A prominent British sketch performer once told me that "Americans can't do sketch comedy." Meanwhile, the British character comic Kevin Eldon once said: "If I see comedy which I consider, in my very judgmental little head, to be lazy or weak it actually offends me." It's these quotes that spring to mind when faced with the lack of charm and quality in this American duo's live show.
Having crossed from internet to DVD to TV, Tim & Eric have roped in talents including The Hangover's Zach Galifianakis, John C Reilly, Paul Rudd, Will Ferrell, Jeff Goldblum and Ben Stiller. The roll call of cameos and collaborators screams comedian's comedian status and with that accolade come novelty value and niche appeal.
The UK debut shows of Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim have sold strongly. Tonight's crowd of young, studenty fans, who seem prepared to laugh at anything thrown at them, are clearly very familiar with their work.
After an adequate support slot from Doug Lussenhop as DJ Douggpound, the duo's first sketch sees them gaily singing "diarrhoea" in body costumes with over-sized testicles. The proceedings rarely rise above that baseline. That is, when the duo are on stage and not relying on a greatest hits selection from their TV shows, which include Reilly's babbling characters, a take on a studio sitcom about three boys living together that features Galifianakis (and one visual joke abut a bag of dildos), and the excellent Rudd at least raising something approaching a smile with a character who downloads a version of himself doing various silly dances.
When not relying on former "glories" we are regaled with, among others, Heidecker's adolescent characters who complain "never gonna wipe my butt" or later "I haven't done my work" in response to Wareheim's wigged-up mother figure singing "time to go to school" to the melody of clock chimes. Later, Wareheim dresses as a hamburger and sings: "I like parties/I like fun/I want to live in a hamburger bun." With that, the final gherkin of despair is laid on top of the messy burger of anti-comedy. Belch. Diarrhoea encore. Bad job.
Tonight at Electric Ballroom, London (020 7485 9006)