Wareheim responded: “We are going to take it beyond that limit. Just flip it inside out. It’s this ever-expanding universe of comedy and we’re just going to keep on trucking.”
Tim and Eric’s Bedtime Stories premieres tonight at 12:15am on Adult Swim.