10 Comics to Watch
Who: The duo’s “Tom Goes to the Mayor,” a latenight offering on the Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim block, is, put simply, one of the weirdest series on television.
A surreal mix of rudimentary 3-D graphics, pencil line drawings and live action, the 11-minute animations cast a community of socially inept characters (each “performed” by Heidecker and Wareheim) in grim strip malls to riff on subjects like macaroni art and couples therapy cruises.
Meanwhile, Sir Mix-A-Lot raps about big cups, and Janeane Garofalo advocates for oil turtles. Confused yet? You aren’t alone.
The friends, both 30, met at film school at Temple U. and initially began making short movies to amuse each other. It was only after graduating into dead-end jobs that they began sending DVDs of their work to their comic heroes, like Bob Smigel, Bob Odenkirk and Conan O’Brien.
“We had no contacts on the inside at all,” Heidecker recalls. “A lot of the tapes just, I’m sure, ended up in the waste basket.”
But one didn’t.
Odenkirk watched and loved it. “They had a smart sensibility and a unique voice,” he explains. “It was honed, not just a hodgepodge or a copy of anything.”
Odenkirk signed on to executive produce them and sold “Mayor” to the Cartoon Network in 2003. Though the show debuted to widespread bafflement, it soon developed into a cult hit, and Heidecker and Warheim’s faces — rendered as their alternate “Tom” personas — can now be seen plastered on seven-story-high billboards in New York and L.A.
“Driving up Sunset and seeing that is really wild,” Wareheim says. “It doesn’t even look like me.”
What’s going on: Besides “Tom,” and their own humor site at TimandEric.com, Heidecker and Wareheim are developing a Monty Pythonesque sketch show for Adult Swim called “The Tim & Eric Show.”
They’re also working on an Internet cartoon for Comedy Central called “Steven & Stephen,” about conjoined twins connected at the groin.
Take: “When you’re sitting around talking about what the right pronunciation of hoagie should be to make the joke work, or whether you need a poop or fart joke there, it really becomes surreal,” Wareheim says. “This is my life, I get paid to do this, which I never imagined possible.”