Looking for a movie to watch this weekend? Need to know if a movie is great or terrible? You might not want to take advice from “movie reviewers” Tim Heidecker and Gregg Turkington, stars of the surrealist Adult Swim show “Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!” in their faux movie-review web series “On Cinema at the Cinema.” Satirizing movie critics’ abilities to say a lot of nothing about movies, they’ve gained a cult audience in their anti-humor trappings. Four seasons in, the show is still going strong. “On Cinema” took the show on the road with a movie screening and Q&A at the Roxie Theater in San Francisco on Saturday as part of SF Sketchfest.
The Daily Californian spoke with Heidecker about his web series and the process of making the show.
The Daily Californian: Where did the idea for the show begin? How did it evolve into a podcast and video podcast?
Tim Heidecker: Well Gregg [Turkington] and I were on the set of the film “The Comedy,” and we were just killing time and we had a little private joke about all these podcasts — about how they’re so self-indulgent, and we were just kind of riffing on that. I had my phone there, with a little voice recorder, and we just started making podcasts about movies that obviously everyone had seen that we didn’t really have any strong opinions on them. So we started from that, and it kind of grew. It was kind of a prank at first, but then it was just too much fun to stop doing.
DC: Is any of the show improvised? Or is most of the show scripted?
TH: It’s all improvised. We come together and come up with some ideas for how the whole season is going to work with little plot points. We don’t go in blank, we have a few jokes lined up, but mostly off the top of our heads. And it’s mostly us laughing. It’s very hard for the editors to make it work, because we’re cracking up the whole time.
DC: What can people expect from the live show during SF Sketchfest?
TH: We’re gonna show a movie called “Wired,” which is a biopic of John Belushi that hasn’t been seen very much. We’re just going to talk about it and have a nice casual conversation about the movies of Saturday Night Live and what makes John Belushi so great and then get questions from the audience and then have a very intimate film discussion.
DC: What were the challenges of converting the show from a web series into an hour-long live show?
TH: The hard part for us is to keep straight and stay in character and be real to the show because so much of it is manipulated when we make it. It’s fun to do, though.
DC: Working on the show, is the process vastly different from working on, say, “Tim and Eric?”
TH: Yeah, it’s very loose and and very low-stakes — I’m not really worried about what anyone thinks. We’re doing it pretty much for us, and that’s a fun way to work.
DC: Do you guys ever watch the movies your characters review?
TH: No comment [laughs].
DC: What’s the future for the show? Do you just plan on making more episodes, or do you want to expand the show?
TH: We’re just going to keep doing it for as long as we can. I think it would be funny if we did it for 20 years. If there’s a redundancy to it, that’s part of the joke, and I think it will just get funnier and funnier the longer we do it. We got some ideas that aren’t fully fleshed out yet, but with anything we do, when you start doing something, you end up creating this little world. You create characters that have history, and the more you do it, there’s more to play off of. Who would have thought this little thing that started off of my iPhone would have love triangles, health problems and all these things that are fun tools to play with?
Art Siriwatt covers video games. Contact him at [email protected].