Tim & Eric with Dr. Steve Brule: Boston - 4 October 2014

Tim & Eric, with Dr. Steve Brule in tow, shared their brand of entrancingly preposterous, thoroughly sweet comedy during an extended set in Boston's Back Bay.

Dr. Steve Brule

Tim & Eric with Dr. Steve Brule

City: Boston
Venue: Berklee Performance Center
Date: 2014-10-04

“I know you think we’re young, cool pranksters,” shared Eric Wareheim on stage Saturday night, before going on to explain how him and his partner Tim Heidecker are actually quite sensitive about how their work is received. It was all part of a bit – the duo proceeded to blindfold themselves and wear noise-canceling headphones before sharing a clip of their new anthology series, Tim & Eric’s Bedtime Stories – but it also had a ring of truth.

Because Tim & Eric’s comedy hinges on an unwavering devotion to all that is uncool. All four of the duo’s Adult Swim programs (Tom Goes to the Mayor, Tim & Eric Awesome Show Great Job!, Check It Out and Bedtime Stories) have been obsessed with outdated technology, unflattering clothes, public access talent, dads, and mispronounced words. After a decade on TV, these strange, often uncomfortably creepy fixations have congealed into a language all their own, to the point where a fan can see a t-shirt with John C. Reilly’s face and the word “Bringo” on it, and freak out with joy.

Yet over the course of its two and a half-hour set at Berklee Performance Center, the duo, along with Reilly in character as Dr. Steve Brule, refused to coast on their back catalog. Other than the presence of Brule and his long-running “Channel 5 News” partners Jan & Wayne Skylar, the only Awesome Show-related sketch was a revival of the Cinco Brothers, a forgettable late-season send-up of d-bag corporate shills.

After a delightfully corny opening set by DJ Douggpound – which included the greatest mash up of Lil Jon and Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor you’re ever bound to hear – Tim & Eric took the stage in khakis and hideous velour button-downs, thanking us for our support through song while cheap stock imagery of handshakes rotated behind them. The ridiculous, singsong celebration had the feel of a children’s concert, a sensibility that really never subsided. After pretending that they planned to improvise the whole show, and then pretending to botch these improvisations, the duo then sang a triumphant little ditty about how they tricked us all. Despite all the f-bombs and diarrhea sound effects, this sequence was both entrancingly preposterous and kinda sweet.

The set was long, but never felt that way, thanks in part to the Bedtime Stories sneak peek that broke up the proceedings during set changes. While still clearly a Tim & Eric creation, this show has a noticeably bigger budget than anything they’ve done, and the higher production values that make the weird stuff feel all the weirder. The Jason Schwartzman-starring episode they screened had a really disturbing ending, almost as disturbing as an earlier one where Bob Odenkirk plays a doctor who cuts off people toes.

A bigger reason that the show never lagged: Act Two was all Dr. Steve Brule. From the second he ran up the aisle from the back of the venue, out of breath and carrying a backpack of VHS tapes, Reilly completely inhabited his character – a very dumb, very lovable local health reporter in a shiny brown suit and unruly curls. On Awesome Show, Brule was basically there to deliver timeless one-liners (e.g. “If you’re raking the leaves and it gets all over your driveway, just hose it off, dummy!”). But over the course of three seasons of his spin-off, Check it Out, Reilly has evolved the character into somebody we root for, a guy who will never stop throwing himself out into the world, no matter how many times it makes him throw up.

Our emotional connection to Brule was solidified with his opening “slideshow,” entitled “Who Is Me?” We learned that he had a sister who died in a ferris wheel accident, that his mom made him wear a wig to high school, that he was “brullied” a lot. It was all delivered matter of factly, Reilly adding that defensive-yet-transparent “so what” tone to Brule’s voice that is both very funny, and more than a bit tender.

After an extended bit of crowd participation, where Brule had some folks do a “Human Treasure Hunt” in the audience and proceeded to beautifully mispronounce all their names, Tim & Eric returned to the stage in the guise of Jan and Wayne Skylar, whose ongoing love-triangle drama with Brule reached a hysterical climax. People broke into song; the sick walked again; Tim wore an amazing wedding dress that let his lower body breathe.

By the end, it looked like Dr. Steve Brule had found a bit of love. And as we laughed, we realized that we also cared.





The Durutti Column's 'Vini Reilly' Is the Post-Punk's Band's Definitive Statement

Mancunian guitarist/texturalist Vini Reilly parlayed the momentum from his famous Morrissey collaboration into an essential, definitive statement for the Durutti Column.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

What Will Come? COVID-19 and the Politics of Economic Depression

The financial crash of 2008-2010 reemphasized that traumatic economic shifts drive political change, so what might we imagine — or fear — will emerge from the COVID-19 depression?


Datura4 Take Us Down the "West Coast Highway Cosmic" (premiere)

Australia's Datura4 deliver a highway anthem for a new generation with "West Coast Highway Cosmic". Take a trip without leaving the couch.


Teddy Thompson Sings About Love on 'Heartbreaker Please'

Teddy Thompson's Heartbreaker Please raises one's spirits by accepting the end as a new beginning. He's re-joining the world and out looking for love.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Little Protests Everywhere

Wherever you are, let's invite our neighbors not to look away from police violence against African Americans and others. Let's encourage them not to forget about George Floyd and so many before him.


Carey Mercer's New Band Soft Plastics Score Big with Debut '5 Dreams'

Two years after Frog Eyes dissolved, Carey Mercer is back with a new band, Soft Plastics. 5 Dreams and Mercer's surreal sense of incongruity should be welcomed with open arms and open ears.


Sondre Lerche Rewards 'Patience' with Clever and Sophisticated Indie Pop

Patience joins its predecessors, Please and Pleasure, to form a loose trilogy that stands as the finest work of Sondre Lerche's career.


Ruben Fleischer's 'Venom' Has No Bite

Ruben Fleischer's toothless antihero film, Venom is like a blockbuster from 15 years earlier: one-dimensional, loose plot, inconsistent tone, and packaged in the least-offensive, most mass appeal way possible. Sigh.


Cordelia Strube's 'Misconduct of the Heart' Palpitates with Dysfunction

Cordelia Strube's 11th novel, Misconduct of the Heart, depicts trauma survivors in a form that's compelling but difficult to digest.


Reaching For the Vibe: Sonic Boom Fears for the Planet on 'All Things Being Equal'

Sonic Boom is Peter Kember, a veteran of 1980s indie space rockers Spacemen 3, as well as Spectrum, E.A.R., and a whole bunch of other fascinating stuff. On his first solo album in 30 years, he urges us all to take our foot off the gas pedal.


Old British Films, Boring? Pshaw!

The passage of time tends to make old films more interesting, such as these seven films of the late '40s and '50s from British directors John Boulting, Carol Reed, David Lean, Anthony Kimmins, Charles Frend, Guy Hamilton, and Leslie Norman.


Inventions' 'Continuous Portrait' Blurs the Grandiose and the Intimate

Explosions in the Sky and Eluvium side project, Inventions are best when they are navigating the distinction between modes in real-time on Continuous Portrait.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.