The Tim And Eric Awesome Show Great Job! Chrimbus Special airs tonight at midnight EST, on Adult Swim.
Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim's one-off holiday special—complementing an adjoining nationwide tour—is the longest single thing they've ever done. The show was only written in 15-minute increments, and the series finale at the end of season five, the previous record holder, topped out at 30. The hour-long running time both helps and hurts what Tim and Eric do. On one hand, there's plenty of randomness in the hour as there would be in any given episode of Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!—segments that don't relate to anything and compound their weirdness only to get isolated laughs. The duo is still great at those. Trickier, though, are the members' attempts at longer-running gags that by sheer length require an odd logic be introduced to keep things moving. The Chrimbus special fires off the short sketches betwixt longer character segments, and the result, while uneven, is a strong display of what Tim and Eric are capable of.
As per most episodes of the show, the Chrimbus Special is done with Tim and Eric introducing each segment, going off for some sketches, and cutting back to the studio for an introduction to the next chunk. Costumes have always been a big part of Tim & Eric, and Chrimbus does not disappoint. Tim and Eric emerge having bronzed their skin a Boehner orange, reminiscent of oompa loompas. There are also back-up dancers, or should I say "dancers," what for their paltry dance moves and Eric's constant berating of said moves. An audience composed almost entirely of middle-aged, sad-looking men who laugh precisely on cue adds to the eerie-ness of the set-up, and makes coming back to this world—be it to pay a visit to Dee Vee the mini-yeti, or learn how to keep the Chrimbus bush trim and wet—pretty enjoyable.
There are plenty of surprising sketches. Steve Brule and Tairy Greene make appearances, as does the voice of Bob Odenkirk shilling for something called a Pasta Bear. James Quall does the most surreal stand-up of the show's history, and the audience's seemingly random laughter makes it all the stranger. When there's little rhyme or reason behind what's happening, Chrimbus is strongest. Tim and Eric have an uncanny ability to push themselves beyond the realm of decency/predictability/shock and present their ideas unencumbered. Take one look at Winter Man and report back.
But when Chrimbus revisits send-ups a few times, some of the surprise is lost. The episode cuts to Chrimbus Carol stories—Carol, played by Eric, is upset because her husband no longer treats her like shit. She rebels against his niceness, and the whole story ends with some of the most violent stuff of Tim & Eric's career. The bookends are great, but it's hard to build comic tension when you're operating at the gross-out, balls-out frequency of Tim & Eric. The Chrimbus Carol segments, therefore, feel choppy—one part will be outrageously funny, while others repeat gags and patterns we've already seen in previous sketches.
Chrimbus is also extremely meta. One of the games of the episode is finding new ways to plug the DVD, and though some are pretty obvious, the pay-off at the end more than makes up for occasionally clunky set-up. The episode also contains more than a few shout-outs to Cinco, including a neat little graphic that shows off a lot of the fake products Tim and Eric have created over the years. Characters from previous sketches come back, like the broach guy, and reprise the roles and grossness that made them "famous." Plus, one of the Tim & Eric regulars appears only in the closing credits. Chrimbus falls into a nice rhythm with it all. When a joke doesn't land, there are a bunch more around the corner to take its place. And even during slow spots, the special, like the entire show, is endlessly fascinating.