Archive for the ‘Humor’ Category

Eric Andre: Legalize Everything review

June 28th, 2020
Trailer for Legalize Everything

If you’re familiar with Eric Andre, you probably recognize him from The Eric Andre Show. If not let me explain: his eponymous show is like an inverted talk show; instead of going for an hour or two, each episode is 15 minutes. Instead of trying to make the guests feel comfortable, he does the exact opposite. It’s a mix of fast-paced cringe humor and straight up surrealism — in one episode he murders his co-host Hannibal Buress which somehow leads into a Twin Peaks homage — and I’d be lying if I said that was the weirdest part of the episode. So as you can imagine it’s not your typical talk show.

I’d never seen Andre’s standup before so I didn’t know quite what to expect from his first comedy special, Eric Andre: Legalize Everything on Netflix. Was this going to be a live version of The Eric Andre Show, or more conventional standup material? The answer: a little from column A, a little from column B.

Filmed in New Orleans shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic and before the murders of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and far too many more Black Americans by police, Legalize Everything is a standup special that by some strange coincidence was released at the moment it was needed most.

First, we haven’t had live comedy shows to see in months and probably won’t again in the near future, so new comedy specials are a welcome rarity right now. Second, the half Black half Jewish (or in his words, “bluish”) comedian Eric Andre has a unique perspective fit for the current era. One of the most biting jokes in the entire special is in the trailer above in which Andre makes fun of how the TV show COPS glorifies police brutality against anyone who’s not white and/or wealthy, all to the tune of the most incongruous theme music possible.

 

Mild spoilers for Legalize Everything below.

 

The show opens with a sketch, as many standup specials do these days. This sketch seems straight out of The Eric Andre Show, with Andre impersonating a cop who’s drunk and offering people hits from a giant bong.

Once he hits the stage Andre tackles a wide variety of subjects with his signature frantic intensity: bad drug drips, being mistaken for two men at the same time, bizarre sexual experiences, the horrors of Calvinism in American history, etc.

Throughout Legalize Everything Andre calls out members of the audience for random and uncomfortable reasons, though never devolves into insult humor. In one case he even takes the phone from a volunteer to send text messages. This type of material subverts the expectations of standup comedy — nobody can heckle a comedian who’s preemptively heckling the audience.

 

End spoilers.

 

Though a couple of the jokes don’t quite land as hard as they might have, everything works here. There’s no question Eric Andre had refined his set by the time this special was filmed and he’s giving it his all in his performance.

Standup comedy is inherently character driven; the comedian is playing a caricature (often but not always of themselves) who tells jokes that speak to the truth of the character in some humorous way. In Andre’s case his caricature is that of an outsider with the energy of a coked-up lunatic who’s armed to the teeth with nuclear truth bombs.

Comedy is also about timing. It’s hard to imagine this special landing at a better time, as Andre squeezes humor out of timely subjects such as America’s racism, poverty, and historical context. Would you be surprised if I told you this special was filmed back in November of 2019? Of course little has changed since then, we’re just more outraged about it now.

I think the audience for Legalize Everything will probably be fairly self-selecting, but even those who aren’t familiar with Andre will likely find solid material to laugh at here — more than can be said for your average Netflix comedy special. If nothing else it’s certainly an hour long spectacle to gawk at.

Personally, Legalize Everything was easily captivating enough to hold my attention, funny enough to make me laugh hard many times, and perhaps most astonishingly, deep enough to make me think — the latter of which are words I can’t believe I’m saying about Eric Andre of all people. There’s no way I give this any less than a perfect score, this is the comedy special we needed right when we needed it.

Rating: 10/10

Review: Marion’s Wish

April 12th, 2020
 

Earlier this week the three comedians behind On Cinema released a free short story as an e-book titled Marion’s Wish. According to the forward this book is the result of a text message conversation between Tim Heidecker, Mark Proksch, and Gregg Turkington while they’re all self isolating for COVID-19.

Although it’s not officially part of the On Cinema universe in any way, it has certain similarities. Specifically Tim is the instigator, Mark is the fall guy (who is obsessed with the Three Stooges for some reason) and Gregg is the unreliable expert with strange ideas.

The story starts out with Tim asking Mark to have a video chat over breakfast with Marion, allegedly the granddaughter of Moe from the Three Stooges. Mark reluctantly accepts, and Gregg quickly chimes in with a request for Mark to get Marion to verify a friend’s stash of nude photos of Moe.

