The Best Bits of Wisdom from Tim Heidecker’s ‘Office Hours’
A few fun facts about Tim Heidecker: He’s vehemently anti-fireworks. He doesn’t pick favorites. He sometimes makes his own iced coffee. His wife recently encouraged him to be nicer to his fans, and he has a three-year-old daughter named Amelia with a baby boy on the way (who might be here by now?). Most importantly, however, he’s very aware that fans of his work spanning back to Tom Goes to Mayor often have trouble pushing beyond the “Tim Heidecker” character mystique, and between all the Tims out there — the On Cinema Tim, the Tim and Eric Tim, the Twitter Tim, the sarcastic interview bit Tim — it begs the question: What is the “real” Tim like, anyway?
Enter Office Hours. Since May, Heidecker has been hosting a live 90-minute show for fans on Facebook, where he takes Skype calls from his office at Abso Lutely Productions and fields questions, comments, and complaints from anyone and everyone, with slight preference given to women as well as other Tims to talk about “the shared experience.” So far he’s chatted with fans from the US, UK, Canada, Germany, Spain, France, Sweden, Qatar, Brazil, Israel, New Zealand, and Australia, and you never know when you’ll get a special guest appearance from Nathan Fielder, Vic Berger, or John C. Reilly, who uses the Office Hours platform to check in with Tim, react to other calls, talk about acai bowls, and tease viewers about his in-the-works Office Hours after-show After Hours.
In other words, Office Hours is another complex, ever-expanding Tim Heidecker universe that gets more rewarding the more you take in, only this time it’s not a fictional one. The show is not, nor is it trying to be, too structured or polished — expect plenty of feedback loops, dropped calls, audio glitches, awkward fans, and burps from Tim — but what it lacks in professional slickness it makes up for in candid DIY charm. Pretty much anything goes on the show, except Heidecker wants callers and commenters to respect a few simple rules: Keep it positive, don’t talk to him like he’s one of his TV characters, and mute your feed when he picks up your call. Other than that, it doesn’t matter if you want to ask him about comedy, the presidential election, your favorite Tim Heidecker project, or a weird acting class you took at Andy Dick’s house in Malibu. He might be interested in what you have to say or be bored and hang up on you, and that unpredictability often leads to some wonderfully sincere, revealing moments from the man himself.
Some Office Hours episodes are lost thanks to Facebook removing them for copyright reasons, but if you haven’t checked out the show yet, you can listen to episodes on Feral Audio and keep an eye on Heidecker’s Twitter and Facebook pages on weekday mornings for new ones. If you’d rather do the latter than catch up on over 20 hours of calls, here’s a collection of some of the most interesting, entertaining, or enlightening things Heidecker has shared with fans during Office Hours so far:
Tim on Steve Martin’s approach to comedy and the term “anti-comedy” (5/27)
He said when he was developing his act that he was doing jokes that were more traditional and sort of setup-punchline setup-punchline, and what he noticed was that there was like a “normal” reaction from the audience. They would laugh when they knew they were supposed to laugh, you know? And what he was trying to do was get to that place where when you’re with your friends and you’re laughing and you don’t even know why you’re laughing. You’re crying laughing, the laughter is rolling, and it’s sort of taking over your body. And it’s not really following the patterns and rhythms of traditional setup-joke setup-joke punchline-style comedy, and that’s when he started doing more adventurous, weirder, sort of self-aware “the audience has to be aware that this isn’t really that guy” and the jokes aren’t laid out for you the way that you’re used to.
So that’s always what I’m trying to do, and the people I know and love and respect are always trying to do that. I didn’t realize I was trying to do that, but when he said it just the other day it clicked with me. When I’m presenting my work, whether it’s the TV shows or my standup comedy, what I’m really trying to get people to do is have that feeling of when you’re just uncontrollably laughing and you’re not sure why and it’s not coming in the normal ways that traditional comedy comes at. I have nothing but love and respect for different kinds of comedy. I don’t like it when it’s coming from a disingenuous place or when it’s a little cynical or when it’s guys or girls who seem to know the moves and are just going through the moves. But “anti-comedy” — fuck that word. It’s stupid.
Tim shares his thoughts on comedy classes (8/9)
Nobody needs to take any classes about how to do comedy. It’s not like learning how to change a battery in a car. It’s not brain surgery. There’s no point in taking classes for comedy! All that crap — the people who take the UCB classes — the classes are ruining comedy. It’s teaching everyone a code and rules. Maybe it’s good for invalids or something, it gets people out of the house. Aside from that, it provides no value and it’s got to stop. Take classes if you want to learn how to speak Chinese or whatever. You think Steve Martin ever took some goddamn comedy classes?
Tim responds to a long-winded film pitch from a Tisch graduate (6/7)
I gotta say, a sour note was hit when you identified that you just graduated from Tisch, all right? We have enough of you. We have enough of these NYU elitists who are coming out and expect the world handed to them on a silver platter. I would suggest you get a job at a pizza parlor, live life a little bit, engage with the human race, travel, and connect with whatever it is around you.
Tim responds to a caller who doesn’t understand why diversity is good for everyone (9/22)
Because you get to know someone that you didn’t know before, you get to learn from their experiences, you get to absorb some of their culture, you get to exchange some culture that you like, and generally, it’s healthy for society to be diverse and full of different colors and different experiences and different foods and different music. This seems very, very obvious to me and to most of the people that I believe are listening, but if that’s not the way you want the world to live, I think you could probably find a community in the United States where you’ll be amongst people that think and act like you. So what’s the problem? You seem very upset about losing something about what America is that probably never really existed. So what I’m saying is, tackle something smaller in your life than this.
