Posts Tagged ‘on cinema’

Eight most outrageous moments during the 2021 On Cinema Oscar Special

April 27th, 2021

“It’s been” a little over a year after the last On Cinema Oscar Special, and many changes have happened. Aside from the pandemic, On Cinema was dropped along with the entire streaming portion of Adult Swim’s lineup. Thankfully this wasn’t the end of On Cinema; fans (self included) chipped in financially for the next season and this Oscar Special. It streamed this year on the new HEI Network behind a paywall. Sort of…

We can’t talk about this year’s Oscar Special without talking about last year’s, as it ended with a carbon monoxide poisoning that killed two people, including the caterer Tom Chaplin. Many blamed this on Gregg Turkington as he left his car running in the studio.

But the big thing is, On Cinema somehow manages to top itself every year. Despite the behind the scenes financial issues somehow this year did not miss a beat.

Even for those of us who’ve been fans for a long time the amazing thing about On Cinema is that the jokes go so deep it’s like peeling back layers of a thick onion, and by the time you understand them you’ll be crying — with laughter. So here we go again.

 

8. The dueling feeds

After Tim Heidecker announced his 8th Annual On Cinema Oscar Special guests — and the list didn’t include Gregg — we quickly learned that Gregg would be hosting his own 9th Annual “Our Cinema” Oscar Special, effectively one-upping Tim. And the best news? It would be completely free!

Gregg started his feed on YouTube over an hour before Tim’s “official” Oscar Special with a screening of the 1937 public domain film Affairs of Cappy Ricks. Following that, Gregg appeared on a shaky handheld camera phone camera to introduce us to a parking lot that was used in Back to the Future, and wouldn’t you know it — his car, which is now a mobile film archive, is parked there and decorated like the DeLorean from the Back to the Future films. But it gets better! Gregg himself is dressed like Marty McFly from Back to the Future 3.

Now a normal comedy show would back down on this premise of having two separate feeds right when the main one kicked in, but this is On Cinema we’re talking about. Even after Tim eventually backs down and invites Gregg to his Oscar Special, Gregg’s feed continues even to the point where he’s in the bathroom at the studio and driving away at the end.

This second feed adds an element of pure chaos. You never really know which one you should be watching, and at some points both Tim and Gregg are talking at the same time. But for the most part Gregg’s feed is pointed at the ground and you hear him grumbling and making snarky remarks about Tim’s show.

 

7. The rat test

Unable to let the events of last year’s Oscar Special go to rest, Tim has a miniature version of the set built in a glass case with a live lab rat. He intends to pump car exhaust into the case with the help of his “investigator” LaRoux in order to prove that carbon monoxide is lethal.

Things don’t quite go as planned however when the car exhaust enters the set through a hose and everyone begins coughing, apparently having learned nothing from last year. After his wife Toni protests killing a rat to prove a point, Tim relents and abandons the experiment.

Tim later claims the rat died of unrelated causes, so even if he had gone ahead with the experiment it would have rendered the results entirely inconclusive.

 

6. Fox News parody

Over the years Tim has taken on the personality of a particular brand of a conservative blowhard, and that’s very much on point here as the entire set for this Oscar Special looks straight out of Fox News.

Tim goes all in on this, kicking things off with a parody of Greg Gutfeld’s late night “comedy” show on Fox News. Despite having the appearance of The Daily Show or Last Week Tonight, all of Tim’s conservative jokes fall flat and show no self awareness whatsoever. (The entire segment can be watched above.)

(On the meta side of things, Gregg used to be a regular on Gutfeld’s previous show Red Eye but in character as Neil Hamburger.)

 

5. The repulsive catering

This year the show went in a new direction with catering, this time with a sponsorship from the shady supplement company Rio-Jenesis with their RJ’s Shake Station brand. 

Tim gets a shake that’s made with an inexplicable combination of vegetables, some kind of potato soup, hard liquor, and a supplement from Rio Jenesis called “VaxxBlock” which is intended to prevent the COVID-19 vaccines from working.

