Thursday, January 29, 2009

Big Night! (Part One: An Evening with Tim and Eric and Friends)

There is bonding that happens when friends laugh together. This is not a unique or exclusive concept, and not one that I will elaborate on any further, aside from mentioning that one of the reasons Gavin and I have become such close friends is that we share a common love for the comedy of Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim.

On Saturday, they came through Chicago for the second time within a year. We got off the Red Line at the Belmont stop at around 5:30, a full two hours prior to the advertised show time. We turned the corner and discovered around 20 dedicated fans waiting in the near-zero cold to get a good spot to see their favorite comedy team.

Much to our surprise we encountered David Liebe Hart, one of Tim and Eric’s most popular guest stars. He was dressed in ill-fitting clothes and carried a bright blue tote bag with the logo of a 99-cent-store printed on the front. He was mingling with his fans, taking pictures, signing autographs, and selling his homemade CDs. He eagerly approached us, and pointed out his “North Shore Line” hat.

“I’m wearing this hat because it was my favorite train line that ran here in Chicago before Metra and the CTA had them shut down…”

He was also excited about performing in Chicago.

“I grew up in Chicago on 61st and Ellis near Hyde Park where my father was a public school teacher for 55 years before we moved to Park Forest Illinois…”

Without taking a breath, he seamlessly transitioned to his favorite topic of discussion.

"I'm black Irish, just like Oprah and Obama, and the Irish are descended from a race of Aliens called the Omegans. And the Irish like the color green because the Omegans have green blood. but after they started mingling and reproducing with other Caucasian peoples, their blood eventually turned red and brown in color..."

David Liebe Hart is an interesting person to say the least. He is a singer and puppeteer, and frequently appears on the Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! The comedic nature of his songs is something I've often discussed with Gavin and other fans of the show because, assuming that we consider ourselves "good" people, laughing at a man who is afflicted with a clear mental handicap and has a heart as kind as his would be... well... wrong. 

The conclusion that I've come to about David's appearances of T&EASGJ! is that his earnest attempts to sing and perform his music fit into the strange world that Tim and Eric are creating. He's not, however, something that they are presenting as a subject of mockery. Of course the puppets are awful, his songs are simple, he can't sing well, and his overwhelming preoccupation with Alien theories is creepy, but he is genuine. He does his best, and that's the only reason he works. 

So as Gavin and I listened to this man telling us his random presentations on whatever subjects crossed his mind, I couldn’t help but see the joy and excitement coming from inside him. I felt bad that I didn’t have the cash to buy a CD, but I was glad to have met him.

David went on about his business, posing for pictures with other fans, selling CDs to some, while Gavin and I discussed our food options. We had spotted a Mediterranean joint near the train and felt this was our best choice. As we hurried away from the line, we spotted David talking to a woman at the box office window.

“I’m wearing this hat because it was my favorite train line that ran here in Chicago before Metra and the CTA had them shut down…”

He was at it again.

I stopped Gavin and said, “maybe David wants to get some Falafel with us.”

“Why not?” Gavin responded. We stopped to wait for David to finish.

“I grew up in Chicago on 61st and Ellis near Hyde Park where my father was a public school teacher for 55 years before we moved to Park Forest Illinois…”

The woman in the box office was nodding and smiling as David elaborated on his childhood.

“Alright, I’m giving him one more minute,” Gavin said after listening to David’s conversation for much longer than we should have.

“Just interrupt him,” I said.

Gavin stepped over, tapped him on the shoulder, and said, “hey David, wanna get some falafel with us?”

“Yeah, okay.”

David waved good-bye to the nice lady in the ticket booth and joined us as we hurried up the block to get some food.

“I’m wearing this hat because it was my favorite train line that ran here in Chicago before Metra and the CTA had them shut down…”

We knew as soon as he opened his mouth to tell us his story for the second time that night that we were suddenly responsible for this man.

“How much time do you have, David?” I asked.

“About ten minutes.”

We hurried our pace and listened as David told us more about the “Electroliner train that went 200mph and was stolen by the Japanese,” Aliens, and life on the road with the Tim and Eric Awesome Tour.

When we got to the falafel joint, David asked for two sandwiches, and two drinks. I was happy to buy them for him. He gave me a CD in return, which he really didn’t have to but I’m glad he did. David’s food was ready before ours, so he and Gavin departed the restaurant early, just in case the Tim and Eric crew were worried. After they left, the guy behind the counter asked if I was buying food for a homeless guy.

