There was a moment near the end of Thursday’s sold-out Tim & Eric with Dr. Steve Brule show at Pabst Theater where John C. Reilly (deep in his Brule character) summed up the 150-some previous minutes with one question: “What the fuck just happened?” While the puzzled inquiry is taken out of context, it could have easily been applied to almost every moment of the exercise in boundary-pushing anti-comedy that included a laptop being smashed, a photograph of a man’s micropenis repeatedly being shown on a massive screen, an impassioned chant to cheer on the uploading of Norton Disk Doctor, and a woman signing a waiver to grant Reilly permission to touch her breasts. As anyone with even an iota of exposure to the distinct and deeply divisive comedic work of Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim could have predicted, the performance was nothing short of batshit crazy, intentionally unhinged, and incredibly enjoyable.
DJ Douggpound, a longtime resident of “Tim And Eric”’s eclectic universe, opened the show with a grab-bag of hilarious drops pulled from Barenaked Ladies, Tim Allen grunts, and more to go along with his remixed ice cream truck song, a version of Van Halen’s “Jump” with puking noises substituted in for the iconic keyboard part, a slowed-down auctioneer’s call, and outstanding use of sound effects. Even after his set, DJ Douggpound would stay on stage to ply his production prowess.
The first part of the two act, three-headed headliner combo came in the form of Heidecker and Wareheim, who came out in silk shirts, engaged in a dance number, and voiced that they would try (and very quickly fail to) improvise their entire set. After some intentional floundering and Heidecker stifling a chatty audience member by saying “You shut up!” and “Kill yourself for talking,” they said they ran out of material, said goodnight, and left the stage, which prompted the lights to be turned up. They returned to a still-full theater and chanted “Ha ha, you’ve been pranked!” before continuing on with the organized insanity. To fill time and allow for costume changes and set modifications, portions of an unaired episode of their new Tim And Eric’s Bedtime Stories played between sketches. The Awesome Show-relevant portions the pair bestowed upon what Wareheim called a “filthy fuckin’ Waukee crowd” included a Cinco-Con ’14 Milwaukee sales presentation—where the Cinco brothers introduced the terrifying “Grum” mascot for a spicy children’s energy soda—and Skott and Behr asking their Rang Dipkin deity for forgiveness for their increasingly-horrifying sins against one another.
Following a video segment, crowd favorite Dr. Steve Brule ambled clumsily toward the stage from the rear of the theater. Once he said a prayer and collected himself, the Reilly alter ego looked back on his life and sloppily explained his origin with a “Who is me?” slide show. He bared his soul—telling the crowd about a “one brilly, name of Kevin” who tormented him every day at school. “Fruck you Kevin,” he slurred. Brule pulled an audience member on stage to play an acoustic guitar while he sang a song about his mother. Then he guided the crowd on a tour of Milwaukee and all its wonders, like the city’s two churches (to praise Jingus), taverns (for sour sodas), and Main Street. When the “for your health” segment arrived, he solicited the help of eight audience members, including noted local comic Sammy Arechar and a Rio Turbo background dancer named Cat. After signing the aforementioned waiver disguised as a medical form, Brule slowly reached in to poke one of Cat’s breasts. Moving to the other one, he straight up squeezed it. While some interaction aided the show, Reilly’s (or Brule’s, whatever) reliance on the sizable crowd occasionally hurt, such as the unending musical chairs bit where there were enough chairs for everyone.
As the lengthy show was approaching its end, Heidecker and Wareheim returned, donning Jan and Wayne Skylar attire. Without blowing anything major, a wedding ceremony followed, as well as two engagements. As Brule was asking what the fuck just happened at that point in the show, most of the audience was left to wonder the same thing. Even if the caustic and subversive stage show of the cult comedy act took some crazy turns over the course of the night, it’s safe to say most in attendance would gladly take the ride again and again.