Getting weird with Tim & Eric

Comedy duo Tim & Eric open their Mandatory Attendance tour in San Diego
(Rickett + Sones)

Comedy duo Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim have been making each other laugh for a long time.

After meeting at Temple University in the mid-90s, the Pennsylvania natives developed a close knit friendship anchored by their shared love of absurdist satire. It wasn’t long before they decided to launch a website to showcase their unique brand of short films, animations, and comic strips.

Things went to the next level when actor/comedian Bob Odenkirk (Breaking Bad, Mr. Show) got involved and helped the pair get their animated series Tom Goes The Mayor on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim.

But it was Heidecker and Wareheim’s second offering on the adult-oriented, nighttime block of the Network’s programming, Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, that catapulted them into the stratosphere.

The intentionally awkward and campy live-action sketch show ran for five seasons, highlighted by a long list of notable guest performers including Odenkirk, Zach Galifianakis, Ben Stiller, Paul Rudd, “Weird Al” Yankovic, John C. Reilly, Will Forte and many others.

It was also around this time that the pair started taking their act on the road. And since 2008, Heidecker and Wareheim have toured it across the country every few years.

Their latest run, Tim & Eric’s Mandatory Attendance World Tour 2020, earns the “world” in its title from a recent 5-night swing through Australia - a short warm-up for their 29-date North American Tour which kicks off at the Balboa Theatre on Monday.

Tim Heidecker (left) and Eric Wareheim share a love of absurdist humor.
(Caroline Bader)

And like all of the tours that have come before it, their new live performances are anything but a re-hash of old jokes.

“All of the material is fresh,” said Heidecker recently from his Los Angeles home. “We’re not doing our greatest hits. We’re going to give you two hours of stuff you haven’t thought about, seen or know is coming in any way.”

But at the same time, Heidecker, who also has appeared in big-budget films like Bridesmaids, Ant-Man and the Wasp, and the 2019 award–winning Jordan Peele thriller Us, acknowledges that the apple of their live show doesn’t fall too far from the tree, either.

“There are certainly references to our own work,” he continued. “It’s very theatrical. It’s the kind of show that’s always fun to develop and put on. There are a few bits that are born out of characters you’ll be familiar with - it’s the comedy that united Eric & I together. But it’s not just a grab bag of all the general, different projects we have going on.”

As musicians and multi-disciplinary artists, the two-hour show finds the pair breaking the fourth wall with new songs, new sketches, and a few, all-new video segments that ultimately serve as a break for costume and set changes.

The duo has been writing material for the new tour over the last year and always relish the chance to perform new material in the live arena.

“It’s fun and different every night,” Heidecker said. “But the best thing is the immediate reaction from the audience. They’re laughing right as you deliver something that you and your friends thought was funny a few months ago. There are moments of absolute joy in that.”

You never quite know what will happen at a Tim & Eric live show.
(Stuart Wieten)

As you’d expect, the comedic performer is reluctant to get into specific details of the new show, but only because Heidecker wants to do his best to preserve the many surprises that await longtime fans and newcomers alike.

“I appreciate you accepting my generalities!” he said through a laugh. “But the more I explain it, the less exciting it’ll be when you see it.”

The tour runs through March, just in time for the pair to promote their new Adult Swim sitcom, Beef House, which debuts later this year. But regardless of what they have upcoming on both the big and small screens, the musically minded friends haven’t yet tired of extracting laughs from live audiences across the globe.

“Eric and I have to be on our toes,” said Heidecker. “We’re doing a fairly high-energy show for two hours. But there is something really fun about getting on a bus with people you like and putting on a show every night. It’s like something you dream about doing when you’re a kid.”

Tim & Eric Mandatory Attendance World Tour: 8 p.m. Monday, Jan. 27.Balboa Theatre, 868 4th Ave., downtown. $42.50;