“No,” I said, “he’s performing around the corner.”

The man was appropriately surprised.

When I got back on the street, I intercepted David as he tried to enter a used bookstore. He excitedly pointed into the window and said, “see, that’s the electroliner, right there!” We honestly didn’t expect to see it, but there it was on the cover of a book in the window of this store.

As Gavin and I escorted him away he asked us to go in and purchase the book for him, assuring us that he would reimburse us later.

Enthusiastic fans were waiting for David at the Vic Theater. Gavin and I stood at the back of the line and ate our sandwiches. All of these people were asking him for autographs and pictures. Some sang his songs and asked him to sing along. We bought him falafel and listened to him for a little while. We were glad we invited him. Of course, as soon as David was gone we realized just how cold it was that night.

We didn’t know it at the time, but we would end up standing in the cold for another hour before the doors opened. The two high-school boys behind us kept reciting jokes from the show while one of their dads periodically checked in. Gavin believed that the young woman in front of us was dragging her boyfriend to the show, and that he was going to be very upset if he wasn’t entertained tonight.

The single worst thing about waiting in line, aside from the cold, was the pair of drunk high-school girls waiting a few people ahead of us. One of the girls was rotund, and drinking booze from a PowerAde bottle. The other was skinny, ugly, and wearing a leather coat with the word “exploited” written on it. They were loud, obnoxious, and yelling the word “nipple” at anyone who passed. Their presence combined with the vicious cold to make me a shamefully intolerant person during that hour before the show.

Once inside and warm, we got as close to the stage as we could and made ourselves comfortable. The drunken girls were still closer than we would have liked, but that was okay. We were mere inches from the stage and it wouldn’t be long before DJ Dougg Pound would come out and do his thing.

As we expected, Tim and Eric started their show off with a bang by running out on stage wearing skin-tight, sparkling spandex and singing a song called simply, “Diarrhea.” Gavin and I were falling all over each other with laughter. I found it hard to breathe and we suddenly realized that our obnoxious cackles must have been so much more annoying to the people around us than the drunken girls shouting “nipples.”

Much like their show at the Empty Bottle last year, Tim and Eric brought out some of their best-loved characters, and incorporated them into the show in brilliant ways. Spagett!, the Beaver Boys, the Kidz Break kids, and even the “Sexual Romance” guy all made appearances. Supporting guests such as James Qualls and the aforementioned David Liebe Hart were highlights, but the biggest surprise of the night came when John C. Reilly appeared on stage as none other than the beloved Dr. Steve Brule.

We were floored. With every passing moment the show was getting bigger, better, and exceeding our expectations. What could possibly happen next to give this show the fitting end it deserves?

Tim and Eric walked out onto stage and proceeded to give a sales seminar on something they called the “Tim and Eric Touch.” As the seminar continued, their clothes came off, and it transformed into a frightening and hilarious dance number with Tim and Eric leaping around the stage in form fitting, neon green leotards.

Then this happened:

Yes, that was Gavin getting pulled onto the stage and fondled by his comedy heroes. Immediately afterward he was assaulted by a man dressed as a little Dutch boy wielding a giant plush mallet. I am not making this up.

The show ended with all of the performers taking a bow on stage. Gavin and I were beaming. It was the end of one of the most surreal experiences of our lives. We didn’t need to say much as we filed out of the theater, we both knew what had just happened, and we also knew that it couldn’t really be explained.

As we bundled up and braved the cold, Gavin discovered that many of our friends were at a party in the neighborhood. Rather than walk the distance in the now sub-zero temperatures, Gavin and I took off running down the road.

It was Corinne’s birthday, and Andre was leaving town. No one at the party could really know what had just happened to us. Our words couldn’t explain the jokes, we couldn’t verbalize the experience or convey the inspiration that we derive from seeing these guys work. Our clumsy explanations of these skits and songs don’t do them justice, even the individual clips fail to give the total picture of what it is that Tim and Eric do. But for that single night Gavin and I were in the audience, we were part of the show, and we made it ours.


  1. I totally agree with you about Liebe Hart. After spending the last couple days listening to his CD, he's kinda growing on me in a way I really didn't expect.

  2. wow, i can't believe John C. was there. That's awesome. I couldn't help but giggle hearing you two laughing on the video. Poor Gav got fondled by two men in sequins with big mits... Otherwise, a normal saturday night on the edge of boystown. good times.