In typical comedy fashion everything spirals out of control from there, with a typo-laden and buggy auto-correct version of “Who’s On First” muddying the waters. New characters with similar names are introduced including another guy named Tim and a man named Mario (not to be confused with Marion.)

Although the presentation is a tad sloppy at times, it’s a quick read — maybe 20 minutes or so — and I was laughing so hard I had to take a quick break to wipe the tears from my eyes before the end.

My recommendation: Humor is extremely subjective, though if dark, classic comedy tickles you in the right way, give this short story a read. You can download it for free here.

Tim and Eric’s Mandatory Attendance World Tour show notes

March 8th, 2020
Tim & Eric Mandatory Attendance Tour Tim & Eric Mandatory Attendance Tour Tim & Eric Mandatory Attendance Tour

 

I went to the San Francisco stop on Tim and Eric‘s Mandatory Attendance World Tour on March 4th at The Warfield. Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim have been staples of late night cable TV fringe comedy for almost two decades at this point. Although they’re best known for Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! and Check it Out! with Dr. Steve Brule, they’ve also produced other shows including Nathan For You and the bizarre talk show The Eric Andre Show.

Although I’d never been to a live Tim and Eric show before, I’ve attended two On Cinema live shows in the past year (also produced by and co-staring Tim Heidecker) so I had a pretty good idea of what to expect — a lively show geared toward an audience of fans who are all totally into it.

I waited until today to post show notes as not to spoil the show for the remaining tour dates. Now that it’s over, here’s everything that happened.

Before the show

After passing through security and the ticket check, I was handed a small playbill (see above) about the size of a business card. I had a balcony ticket so I headed upstairs and bought the world’s most expensive whiskey and Coke at the bar.

Before the show began a video played on an almost comically tiny screen in which a man performed songs from Awesome Show on a guitar while wearing various costumes. This includes memorable songs from Casey and his Brother, the Beaver Boys theme, etc.

Speaking of costumes, many members of the audience were wearing outfits to match their favorite Tim and Eric characters. Two guys seated near me were dressed up as the Beaver Boys, and I saw a couple people wearing On Cinema t-shirts.

As stagehands wheeled the tiny screen away, the lights went down and the show opened. A video played on the big screen explaining how Tim has a large vacation home where he hangs out with his old pals, mostly to get away from his family — but also to avoid Eric. When Eric showed up and suggested they do a live show together we learn that Tim slammed the door in his face, only to later conceive of doing a family friendly tour that everyone can smile at (but not actually laugh) in order to attract corporate sponsors.

The audience was instructed to clap with their wrists instead of their hands, and to moan while doing so.

It’s mandatory

Tim and Eric arrived on stage dressed in flamboyant cowboy outfits performing a song about how attendance is mandatory, and also claiming they enjoy various drugs. At some point it was mentioned that anyone who did not attend would be fined $750.

Interrupting a pointless sketch about a cowboy who tickles people, Eric decided this isn’t right, they should abandon the family friendly concept and do their usual comedy — even if it’s not for everyone. Tim reluctantly agreed to change the format. They also agreed to waive the “exit fee.”

As they left the stage, a new video played of the duo eating and “vomiting” various foods. This was genuinely disgusting and a number of people near me covered their eyes.

Pitzman’s Mustard

Tim and Eric return to the stage wearing dressed in normal clothing for a reprise of the YouTube series Tim’s Kitchen Tips. A table was placed on stage with a large bowl and a small camera mounted on a tripod. Eric moved the camera around throughout the sketch so the audience could see close ups.

Tim used an audience participation bit to explain how he intends to make yummy, wet, and spicy lasagna — using a recipe from the Lasagna region of Italy, naturally.

Tim started with a frozen lasagna he purchased from his favorite store, a nearby Safeway. He opened the package and squeezed the existing wet juice out of it with his hand, sending the sauces down his elbow and all over the table.

As it turned out, Eric is also familiar with Safeway, though a different location. After a messy divorce Eric moved to a new home in Vallejo, a city he admittedly does not like. This minor localization gag got bigger laughs than I expected (perhaps there were people from Vallejo in the audience?)

To add wetness to the lasagna, Tim poured a giant can of tomato sauce into his bowl, most of which spilled on the table and floor.

For spices they recruited ten “Spice Cadets” from the audience to the stage. Each of them was assigned a spice to wear on their helmets as well as an apron featuring the name of the spice. During this process Tim angrily confiscated the phone of an audience member who was taking a video, tossing the “phone” into the tomato sauce.

