If you’ve seen “Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!” on Adult Swim, you might reasonably wonder how they translate a TV show that’s a sensory assault of quick cuts and trippy public-access-style video effects into a live stage show.
Well, I found out Saturday at the Newport -- it’s just a different kind of trippy sensory assault. One that involves more packages of dried shrimp.
The show was sold out and the crowd cheerful and boisterous. I’ve seen opener Neil Hamburger — who does a hilarious pop-culture twist on the old-timey question-answer joke shtick — recently opening for Puscifer. Jokes like “What do Tupac Shakur and ‘Ocean’s Eleven’ have in common? Both were shot in Vegas” went over even better with the Tim and Eric crowd, which isn’t exactly known for its good taste.
After a breezily brief intermission and a video intro that brought a roar from fans, Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim took the stage with a colorful musical number about Chrimbus, the mock-holiday that inspired their upcoming TV special.
Their TV show packed more sketch genius into 10 minutes than TV has seen since “Mr. Show,” so new video clips from Tairy Greene (Zach Galifianakis), Dr. Steve Brule (John C. Reilly) and other show favorites were welcome previews of the upcoming special.
On the stage, Tim and Eric’s douchey MTV caricatures Jim and Derrick were a highlight, as were the deadpan musings on the mysteries of the universe from the episode of the same name.
Then we got to the bad news: Two members of Tim and Eric’s touring band — who perform songs from the show under the moniker Pusswhip Banggang — were sick and unable to perform. To make amends, Columbus got an exclusive screening of the full Chrimbus special, which airs Dec. 5 on Adult Swim.
I won’t spoil the TV special, but it was hard to keep the live momentum going with a crowd watching a video screen for 40 minutes — particularly when several of the skits were previewed earlier in the show.
But Tim and Eric were clearly intent on making sure their fans got their money’s worth, returning to shower swag on the audience — and host an onstage shrimp-eating contest — before eventually retiring to the merchandise booth to sign autographs.
The lines between alternative comedy and rock show were blurry that night, and Tim and Eric were consummate stars. I wish it could be Chrimbus all year round.