No Joke Questions: Tim Heidecker on The Comedy

The comedian gets serious to talk about his first dramatic lead role and the upcoming 'Tim and Eric Go To The Moon.'

Fred Topelby Fred Topel


The Comedy has Tim Heidecker of “Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!” making jokes, but it’s not funny. He plays a privileged hipster in Williamsburg, NY who does nothing but hang out all day making jokes, whether appropriate or not. When we were connected by phone and introduced to Heidecker as CraveOnline, he said “awesome.” Then we did a very serious interview with Tim about The Comedy, opening in Los Angeles this week, New York next week and currently available on VOD.
 

CraveOnline: First question, why is there no shrim in this movie?

Tim Heidecker: Oh, no joke questions please.
 

Okay. Is The Comedy your chance to do something really outside the box?

Yes.
 

Were you looking for an opportunity like that?

No.
 

So what brought director Rick Alverson your way?

Rick got in touch with me through a mutual friend, a singer/songwriter named Will Oldham who I’m friends with. He wanted to see if I wanted to be in this movie and he talked to me about what the movie was about. It was interesting to me so I agreed to do it.
 

What made it so interesting to you?

A couple of the different ideas he wanted to explore, some of them being a problem that we both feel exists where there’s an inability to communicate without irony and there’s an issue with leisure and what people do in their spare time. Sort of the disconnection that we both feel exists amongst a certain group of people.
 

There was one scene where you said amus and then corrected yourself to say anus. Was that a real flub?

I think it was a real flub that I seized the opportunity to make into a great comedic moment.
 

Now if I hadn’t read in the description that this movie was about hipsters, that would not be the first word I think of to describe these people. When you talk about problems with irony and leisure and communication, do you think hipster is the most accurate word for that behavior?

I don't know, what was the first word that would come to you?
 

I think they’re being mean.

That’s another adjective to use I guess and they are certainly being mean but the guys in this movie I think could also be considered “hipsters” which is just a word used to define a group of people based on the way they dress and the kind of music they listen to, where they live. It’s sort of a sociological term.
 

Sociological is a good word too, because they could be sociopathic.

I agree.
 

They have a good discussion about what’s too soon for some subjects. Is too soon sort of an arbitrary social conceit that we have?

No, I think there’s limits and there’s good taste boundaries that I think people should be mindful of. I think there’s certainly things that should be given some sort of respect. It’s everybody’s choice what they say and how it’s received is their responsibility. In my own life, I would certainly double check before I say certain things.
 

Do you think they go too far in the church scene, actually disturbing people worshiping?

Oh yeah, sure. That’s a scene where they’re behaving very poorly.
 

For you, what was the difference between acting up to be funny like you may do in Tim and Eric and doing it to specifically not be funny in The Comedy?

I don't know, I think in this movie, my character is trying to be funny and he’s trying to get people to either be uncomfortable or laugh. He’s using his own sense of humor as a defense mechanism and also as a weapon. I think there are some genuinely funny moments in the movie but the way it’s contextualized isn’t necessarily begging for laughs from the audience, and certainly not from the other characters in the movie.
 

Are you really a sensitive caring guy in real life?

I guess, sure.
 

When you were at Sundance with the film, did you have any particularly contentious Q&As with any of the audiences?

Yeah, we had one. It was mixed which is every Q&A we’ve done. There are people who have a strong positive reaction to the film and there’s some people that really have a negative reaction. I think it’s always kind of problematic when you do a Q&A immediately after the film because especially in this film, a lot of people have told me that they have felt one way about it five minutes after the film and another way about it 30 minutes after the film or a day after the film. And it’s particularly the kind of people that feel they need to ask a question at a Q&A that I don’t believe represent the general population. If you have something negative to say at a Q&A it’s generally reflective of the kind of person you are in general, so it doesn’t bother me too much. I think it’s kind of amusing.
 

Have you had the opposite reaction where someone who maybe needs to get the message of The Comedy really did take it to heart?

Well, I don't know, but I’ve gotten a lot of tweets and people writing to me saying, “This movie makes me want to shave my beard off” or “this movie makes me want to think about my life in a different way and think about the way I talk to people and stuff.” I’ve had some anecdotal reports of that.
 

What’s next for you and Eric Wareheim?

We’re currently writing a show for Adult Swim that we hope to have on the air next year. It’s a miniseries called “Tim and Eric Go To The Moon.”
 

Would that be in line with the “Awesome Show. Great Job!” and Billion Dollar Movie?

It would be just another thing that we make. It’ll be in the style but I think we want to go a little bigger, higher production value and kind of surprise the world with something kind of crazy and cool.
 

As a miniseries, will it have a more narrative plot more than sketch comedy.

Yeah, it’ll have a story.
 

Do they actually go to the moon or is that a metaphor?

Yeah, we’re going to be actually shooting on the moon. No, that is the story. It’s not a metaphor.
 

Any more acting projects for you separately from Eric?

Nothing’s on the schedule yet. I don’t have anything to report there.
 

What are you watching on television?

Oh, it’s so boring. I’m watching the great shows that everybody else is watching, the “Homeland” and the “Boardwalk” and “The Walking Dead.” That takes up enough time, and then I’ve been watching the news. I’ve been watching this hurricane and the election coming up, so I’m kind of a news junkie. That’s it. I don’t watch any comedy. I can’t take it.
 

Did you used to?

Yeah, when I was younger for sure. When I was in high school and in my 20s, that was pretty much all I watch but I don’t have the stomach for it any more. It reminds me too much of work.