The first spice, cinnamon, had a lengthy song and dance routine. Then Tim told the woman who represented cinnamon to “get the fuck out of here” as cinnamon clearly does not belong in lasagna. Tim then pared down the nine other Spice Cadets to a final five. Those who remained dumped their spices into the bowl by bowing their heads into it, pouring out the spices. One of them had a helmet malfunction that caused their entire helmet to fall into the bowl.

When Tim realized a key ingredient was missing, Mr. Peter Pitzman appeared wearing a yellow mask that clearly disturbed Tim. Mr. Pitzman proceeded to “pee” mustard all over the five remaining Spice Cadets as well as into the sauce.

Subscription services for dogs

Next up Tim and Eric came out wearing colorful lounge-y outfits, explaining they were a morning zoo show on 105.3 here in San Francisco before being fired when Tim’s character made an insensitive comment in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Fortunately they’ve been brought back by a tech billionaire named Werm to promote a streaming music service for dogs, which costs $99 per month. Tim picked up a guitar and Eric strapped on a child sized wearable drum set. They played a singalong song about different types of dogs and how they behave.

Eric’s character wanted to demonstrate Werm’s son’s software that just shows photos of dogs. Unfortunately he didn’t have the password for the software, and entering the wrong one caused the Windows XP desktop they had on stage to blue screen.

After several tries they guessed the password. The software turned out to be a slideshow with several photos of dogs, followed by a lot of photos of Moby. Tim and Eric fled the stage when smoke started coming out of the old desktop computer.

A Medical Play

In the final main act, they had a medical play allegedly sponsored by Aetna, a health insurance company. Tim said he was inspired by America where everyone has the right to buy private health insurance through a corporation.

The play involved Eric as a doctor similar to his Dr. Wareheim series on YouTube. Eric asked Tim a series of questions about his recent bowel movements such as their shape, thickness, tips, and tails. Neither of them could get through this portion with a straight face.

During an anal exam seemingly modeled after the Blue Man Group’s throat camera routine, we learn Tim has the highly contagious “Pork’s Disease,” and the entire audience is at risk. The CDC arrived via helicopter with a suitcase full of pills to cure the disease. The cure is HOGalaxin from Cinco Pharmaceuticals, which were available in suspicious baggies at the merch table.

Unfortunately the supply of pills was one short. Tim offhandedly mentioned that the CDC had other priorities. Their consultant at AEG “randomly” selected a member of the audience, a man who brought his wife on stage as well. He agreed to skip the medication and die for not only his wife but the greater good.

Tim and Eric performed their final song wearing lighted wings with a video tribute to the poor man. A flower-lined casket was wheeled out onto the stage behind him. As the song ended, stagehands escorted the man into the casket, closed it, and wheeled him backstage.

Beef House preview

Ostensibly this was the end of the show, but Tim and Eric introduced the first episode of their new show Beef House, a lowbrow parody of Full House or any one of countless forgettable 90’s family sitcoms.

The first episode involves Tim going on a date with a neighbor despite suffering from extreme constipation. This collides with a subplot about Eric’s girlfriend (played by Jamie-Lynn Sigler, aka Meadow from The Sopranos) demanding he clean up the place. The conclusion is hilariously disgusting, if somewhat predictable.

At the very end Tim and Eric came back out on stage to thank everyone for coming and to give a shout out to everyone else who worked on the show.

Conclusion

This was pretty much everything I would have expected from a live Tim and Eric show. Somehow I missed their last tour a couple years ago and I feel like I can stop kicking myself for that now.

From what I’ve read online a few stops on the tour had special guests. None of them were at the San Francisco show, but I would have loved to see John C. Reilly as Dr. Steve Brule. Someone please tell Reilly to come to San Francisco next time. I’ll even pay extra. For your health!

Six most outrageous moments during the 2020 On Cinema Oscar Special

February 14th, 2020

This year’s On Cinema Oscar Special was a little bit of a surprise. Online speculation led many to believe it wouldn’t happen as Tim Heidecker was on the East Coast leg of the Tim and Eric Mandatory Attendance Tour. Tim actually flew back to LA for one night just to do the Oscar Special this year, which is some serious dedication for a relatively low budget production.

As a huge fan of On Cinema, here’s my top six most outrageous moments during this year’s On Cinema Oscar Special. Watch it yourself online here.

