Eric Of 'Tim And Eric' Made Awesome Music Videos, Great Job
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Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! hit the airwaves in 2007 and immediately became a comedy goldmine. The show's complete lack of structure, embrace of the ugly and outlandish, and propensity for genre mashups made it wholly different from everything else on TV and exactly like the whiplash, context-agnostic internet comedy that was blossoming on Youtube. Tim and Eric's bits are over a decade old now, but many of them are still referenced daily. It's not hard to see why memers love the show- for reaction gifs, it's free real estate.
Maybe that evocative, emotional style is why artists started to flock to the duo for music videos- specifically Eric. If you don't read credits, you probably think Eric Wareheim didn't do much after Tim and Eric aside from his brief role on Master of None. But for a few years, he was a widely sought-after director for music videos from big artists. Major Lazer big. Ben Folds big. Maroon freaking 5 big. Bands so famous even your parents might have heard of them.
And the music videos are absolutely amazing. Some of the earlier ones, like Ben Folds' You Don't Know Me, feel like they could come right out of Tim and Eric, but instead of stilted dialogue and uncomfortable actors, you have popular music and famous artists. Uncomfortable famous artists.
But as Eric directed more and more videos, he developed a personal style all his own. Sure, you can tell from the celebration of the ugly and reliance on absurdity that they're related to sketches like The Tairy Greene Machine, but they really feel like inspired and unique creations.
Music videos often feel like they're trying too hard to be "random," and instead of striking the absurd end up in "Rawr, I'm a dinosaur xD!" territory. Eric's come across as unusual; they're thematically interesting and not so far-reaching that they're completely incomprehensible, but still wild enough that anything could happen. A good example is the video for Major Lazer's Bubble Butt.
A song about big butts obviously needs big butts, but having a 30-foot woman use her mouth tentacles to inject other women's butts and turn them into bubble butts gives the video that special Eric touch. A lot of videos might trend too far into the plot at this point- where does the 30-foot woman come from? What is in the tentacles? But instead, everyone has a good time, we get to see a 4-faced head dangling from a chain, and the celebration of the bubbled butts is uninterrupted by exposition or explanation. (Probably NSFW:)
As much as I love bubble butts, I love stories more. And towards the end of his music video career, Eric injected some solid, allegorical storytelling into his music videos.
His video for Charli XCX's song Famous starts as an almost nostalgic view of celebrity- a young Charli dances around her bedroom enjoying the internet, popularity, and a never-ending stream of reactions. But as the technology around her breaks down, she's pulled farther and farther into an ugly world where what's real is disgusting and obsessive consumption reduces people to husks of themselves.
Ultimately cynically ending with our protagonist dying with a smile on her face just to charge her phone, it's easy to forget that this song could easily have been another bubblegum pop video.
I love it. And a couple of his later videos are similar. It seems like with a bigger budget, Eric might be the Jordan Peele of Tim and Eric- starting off in a sketch comedy show duo and moving into a more horrifying genre with ease. Hopefully, someday he'll get feature funds, and we can get a movie with the aesthetic of his HAM video. John C Reilly is old enough that he won't even need the makeup anymore!