After all, as a Trumpian conservative Tim wants the advantages of the vaccine like being able to travel abroad without the disadvantages such as whatever conspiracy theories are being touted this week.

But most importantly, he wants to get drunk.

 

4. The singer

Wendy Kirby, a young friend of Toni’s from her church is brought in as the singer for this year’s Oscar Special. She’s also the brother of the guy running the catering stand.

She sings a version of Tim’s song “Empty Bottle,” perhaps the fifth or sixth version we’ve heard so far. It quickly becomes clear she doesn’t know all the lyrics though nobody seems to even notice or care.

At the end she’s trotted out again over the disastrous ending — which I’ll get to a moment — to sing a rendition of “Back In the High Life Again” by Steve Winwood. (Or should it be “Back in the HEI Life Again”?) 

 

3. Toni’s cosmetic face masks

Tim’s horrible wife Toni Newman is just as much of a scam artist as her husband, and is now hawking a line of cosmetic face masks. To demonstrate them she applies them to both Tim and his bandmate Manuel, with Tim immediately complaining of a burning sensation and is unable to remove the mask despite pouring ice all over his face.

After a break, Tim’s face has gone from spray-tan orange to bright red, and he’s kicked his wife Toni off the set. Manuel hasn’t suffered, though it’s worth noting that part of Tim’s facial skin was grafted from Manuel’s lower back or “ass” in season 8 after Tim accidentally set himself on fire.

 

2. Tim’s stepson and potential new child

Matt Newman was introduced at the last Oscar Special as Tim’s stepson from his current wife Toni. Despite an awkward conversation between the two of them it was clear that Matt was into online video games and not much else.

This time Matt was back via an unstable Zoom call and seemed more focused on playing games than interacting with Tim.

Tim drunkenly told Matt — or tried to anyway — that he’ll soon be having a new sibling as he just got Toni pregnant. Toni isn’t particularly appreciative of Tim sharing this news as it wasn’t meant to be public yet. It also doesn’t bode well for the pregnancy as Toni is drinking schnapps throughout the special.

 

1. Gregg storming off the set and escaping LaRoux

Tim’s ongoing plan to investigate the carbon monoxide poisoning of the last Oscar Special ends with LaRoux blaming everything on Gregg. This causes Gregg to storm off the set and lock himself in his car/mobile film archive. 

When Gregg attempts to leave he’s intercepted by LaRoux who tries to block him. It’s implied (though not shown) that Gregg ran over LaRoux with his car while escaping. None of this is shown in either feed, though we soon see Gregg driving away on his feed and Wendy singing “Back in the HEI Life Again” on Tim’s feed.

Over the credits, Tim claims that LaRoux was injured but will be okay, implying that yet another Oscar Special has resulted in needless injuries. Plus a dead rat.

 

Honorable mentions

  • Tim unveils a new song for his wife, “Your Love Gets Me HEI,” which is just as cringe-inducing as the title would suggest.
  • Mark is back… sort of. A fan’s home footage of Mark included Mark saying he didn’t want to be involved with the “VFW”, which may have been a confused reference to Gregg’s VFA or perhaps something else? It raised more questions than answers, but the point is that Mark is still alive after all.
  • Al Pacino’s birthday! This didn’t go anywhere despite several segments including Manuel and Axiom impersonating Pacino. Gregg verbally shat all over Pacino for declining to participate in several of his favorite film franchises.
  • The Minions! Ever since Tim announced the HEI Network, he’s complained off and on about Minions — the characters from the Despicable Me franchise — appearing on his website allegedly due to hackers. During this Oscar Special a Minion stuffed animal appeared in various shots, sometimes noted by Tim but often not. 
  • Josh Trank, who directed the Fantastic Four movie (which Tim had a small part in) called in via Zoom. Gregg used this segment to reignite a debate about whether or not Tim paid a fee to appear in this movie, though it was ultimately unresolved as Trank’s Zoom connection was unstable.
  • Despite Tim’s ongoing social media claim that Axiom is his new “Mister Movies” it was clear Axiom hadn’t seen any of the movies nominated for this year’s Oscars. The usually spineless Joe Estevez convinced Tim to bring Gregg back to the show to provide movie expertise. And wouldn’t you know it, underneath his Back to the Future 3 costume Gregg was wearing a yellow t-shirt with a custom screen print that says “The REAL Mister Movies.” 