Gregg Turkington in a purple outfit, white facepaint, and green hair as the Joker

6. Gregg’s appearance as The Joker

To celebrate the new Joker movie, the normally dull, mild-mannered movie buff Gregg dressed up in a full Joker get up. But not as the Joker from the recent 2019 film, instead going with the Jack Nicholson-style Joker from Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman film.

This is somehow funnier than it should be for those of us familiar with Gregg through his Neil Hamburger alter-ego. The Joker and Neil Hamburger are almost kindred spirits somehow. It probably deserves a higher spot on the list as it was hilarious just seeing Gregg dressed up as the Joker, but the rest of this list kind of depends on this so what am I supposed to do?

What can I say, I’m a slave to the format here.

Not-Mark, with LaRoux standing behind him

5. The search for Mark

Mark Proksch was sent to jail last season for a copyright violation involving Gregg’s tapes. Poor Mark hasn’t been seen or heard from since in spite of Gregg’s best efforts.

Tim’s investigator, weapons expert, and conspiracy theorist Michael Matthews (aka “LaRoux”) calls Tim with the happy news he’s located Mark. Sadly, LaRoux shows up with some guy named Steve who happens to look kind of like Mark.

Mark’s celebrity impersonations of W.C. Fields and the Marx Brothers have been a staple of On Cinema for years. In a case of mistaken identity, this time someone else “impersonated” Mark.

The search for Mark continues…

The pastor performs Tim and Toni's marriage ceremony

4. Tim’s convoluted marriage plan

Although we learned last season Tim married Toni (a juror during his murder trial who became his campaign manager in a failed attempt to unseat the district attorney) Tim felt the marriage ceremony at the local city hall wasn’t “Christian enough.” For the Oscar Special he secretly prepared an annulment which Toni reluctantly signed in order for them to have a proper marriage.

Tim awkwardly tries bonding with Toni’s teenage son Matt despite having little in common. When Tim interviews Toni’s (female) pastor Lewis he keeps starring at her legs and flirting with her. Not exactly off to a good re-start of the marriage.

Perhaps the funniest part of this was Gregg’s toast to the couple, which was just a string of references to Gregg’s favorite films — James Bond and the Oh, God! movies — all of which Tim vehemently hates.

Gregg sits in his car (the Mobile VFA) while Tim sits in a director's chair

3. The Mobile VFA

Gregg’s Victorville Film Archive (VFA) went mobile in season 11 when he stacked his VHS tapes in the back seat of his car. In the Oscar Special, Gregg drove the car into the studio. This wound up being a safe space for Gregg when Tim started going on his angry rants. Gregg spends a lot of episode in the car, watching from the perspective of a drive-in moviegoer.

Gregg’s finest moment as the Joker occurs when he’s in the Mobile VFA and honks its horn, interrupting Tim’s conversation with Manuel. Tim looks like he’s about to break character and several people off screen are heard laughing. Gregg opens the car door and smugly says “the Joker strikes again!” before turning to the camera to repeat his new catch phrase.

The Mobile VFA also winds up playing a major part in the finale, which we’ll get to in a moment.

Gregg dressed as the Joker pointing out his Arthur memorabilia

2. Gregg’s tribute to Arthur

Despite being dressed up as the Joker, Gregg has a series of segments and a small display set up to preview a tribute to the 39th anniversary of the film Arthur staring Dudley Moore and Liza Minnelli. Although Gregg intended to air a full tribute next year for the 40th anniversary, Tim insists Gregg just get it over with now.

As usual Gregg wasn’t able to find any real celebrities related to Arthur but he did interview an actress who stared in the recent Arthur remake as well as an affordable Dudley Moore impersonator. Both are interviewed in the passenger seat of his Mobile VFA.

Everyone's laying motionless as the room fills with smoke

1. The carbon monoxide poisoning

Gregg left the Mobile VFA car running in the closed studio, slowly filling it with carbon monoxide. Tim’s wedding dinner meanwhile is staged suspiciously to look like a painting of the last supper with Tim (obviously) as Jesus. Everyone started passing out in their seats or on the floor as several songs play including a remix of Dekkar’s “Empty Bottle.”

After several minutes passed I wondered if this might be the end of On Cinema for good? Fortunately Tim’s bandmate Axiom shows up several minutes later and heroically saves the day.

