Tim and Eric Awesome Show Great Job!: Dads (series premiere)
(S01E01) I have no plans to review this new series from Eric Wareheim and Tim Heidecker every week as I did their last series for Adult Swim, Tom Goes to the Mayor, mostly because this new series is so random and eclectic it'd be almost impossible to write a coherent review every week.
I became a fan of Tim and Eric a couple years before Tom Goes to the Mayor was developed for Adult Swim, having stumbled upon the various shorts on their Web site. What immediately struck me was not just that these men were funny, but that their humor was constructed within an entirely different paradigm. I imagine it's somewhat how American audiences first responded to Monty Python, which at the time must have been so different from what people were used to that many were simply turned off by it. I'm not making a direct comparison between Monty Python and Awesome Show, but I am saying there's a difference between comedy that works because it's been done before countless times, and comedy that really dares to be different.
It's that drive to be unique that makes Awesome Show pull my brain in about three hundred different directions. It's easy to think of the show as just being weird for weirdness' sake, but that's selling it short. Tom Goes to the Mayor focused inept civic planning and small town pride through a surrealistic lens, whereas Awesome Show focuses the very concept of comedy through that same lens. Watching this new series is like being a fish pulled from water: it's not just about adjusting to Tim and Eric's oddball humor, it's about adjusting to an entirely new reality.
Subjectively, that can be either good or bad. Some may choose to stay where things make sense while others will gleefully follow Tim and Eric down the rabbit hole. My first inclination is that I'm not going to enjoy this new series as much as I enjoyed Tom Goes to the Mayor -- while most of the sequences were very funny, some were just too abstract to wrap my brain around. I spent more time trying to figure out why a sketch was funny instead of just enjoying the sketch. Then, there are other moments when I actually do understand the deeper meaning behind what is ostensibly a meaningless gag.
Tom Goes to the Mayor was strange, but it stayed within a certain framework and could be appreciated if you understood it wasn't the kind of passive comedic experience so many are conditioned to through laugh tracks and jokes you can see coming from light years away. Awesome Show has no such framework, which results in sequences that don't quite hit the target, or sequences that don't make sense until 3 a.m. the next morning. Regardless, I'd rather watch a show that's willing to take risks than any number of forgettable shows that always choose the comedic path of least resistance.
Update: For an example of one critic who really doesn't get the show, check out this Reuters article, especially the reference to "a local newscast from gay co-anchors." They're not gay, they're a married man and woman. Aesthetically androgynous, yes. Gay, no.