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.

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.

Denver wrap up and stray observations

April 30th, 2019

16th St Mall in the evening
Denver’s 16th Street mall in the evening
 

Now that I’ve left Denver I thought I’d reflect on some of what I noticed there, both big and small.

Let me get the two big ones out of the way first:

  1. Yes, the rumors are true: Denver is a very hipster city. Food halls, tiny concert venues, third wave coffee roasters, fancy men’s barber shops, small-batch breweries — it’s all there.
  2. The elevation wasn’t as noticeable as I thought it would be. I walked a lot more than usual while I was there too; perhaps it helps that Denver’s a relatively flat city?

 
Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception
 

From the top of the capitol building I spotted a striking neo-Gothic church. I asked the tour guide about it and he said it’s called the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.

I tried visiting a couple times to look at the interior but on both occasions the door was locked. The sign said it was open for other activities both earlier and later that same day — is it just me or is it a little weird for such a grand looking church to lock the doors during the middle of the day?

 
C Squared (cider brewery)
 

While perusing a Whole Foods for breakfast options I came across the beer aisle, suddenly craving an apple cider. I couldn’t find any, so I asked an employee where I could find the ciders. She sighed and explained that in Colorado, grocery stores couldn’t even sell beer until very recently, and they still couldn’t sell wine — and for whatever reason cider is considered wine. Apparently you have to go to a liquor store to buy any alcoholic beverage other than beer.

Keep in mind, this is a state where marijuana is legal.

Anyway the next day while taking photos of street art in RiNo I noticed a big warehouse-looking building with a sign that said C Squared Ciders. I went in, walked upstairs, and found myself in their tasting room, overlooking their cider production facilities. I ordered a cider flight, as seen in the above photo. That really hit the spot.

 
Transamerica non-pyramid
 

The offices of Transamerica in Denver are in a boring looking office tower, but at the top there’s a sign with their Transamerica Pyramid logo. It seems funny to me for a company to be so closely associated with a building that they’d attach an image of it to other, much less iconic buildings.

 
Coors Field
 

Oh and speaking of buildings that reminded me of San Francisco, Coors Field — home of the Rockies baseball team — looks awfully similar to AT&T Park Oracle Park. As it happens, Coors Field was built only a few years earlier and both share the same architects.

The design aesthetics have a reason for looking so similar. The brick facades of both ballparks reflect the prevailing architecture lining both Downtown Denver and San Francisco’s SOMA, where old brick shipping warehouses have been repurposed for new uses.

 
Washington Park
 

Although Washington Park is not a very interesting neighborhood in general, its namesake park features two lakes, a boathouse, a large picnic area, and a huge path around the park that’s only for biking, walking, and jogging.

A few blocks from the park is “Old South Gaylord Street,” where one block of an otherwise residential street is lined with restaurants and boutiques. Unfortunately for me I just wanted coffee and the one thing unexpectedly missing from Old South Gaylord Street is a cafe.

 

 

Although I’d already seen On Cinema Live a few months ago in San Francisco, I had no doubt I wanted to see their live show a second time.

I was pretty bummed when I was halfway through planning this trip and realized I’d have to miss their live show in Chicago — so when they announced a Denver show that lined up with my plans perfectly, I jumped at the chance. Turns out I wasn’t the only one interested; for a live show based on a web series that’s barely promoted at all, the place was packed.
 

That wraps up Denver; next time I’ll begin posting on my adventures in Salt Lake City.

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.