Many theories abound online about this incident overall. Did the one-handed Axiom from Dekkar single-handedly save everyone from “de car”? Was this the Mobile VFA’s revenge on Tim for destroying Gregg’s previous tape collections? Is it all part of the Joker’s evil plan? There are more questions than answers at this point.

Honorable mentions

  • Tim’s dead son “Tom Cruise Heidecker Jr.” appearing once again in horribly broken CGI form. This was much funnier the first time though it’s still a solid laugh.
  • The ongoing saga of catering company Chaplin’s Chili and their confusing ownership structure and name changes. Worse yet they forgot the salmon, although Mr. Chaplin himself insists that he cooked the chicken in a way that makes it taste like fish.
  • Gregg’s incredibly boring visit to a Hollywood thrift store that sells costumes used in films. He proudly displays two “priceless ensembles” he purchased for $20, which look like generic men’s clothes you might buy at Wal-Mart.
  • Tim ranting about the film Parasite being an actual “parasite” against America, since it’s not an American movie. The fact that clueless pundits unironically made the same point a few hours later somehow makes this predictable political take funnier than it had any right to be.
  • Gregg’s “Tribute to the Joker” is a hallucinatory mashup of the Joker’s various movie appearances. It also subtly foreshadows the smoke-filled ending.

For me it was my first time watching an On Cinema Oscar Special in a movie theater. Yes, I know that doesn’t make much sense but Alamo Drafthouse was livestreaming it several locations, including here in San Francisco. I got there a few minutes early. Fortunately an employee wearing a VFA t-shirt spotted my Dekkar t-shirt and let me know they were running a little behind schedule.

On my in I noticed they were patching a MacBook Pro into the theater’s projection system. I was pleasantly surprised it streamed in HD without AdultSwim.com’s notorious lag and glitch problems.

If you can, it’s definitely more fun to see this type of cult comedy special with a room full of people laughing along — people with a sense of humor as weird as your own.

Six most outrageous moments during the 2019 On Cinema Oscar Special

February 28th, 2019


 

Last Sunday I stayed home to watch an exciting live event: the 2019 On Cinema Oscar Special (video available here). What, did you think I’d waste time on the “real” Academy Awards?

I mentioned On Cinema here before — to sum it up it’s a tragic comedy about a pair of would-be movie critics, Tim and Gregg, and their many personality clashes. For a complete backstory of the On Cinema universe check out this article at Vulture.

Due to the outcome of a civil lawsuit Tim lost control of On Cinema last season. The Oscar Special was advertised with Gregg appearing as the movie expert and a new host by the name of Rafael Torres. How would this turn out? Could On Cinema possibly outdo itself again?

The short answer is yes. Here are the top six most outrageous moments in this year’s On Cinema Oscar Special.

Warning: spoilers!
 

6. Dekkar’s awful cover of “Bohemian Rhapsody”

Tim often interrupts On Cinema with his latest music, much to Gregg’s chagrin. This time Tim’s band Dekkar reunites to perform a cover of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” which at the very least is on topic due to the Oscar nominations of a film of the same name. Unfortunately their performance is… well, it’s a train wreck. Tim’s vocals are slurred, off-key, and it’s unclear if he even knows most of the lyrics.

I might have rated this moment in the special higher if I hadn’t seen a similar version last month at their live show here in San Francisco. It’s a solid laugh, but like any joke it’s better the first time.

 

5. Gregg’s unmentioned reference to Scientology

In a segment called “Where The Stars Were Born,” Gregg shows us the birthplaces of various Hollywood actors using shaky footage he presumably shot on his phone.

Gregg casually displays recent footage of the former hospital where Jamie Lee Curtis was born without commenting on the fact that it’s now the Hollywood Scientology building. These days the building serves a rather different purpose for certain Hollywood celebrities, including Tim’s favorite actor Tom Cruise.

 

4. Tim’s entrance and latest conspiracy theory

During a pre-taped interview with Steve Carell, Tim is heard in the background forcing his way onto the set of the special. He barges on set with pepper spray and a gun-toting security guard/actor named Mike. Somehow Tim wins back Gregg’s trust despite having blocked all the doors and exits, accidentally hit everyone with pepper spray, and forbidden phone calls (especially to 911.) The official host Rafael retreats to his dressing room after being assaulted by Tim and won’t come out.

Tim demands they run a Q-Anon style conspiracy theory video he put together regarding the allegedly impending arrest of elite Hollywood liberals — at 7:10 PM, specifically — during the Academy Awards. Gregg immediately rejects this conspiracy. When Tim’s prediction doesn’t come to pass he blames his security guard for giving him bad information.

