Talking to Eric Wareheim About JASH and ‘Tim & Eric’s Bedtime Stories’
Tim and Eric’s new YouTube channel JASH may not have the same amazing ring to it as Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, but fans of the TV show will be happy to know JASH has a lot of the same sensibilities.
And it would be one thing if JASH was exclusively a venture between Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim, but the channel has comedic heavyweights Reggie Watts, Sarah Silverman, and Michael Cera as partners as well.
Together, they’re producing short films, music videos, web series, and other projects for JASH, which Wareheim describes as a “place of good.” Since Tim and Eric went off Adult Swim three years ago, the duo has been busy. They made their first feature film, Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie, and, in the case of Heidecker, have been popping up in movies in both supporting (Bridesmaids) and leading roles (The Comedy). Wareheim has also done some acting, but is spending more time behind the camera, making a name for himself as a go-to music video director (Check out this insane video he directed for Beach House’s “Wishes”).
I recently had the opportunity to talk to Wareheim about the origins of JASH, making Billion Dollar Movie, and why doing mainstream comedy doesn’t interest him.
So what is JASH? And what does it mean?
JASH is a place of good. It’s one of the only places of good on the internet. We all came together and said, “How can we have one area, one small nook that is not bullshit like the rest of the world? Let’s make amazing videos.” Whether they are lo-fi comedy sketches or high-production videos, when you watch a JASH video you know it’s from Sarah or Reggie or Tim & Eric or Michael… So far I’m really happy how it’s come out. We’re friends, but we’re also competing in a friendly way. It forces us to work harder, because we’re making each other laugh.
The videos are really funny. I loved the promo video. Those were some sweet cars.
Those are actually our real cars. It’s no big deal.
Are you doing this independently? Is there a studio behind it?
It’s a Google/YouTube thing. They paid to create it, and we teamed up with Daniel Kellison (ex-producer of Jimmy Kimmel Live) … We’re all partners at this company. If it does well, we all make money. It’s very cool. It’s like a co-op situation.
Did you and Tim spearhead it and bring other people in? The promo video feels like a Cinco video. It has the Tim & Eric style.
The intro video feels very Tim & Eric. We spearheaded that particular video, but it’s really an equal collaboration from everyone. When you see Michael Cera’s stuff, he’s only going to be putting out really beautiful short films – so that will be a really nice contrast to some of the Cinco-type stuff we’re doing or the musical stuff Reggie is doing . The reason that we’re working together is because we have a shared sensibility, we all have a distinct view on comedy and the world.
Can we expect to see some of the old Tim & Eric gang in there? Any James Quall, David Liebe Hart, Pierre?
It’s totally wide open. We haven’t gotten that far out yet. We had an idea for James – can’t remember what it was – but we’d love to have those guys back. We have some new videos coming out. One of them is a life coaching video that will feel very Tim & Eric, very Bob Ross. It’s called “Pampers Pre-Natal Life Coaching.” It’s a lot of scary men saying things to your baby, your pregnant wife. Very disturbing.
Do you keep in touch with those guys that did the Tim & Eric sketches, like James and David?
Yes, James and David are part of our family – we’ve taken them on tour. We’re pretty close with them at times. Other times, we have to ask them for a little bit of breathing room [Laughs]. We also help them out financially, selling their t-shirts and helping them out that way.
That’s awesome. And you gave them a role in your movie.
Let’s talk a little bit about the movie. The thing I’m most interested in is how did you get Robert Loggia to be in it?
[Laughs]. That’s a good question. We told our producers we’d like to get a Robert Loggia person in the movie and we got the actual Robert Loggia. We didn’t know him. Martin Lesak from CAA is friends with Robert’s manager and agent, and he told them that Tim & Eric really wanted him to be in the movie … it was one of those favors at a high level. Robert got to set and was like, “What the hell am I doing here?” but he actually had a really good time.
Would you want to do another movie?
Yes. Right now we are working on a brand-new show called Tim & Eric’s Bedtime Stories for Adult Swim, which is going to be very Twilight Zone-esque. After we do that, I think we’ll get back and write something else. We’re open to doing another film.
Where did Billion Dollar Movie’s financing come from? Was there a studio involved?
It came from one company – Magnolia – so it still felt very independent. We are hoping to get into that type of a situation again. We know that in a Tim & Eric universe, there are only a certain amount of people that want to get into that type of thing – and we are happy that we can make a certain amount of money back, and people get paid, and we can live off of it. We love the level of success that we are at and want to continue.
But in the meantime, you’re taking a break and working on the show. When will it premiere?
We just submitted the pilot and hopefully they like it and make it into a series right away. We’re hoping for fall / winter 2013.
If an opportunity ever presented itself for you to direct a more conventional comedy, would that appeal to you?
No … Tim will actually act in comedies, but lately I’ve preferred switching to a behind-the-scenes role – I want to shoot more music videos and more films. But the idea of doing a mainstream comedy does not appeal to us at all.
You’d rather do something you can write?
I’d direct a script that was captivating, interesting and unique but there is nothing charming to me about directing an episode of Workaholics, although they’re great … We got so lucky that someone gave us any money to make our stuff. So of course we’d like to keep making our stuff until someone says we need to stop it. It’s a huge prank that we’re playing on the whole business – we got a TV show, a movie, and a production company. We are so grateful and we know how lucky we are. It’s amazing that we can earn a living making the things that we do. Every day, we wake up in houses! [Laughs].
It’s also really admirable that you’re not just doing stuff for a payday.
That’s a good point, and that’s what we’re trying to do with JASH – keep integrity. How can we make a YouTube channel that doesn’t have a bajillion ads, and people can go and feel COOL again – feel it’s a cool experience where they know the people involved with it? You won’t get fucked with. You’re not going to a comedy site online where you get barraged with bullshit.
You mentioned Tim is doing more acting now. Do you have a preference between the behind-the-scenes stuff and performing?
I definitely prefer directing, but acting is fun. I’m in this movie called Wrong Cops. It’s a surreal cop story and Marilyn Manson is in it and Ray Wise. And the same director is thinking of writing a movie for me. So I’ll work with people who do really avant-garde stuff but I’m mostly into directing, and acting when the product is intriguing.
Who directed Wrong Cops?
Was Rubber the one about the tire?
Yes, he’s making some real next level stuff that is amazing.
Going back to JASH, do you see that as being the future of filmmaking and media and short films?
Yes, definitely. The way that I cultivate is, I’ve hooked up my Apple TV to a projector at my house – Hulu and Netflix and YouTube are my TV channels. So when I saw that, I was like “holy shit!” You can stay on YouTube, and use it like an on-demand service. The buttons aren’t there yet, but a new Hulu original series, or Netflix’s House of Cards, that is taking over for sure.
What’s your involvement is with Nathan For You?
Our company produces it. We’re not involved creatively per se, except we let Nathan use our editors and producers. He’s on the Abso Lutely team, but they kind of make that show, him and Michael Koman in a bubble. We think that show is so brilliant.
So any other upcoming projects besides Bedtime Stories we can look forward to?
That’s what we’re focused on right now. We’re also writing a mini-movie for Adult Swim called “Tim & Eric Go to the Moon” about a moon colony. It’s dark, but really funny. Keep an eye out for that.
Phil Davidson writes about, performs and produces comedy.