[3 December 2010]
December 5th is approaching and you know what that means don’t you? Chrimbus of course! For those of you who are unfamiliar with the traditions of Chrimbus I ask that you direct your attention towards the holiday’s ambassadors, Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim.
Chrimbus is not about chimneys, reindeers, generosity nor giving. On the contrary it is a lunch holiday best celebrated in office cafeterias that focuses on gift receiving and bushes. According to Tim and Eric tradition, the fabled “Winter Man” travels through forests inspecting Chrimbus bushes near and far. Ideal Chrimbus bushes are kept round and proud, compact, trimmed, decorated and wet. Those who maintain well-manicured shrubs are rewarded with gifts from Winter Man. So, what are you going to get for Chrimbus?
This year my gift came early in the form of two back-to-back live performances by the luminaries of Chrimbus, Tim and Eric. The innovative geniuses behind Adult Swim comedies Tom Goes to the Mayor and Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! stopped by the Vic Theatre and together, Tim and Eric galloped around stage charming two sold-out crowds with a live variety show of colorful and perverse pageantry. The live performance was a monster incarnation of their hit Awesome Show including a combination of sketch comedy, short films and rock concert.
Together Tim and Eric delighted fans with an enthusiastic folly of offbeat comedy matched by flamboyant costumes and eccentric personalities. There are not enough words in the English language to describe what went down onstage; it was a blitzkrieg of all things bizarre, weird, enthusiastic, grotesque, ridiculous, sensational, hilarious and then some. Tim and Eric’s Chrimbus Spectacular was Broadway on a psychotropic drug trip, set in a man’s world of cross dressing renegade comedy.
Opening both shows was Neil Hamburger, a grease-ball comedian with a lewd sense of humor. Hamburger took stage sporting a mismatched thrift store tux, oily comb over and trout pout. He held an abundance of drinks in his arms as he paced the stage, splashing those in front with each “bah” and gag into the mic. Hamburger’s humor banked on awkward and foul, with humor pushing the offensive mark without completely crossing the line. (My personal favorite bit involved Kenny G and STDs). During the second show Hamburger appeared slightly rougher inserting an increase of f-bombs and jabs at the audience; he ultimately ditched his bounty of beverages onstage and retrieved a pocketknife from his jacket. Blade out Hamburger paced the stage in agitation, waving his knife over a can of alleged canned enchiladas. Hamburger’s sets were short, about 15 to 20 minutes apiece, which was more than enough.
Following Hamburger was the main event, the official Chrimbus Spectacular. In a frenzy of sequence, receding hairlines and high-wasted onesies Tim and Eric danced, kicked and clapped around their Chrimbus bush, singing carols and spreading Chrimbus merriment. Together Tim and Eric explained the joys of Chrimbus and gifted fortunate audience members packages of shrimp. They even did some personal gift exchanging, which resulted in Eric presenting himself in an embellished hairy nudie suit to Tim. The bit was tacky and over the top, enough to give Donny and Marie a run for their money.
Following the Chrimbus cheer Tim and Eric rotated between short films and live sketches featuring characters both old and new. They resurrected their alter egos Jim Heckler and Derrick Whipple (the hottest veejays to hit cable television since Jesse Camp) to prank and “sketch” the audience, followed by Dr. Jimes Tooper and Dr. H. Donna Gust to deliberate the universe. Splitting up the bits was an array of short films featuring Awesome Show’s signature low budget public access and infomercial parodies. Some of the duo’s old friends made big screen cameos including: David Liebe Hart, Dr. Steve Brule (John C. Reilly), Pierre (Ron Austar), and Tairy Greene (Zach Galifianakis). For all of the Star Trek: Next Generation geeks in attendance there was an ongoing salute to Michael Dorn for his character Worf. I’m sure it would have meant the world to the Tim and Eric community if Worf landed for Chrimbus.
Transitioning to the music portion of the show was a pitch for the next chapter in The Blues Brothers films, Blues Brothers 2012. Really what better way to high-five Chicago than with a pitch for the Blues Brothers? Tim and Eric were not the Jake and Elwood Blues you may know; these brothers doubled as schmoozing spokesmen for the “film’s” sponsor Terminix, a roach repellent company. Together they sang a medley of songs parodying everyone from Eric Clapton to the Village People, all while plugging references to Terminix. The singing and dancing did not end there; for the big finale Tim and Eric put on a full 45-minute rock concert as Pusswhip Banggang.
Pusswhip Banggang were the evening’s real headliners and glorious to say the least. The essence of sex, drugs and rock n’ roll was brought to life in a colorful spectacle of psychedelic garage rock. Between their stage presence and sound Pusswhip Banggang was a cross between Iron Butterfly and Spinal Tap. Each member wore resale garb from the 1960s, complete with a bounty of spandex and fringe. The band performed classics from the Awesome Show catalogue including “Jambalaya”, “Petite Feet”, “Sports” and more.
The performance was surreal in that it united serious howling guitars, funky bass, soaring keys and driving beats with classic Tim and Eric ditties. The only thing missing was the highlight of keytar, but then again it may have been too cutting edge for Pusswhip. The band gave it their all during the first show, humping their instruments and running around stage fortifying vibrant and dynamic energy. In response the audience pledged their allegiance to Pusswhip via animated singing and eccentric dancing.
For the second show it seemed the band’s energy, and possibly patience, were running low. The audience appeared rowdier and slightly unrestrained compared to the first round. In response, songs and antics, such as Tim sexually crucifying Eric with his guitar during “Brownie Mountain”, were rushed and shortened leaving some of the ridiculous behind. The bass player continuously disappeared off stage and the band’s general fatigue turned confrontational. Tim lashed out with glaring humor at several audience members for disrupting the flow of the show. The best was directed towards a male for fiddling with his phone for an extended period of time directly in Tim’s line of vision. (Tim led a “douchebag” chant until the perpetrator exited the front row). Both shows sought out crowd participation by bringing three chosen fans onstage to reenact a high school prom implicating an adulterous affair for “Come Over”.
By the end of the night Tim and Eric were dripping sweat and gasping for air, while their fans cried out for more. Their Chrimbus Spectacular was quite the sight to witness and if you missed it in your city, well I feel sorry for you. For those who missed the chance to celebrate Chrimbus live with Tim and Eric, check out Adult Swim on Cartoon Network December 5th for the official Awesome Show one hour Chrimbus special. Until then do not forget to keep your Chrimbus bush trimmed and wet.