 

3. Tim’s latest quack medicine… or is it?

Lifting his shirt to reveal a suspicious vest, Gregg is initially concerned Tim is wearing a suicide bomb. But it turns out the vest is only loaded with magnets — for health reasons. Tim claims he bought the vest at Magnets.com, and the powerful magnets have finally cured his diarrhea.

At first this seems relatively benign compared to Tim’s many other questionable health choices. But after Tim takes a tour of Gregg’s archive of VHS tapes while wearing the vest, a new problem develops. More on that in a moment.

 

2. The Living Oscar

Celebrity impersonator Mark Proksch nearly died during an on-set accident in last year’s Oscar Special; since then he’s been in a coma under Gregg’s care. For a new series of “Live Oscar” segments Gregg dressed Mark’s limp body in a tight-fitting gold suit and propped him upright. Gregg asks the Living Oscar statue questions, answering them with sound clips from Mark’s past performances.

In the final Living Oscar segment Gregg activates a turntable under the stand. When Mark becomes tangled up in the tube for his breathing device, Tim rushes over to help, accidentally knocking Mark onto the floor. The fall causes Mark to snap out of his coma. Tim’s hardly a hero though as he still refuses to let anyone call 911.

 

1. The grand finale

Gregg’s intended final segment is a “live sequel” to the movie Kramer vs. Kramer. Unfortunately Gregg loses focus on the segment because his tape of the original Kramer vs. Kramer won’t play. After Joe Estevez points out Tim’s magnets might be the problem, Gregg fumbles and curses while trying to find if any tapes in his collection are still playable.

The episode wraps up with a distraught Gregg going through his tapes while Tim’s band mates from Dekkar arrive with more liquor. Dekkar performs two songs including the aforementioned Queen cover. Suddenly the police show up — almost as Tim predicted would happen at the real Academy Awards. Tim drunkenly escapes the premises before the police can catch up to him. The police have questions about “gold man” Mark, who’s still wearing the gold Oscar suit and has blood on his face. As the episode ends Gregg is clearly talking to one police officer about Tim’s crimes against his prized VHS collection.

 
Honorable mentions

There were a few pretty crazy, but not completely outrageous moments that didn’t make my top six cut. In no particular order:

  • Gregg interviews frequent On Cinema guest Joe Estevez. Meanwhile Tim gets drunk on spiked Mountain Dew and makes loud, obnoxious comments the entire time.
  • Tim eats raw noodles from a Cup Noodles with a crazed look on his face, at one point squeezing the cup so hard it explodes sending dry noodles everywhere.
  • Gregg’s obsession with the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies continue as he hires Hobbit-themed band “Thains Of The Shire” to play despite his own personal distaste in On Cinema’s music features. When Dekkar shows up they borrow Thains Of The Shire’s instruments and equipment without asking.
  • The “Whaleman 2020” shirt Tim wears as a reference not only to his cameo role in Ant Man And The Wasp, but also is a subtle dig at Gregg who had a cameo in the first Ant Man movie.

On Cinema Live in San Francisco

January 13th, 2019


 

Last night I went to a show I’ve meant to see for ages: On Cinema Live. This particular event was at the Palace of Fine Arts and is the first of On Cinema’s upcoming live tour — for that reason I’m going to try my best to avoid major spoilers of the live show here. That said I’m dropping many spoilers of On Cinema overall so stop now if you’d like to go back and watch it all first.
 

What is On Cinema? Well… it’s tough to explain. At the core it’s a dark, slow burn comedy disguised as a Siskel and Ebert style movie review show. The two main characters are:

  • Tim Heidecker (best known as half of the Tim & Eric comedy duo) plays a version of himself as a blowhard conservative with no attention span. He’s a big fan of Trump and also alternative medicine — but only because it’s not covered by Obamacare. Tim rarely watches the movies he reviews, and often struggles to pronounce the names of well-known actors.
  • Gregg Turkington (best known as off-the-rails stand up comic “Neil Hamburger”) plays a version of himself devoted to movie expertise. In practice he cares more about quantity than quality such as when he set out to watch 501 movies in 501 days. His pride and joy is his extensive collection of VHS tapes. Unfortunately for Gregg, Tim regularly destroys these VHS tapes; often accidentally. Gregg is simply billed as a “guest” rather than a co-host due to Tim’s out of control ego.

