|Tim Heidecker: Comedian.|
Antartic, HUH? viewing
@ The Casbah
Part of the 3 nights at the CON presented by Impose and Art Fag Recordings
Last night was the first night of the three night "THREE NIGHTS AT THE CON" taking place at the Casbah, and brought to you by the Impose bros and Art Fag Recordings. Tonight, THREE NIGHTS AT THE CON continues with an excellent bill featuring headliners Vivian Girls, hot-selling Grass Widow supporting their new record, Dunes, supporting their new record, "Vivian Girls side project" The Babies and local up-and-comers Teenage Burrito. Hotly tipped locals Teenage Burrito?
SATURDAY Night features John Maus, hot young band Tropic of Cancer from Los Angeles and local support Divers. Divers have an upcoming release on sponsoring entity DREAM, a record label run by Art Fag Recordings head honcho Mario Orduno, who is also DJing along with Wes Eisold of the now re-united American Nightmare and Cold Cave.
Last night though, the first night of Three Nights at The Con was given over to comedy. The headliner was Tim Heidecker, of televisions Tim and Eric Awesome Show Great Job, and also of last years comedy smash hit Bridesmaids, where he had a non-speaking part. From my perspective, Tim Heidecker is the brains of the Tim & Eric outfit. I like Eric Wareheim, but I believe Heidecker to be the idea man, as they say.
Tim Heidecker's most notable recent achievement in a career that should secure him first ballot Hall of Fame of Alternative Comedy is his direct involvement in the triumphant release of Tim & Eric's Billion Dollar Movie. I say "triumphant release" because it is a triumph that this movie was made and released to the public, much in the same way the Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie is also a triumph merely because it exists.
Tim Heidecker is a clear heir and peer to Comedians like Andy Kaufman and Neil Hamburger who use stand-up comedy to confront and engage the Audience. At the same time, it is also fair to say that Tim Heideckers success has literally nothing to do with his stand-up comedy routine, which was on the menu last night.
This was the second time I'd seen a live performance by Tim Heidecker. The first time was the appearance in the guise of a live version of Tim & Eric Awesome Show Great Job during the 2009 Comic Con. I thought that show was pretty bad, and I was dismayed that one of the "directions" of the Tim & Eric Awesome Show Great Job since that time was the emergence of the minor players as touring musical/comedy Artists. I mean it was great to see and I loved every minute, but it wasn't an amazing comedy/art experience. I def. didn't review it on this blog back in 2009, which probably meant I didn't have anything to say.
I'm interested enough in Tim & Eric to read negative criticism of them and their work, and one common criticism is that they hate or disrespect their Audience. I think critics who say that are wrong, and it's more accurate to say that Tim Heidecker, in all his works, confronts his Audience and engages his Audience, but does not dislike or disrespect them. A confrontational quality is something that Artists may have or not have, but it is certainly deployed in many Artistic fields.
Part of the confrontation is the manipulation of taboo or outre materials in what can accurately be perceived as a broad attempt to "get a laugh." It is clear to me from the Audience that assembled last night that some percentage of Tim & Eric's fan base, and the Audience last night, that there are Audience members who like the taboo or outre materials, for themselves, and are not "challenged" by the material because they just think it's fucking hilarious in the same way they think Family Guy is hilarious or the way Something About Mary was hilarious. The difference between Tim Heidecker and Seth McFarland is that Seth McFarland has totally harnessed his Artistic vision to serving the market, while Tim Heidecker is interested in investigating that market.
I think it's clear that a significant portion of the Audience for comedy does not want to be challenged or confronted by their comedy. They want the yucks. I think the best way to get a sense of where the Audience for comedy in the United States is "coming from" is to watch The Bellhop by Jerry Lewis or another Jerry Lewis film.
So then it was interesting to watch Tim Heidecker's "bad on pupose" stand-up comedy a la Neil Hamburger (who, though not performing at the show, had a poster made for the event and was selling a comic book at the event.) and try to decide
1) How many people knew about Tim Heidecker's stand up act before buying tickets.
2) How many people bought tickets because they like the gross-out humor of the Tim & Eric show and were honestly disappointed by the "bad on purpose" stand-up act of Tim Heidecker.
I think it is that tension that makes his performances so interesting. I would suggest that Heidecker himself is interested by that combination of Audience members, and that he's developed his Act to function both as a suprise to ill-informed Audience members and as a virtuoso performance of Alternative Comedy by a restless master comic.
One think I'll say about the Art of stand up comedy is that the infrastructure of the cable tv show/sitcom/movie environment of the successful comic lets the Audience know who's boss (the comic.) There is a huge amount of money that sits behind the comics who get to the point where they have a tv special/show/album and tour to support it, in the same way that major label Artists in the music business are supported by a huge amount of money.
There aren't a lot of comics out there who would keep it as low profile as Tim Heidecker keeps his stand up routine.