The best way to watch On Cinema is to start with Season 1 and work your way up to the latest episode. If you don’t want to invest the time just yet here’s a brief recap.
 

The story so far

First go watch this YouTube video. It quickly sums up the first eight seasons better than I could.

Since that video was put together a few things happened in the On Cinema universe.

Tim was put on trial when 20 teenagers were killed at his “Electric Sun Desert Music Festival” after using Dr. San’s vape system (Dr. San himself committed suicide before the trial.) Once in court Tim decided to represent himself. Tim wasted most of his time settling scores including bringing Star Trek writer Nicholas Meyer to the stand in order to best Gregg in a long standing debate about which Star Trek movie takes place in San Francisco. Eventually Tim “won” the trial due to a hung jury. Gregg didn’t buy it and accused Tim of bribing a juror.

Frequent collaborator Mark Proksch nearly died during the show’s most recent Oscar Special, and has been on life support ever since.

In the 10th season of On Cinema, Tim went full Alex Jones with a sponsorship from Rio-Jenesis, a questionable company promoting germ removal products. Partway through the season the show switched to “virtual reality” which gave viewers a 360 degree view. Clever viewers discovered if you flip around in Gregg’s filthy closet you can spot Mark Proksch in a vegetative state on a hospital bed. The season ended when the family of one of the the victims seized Tim’s assets including his sponsorship income. To add insult to injury, the new owners handed control of the show to Gregg. Tim lost it, destroying the show’s set in a fit of rage and angrily announced his run for district attorney of San Bernardino County as vengeance against the current DA who nearly bested him in court.

Following Gregg’s cameo in the first Ant-Man movie, Tim had a cameo in the sequel Ant-Man and the Wasp.
 

The live show

Some first impressions: the place was packed. It hadn’t technically sold out but there weren’t many empty seats. I had no idea On Cinema had so many fans in the Bay Area.

In typical sketch format the show alternates between live performances and prerecorded videos to allow time for costume and stage changes.

My general observations:

  • Aside from Tim and Gregg, Joe Estevez appears on stage along with Tim’s Dekkar band mates Axiom and Manuel. Other characters appear on video.
  • Much to Gregg’s annoyance Tim insists on several music performances. Dekkar performed their “hits” along with two covers. Tim’s act as an incompetent rock star faking his way to success seems even funnier after someone tried to do this in real life.
  • The merchandise stand integrated into the show. Even if you don’t want a t-shirt or a hat it’s worth stopping by to participate.
  • The pacing was absolutely perfect. A lot of the show is improvised and some of the audience’s biggest laughs were Tim’s repeated failures to stifle his own laughter at Gregg’s potshots.

Some observations about On Cinema coming to San Francisco:

  • Predictably Tim and Gregg bickered about whether it was Star Trek II or Star Trek IV that takes place in San Francisco. I’ll let you decide.
  • Tim joked about taking one audience member to North Beach for an Italian meal. Gregg said fans could find him tomorrow at the Sundance Kabuki.
  • When Joe referred to mayor London Breed as “he,” Tim immediately stepped in to correct him.
  • Tim ended the show in character complaining about “San Francisco values.”

 

In honor of Gregg’s fascination with running times, the show ran about two hours and twenty minutes including an intermission.

Overall this is the funniest live show I’ve ever seen. Somehow the sheer absurdity of On Cinema is full throttle at a live show, yet unless you’ve watched the YouTube series and the companion show Decker there’s a lot of material that may fly over your head.

The live show brought its tongue-in-cheek online bickering into the real world. On the internet fans typically either side with Tim (Timheads) or Gregg (Greggheads.) Hardcore fans in the audience ate this up, frequently shouting at the stage to support their favorite character or to scorn the other.
 

My recommendation: The live show is a perfect extension of this quirky series — fans will love it. If you’re unfamiliar with it, each episode of On Cinema is only around ten minutes. You’ll know if this is for you or not after watching a couple episodes.

Top 6 worst Seinfeld episodes

December 21st, 2018

During its nine season run, Seinfeld had plenty of memorable hit episodes. But there were also a few clunkers here and there. Even the most hardcore Seinfeld fans have forgotten about many of these flops entirely, and rightfully so.

Here are the worst six episodes of Seinfeld in the order they were aired. Enjoy!
 

“The Construction”
Season 1 Episode 2

After the pilot episode “The Seinfeld Chronicles,” the show’s writers wanted to change the laundromat setting into Monk’s coffee shop. This episode centers around a mishap where Kramer’s fictional “Kramerica Industries” is accidentally hired to renovate the laundromat into the coffee shop. Rather than admit his company is fake, Kramer tasks George, Jerry, and Elaine with the required construction work. Critics found the premise funny but ultimately weren’t amused after watching the characters perform laborious construction work for 30 minutes.
 

“The Gun”
Season 2 Episode 9

Uncle Leo gets mugged and decides to buy a gun for self defense. Later that day while practicing at a firing range he accidentally shoots himself in the leg. Leo gives the gun to Kramer, who accidentally shoots himself in the leg too. Kramer gives the gun to Newman, who, after accidentally shooting himself in the leg, insists Jerry take the gun. Jerry doesn’t want it; but when a police officer sees Jerry holding the gun, the officer shoots Jerry in the leg. Elaine and George both come up to Jerry’s apartment, see the gun, and accidentally shoot one another in the leg. Though some critics praised the episode’s focus on gun safety, there was near unanimous agreement that so many characters getting shot in the leg required a complete suspension of disbelief. Fortunately the writers learned their lesson from this one and it was the last time any character on the show was shot in the leg.
 

“The Other Contest”
Season 5 Episode 1

This one attempted to piggyback on the fan favorite episode “The Contest” but critics slammed it as derivative. In the episode Jerry, George, Kramer, and Newman hold a contest where the last one to get circumcised wins. Unfortunately for Jerry he’s already circumcised so he’s out of the contest immediately. None of the other characters get circumcised during the episode, though the possibility arises when Newman accidentally gets his penis stuck in a mailbox.
 

“The Future”
Season 5 Episode 20

When a flying car crashes through the window of Jerry’s fifth floor apartment, Jerry, Kramer, and Newman discover their building was pulled through a time vortex into the future. To return to the present, Kramer builds a time warp generator out of quantum flux crystals while Jerry fine tunes the warp energy by reversing the polarity of the laser diodes. Critics panned this episode’s storyline as focusing on science fiction instead of comedy. The writers clearly learned their lesson as the show never relied on science fiction tropes for the rest of its run.
 

“The Death”
Season 7 Episode 12

George, Elaine, and Kramer attend Jerry’s funeral after he dies of a heart attack in his sleep. They each try and fail to deliver a heartfelt eulogy: George complains that Jerry still owed him five dollars when he died, Elaine says she doesn’t have anyone fun to go to the movies with anymore, and Kramer knocks over the open casket before he can say a word. Critics had mixed feelings about this episode: though it was funny, it also made no sense to kill off the show’s title character halfway through the seventh season. The writers attempted to sweep this mistake under the rug by bringing Jerry back to life in the next episode without explanation. Fun fact: This episode was never shown in syndication and only appears in the season seven DVD set as a special feature.
 

“The Bank”
Season 9 Episode 3

The final season was already off to a rocky start by the time this stinker rolled around. The entire episode focuses on Frank Costanza starting a bank specializing in subprime mortgages. While most critics at the time were puzzled by 30 minutes of Frank interacting with his bank’s clients and helping them fill out page after page of loan applications, looking back the episode predicted the subprime mortgage crisis almost a decade in advance. Although the writers took a lot of heat for this episode back in the day, perhaps they had the last laugh.

Introducing the VCR Classic Edition

July 24th, 2016


 

You may have heard the bad news recently: the last company making VCRs is about to stop production. But worry not, VCR fans: the VCR Classic Edition is here!

No, this won’t play your old tapes. Following in the steps of Nintendo, the VCR Classic Edition is 50% smaller than your old VCR and comes preloaded with 30 exciting tapes some guy in Cleveland recorded from his TV back in the day!

Tapes bundled with the VCR Classic Edition include:

  • A rerun of the final episode of MASH
  • Couple of really funny I Love Lucy episodes
  • News clip about a dead body some kids found down by the lake
  • That one Seinfeld episode about masturbating
  • …and many more!

Don’t run out to the store yet, the VCR Classic Edition hits shelves this November. We’ll update when we hear more, but early reports confirm that it won’t work with your existing remote control, but it does include HDMI output and relies on USB for power.

So much yes!

We’re looking forward to the VCR Classic Edition and can hardly wait to find the right tracking settings on some forgotten old tapes. This is a perfect example of how to preserve everyone’s favorite technology. We can’t wait!