Tim on 4chan/alt-right harassers (8/9)
You know, I am so amazed at these losers out there on the internet — and I’m talking about people on these 4chan sites and people that write me when I was doing the convention stuff — these assholes who come at me and whine and bitch that I’m a liberal cuck, libtard cuck, a Democratic shill, and all this crap, and then I look on their profile and I see all these terrible things that they’ve said to other people using all kinds of derogatory language and anti-Semitic, and they come at me and they say that they used to be a fan of mine and how they can’t stand me anymore because I dare express my opinions or I use my comedy in different ways than they like. Anyways, so they go on and on from their little fucking basement, and then when I go on the air here and I’m on this Office Hours — which I announce and I put out there publicly — these losers, these little pigs don’t have the guts, they don’t have the brains probably, they don’t have the guts, frankly, to call in and challenge me in the flesh in person. They just sit and they squirm, and they’re so pathetic.
Tim on Donald Trump (6/13)
He’s a clown. He’s dangerous, possibly psychotic, possibly mentally ill — I’m wondering that maybe there’s some kind of brain disorder, tumor, early-onset Alzheimer’s — megalomaniacal, and totally dangerous for my personal future, my friends’ future, and the future of our republic, my children, and he must be stopped.
Tim on Hillary Clinton (6/13)
I don’t have the strongest feelings — I don’t have as strong negative feelings. Qualified, competent, and, you know, not a saint.
Tim reveals where he stands on fireworks (6/30)
I am vehemently anti-fireworks, folks. I’m anti-fireworks. We have enough fireworks in our own lives and in our own interpersonal dynamics that we don’t need a bunch of loud… I’ll tell you why I’m against the fireworks. My dog really gets upset with the fireworks. We get the full-on barking and diarrhea and just full-on panic with the fireworks, and we just don’t need them anymore. We don’t need the fireworks, okay? We have TV. We can watch TV — that’s much more dynamic and entertaining than any fireworks.
Tim shares the story behind his “I Am a Rock” parody “I Am a Cuck” (8/31)
For fifteen years, since we first started putting stuff on the internet, there has been a kind of person that’s online that we all know about that has sort of been nameless and faceless for many years who goes on websites and message boards and my comment sections or videos — and the word is “troll,” and I don’t really like that word — but it’s just really negative. From the first show we made, the first episode of Tom Goes to the Mayor, right there on the message board, you know: “Fuck these guys, Tim and Eric have AIDS, they’re faggots, I hope they die in a fire.” So that’s been in my life for a long time. And it comes and goes, it ebbs and flows, and what I’ve noticed lately is they’ve sort of coalesced behind a political movement, these people. And they now sort of have a set of ideas or a worldview that, to me, is just horrifying and scary, really.
And I, for years now, as you guys know, have been making fun of Donald Trump mostly, and in a way that I think is targeting what I believe to be him being a maniac. Which isn’t really that exciting anymore, because it’s now become just so mainstream, right? But like, eight years ago — 2010 or something — I was doing material about that, about how ridiculous it would be for him to be considered a serious candidate. And then I went off and I did the convention special with Vic [Berger], and of course I’ve been very supportive of Vic and pushing his stuff, which is, you know, partisan. It’s become partisan now — it’s become sort of standing for one thing over another thing. Not necessarily Hillary Clinton or the Democrats or whatever, but sort of standing against some things in the comedy.
And then on the other side of it, I love hearing from somebody like you on Twitter. I love the engagement I get from you and all these other great people who play along in the On Cinema world. It’s so fun for me — I never really talk about it very much, but it’s so fun for me to have access to you guys and to be able to communicate with you guys in that forum. But then that forum gets clogged with these shit stains who have… I don’t know if they’re organized in any way or if they have some kind of conversation somewhere else — I know there was some message board shit about me — but people coming together and saying how they used to be fans, which I don’t get, and then they start hurling these insults my way. I look at these profiles and they’re just straight-ahead white supremacists, just guys with Hitler shit in their timelines, which is just like, come on, that’s no good. Who’s on that side of things, right?
So that freaks me out. And somebody will be like “Just ignore it!” Well, I don’t want to ignore it really because years ago they were just these people online saying shit about our show, but now it seems like they actually have some real political capital right now. So anyways, I got all this shit over the course of a couple weeks, just somehow concentrated, and it was all those words I said in the song: cuck, libtard, fag, this and that. And what do I do with that? First of all, “Oh he’s getting all butthurt” — there’s like five words these people know, you know? “He’s butthurt, he’s thin-skinned” — well guess what? I am thin-skinned! You would be too if you made shit and worked really hard and had this really positive experience making things and engaging with my audience out there. I’m not just gonna be like “Who cares?”
Tim gives a 13-year-old fan a special lifelong award (6/30)
This sounds like a lifer. I’m gonna give you an award. Are you ready for the award? You are now officially the #1 Tim and Eric Fan in the History of the World, okay? And it’s a lifelong appointment, it cannot be debated or changed. It’s yours for life. So you can tell all your friends that — that it’s been deemed you are now the #1 Tim and Eric Fan of All Time in the World, is the official title. There’ll be a free t-shirt coming along with that in the near future, so if you go to the Facebook page and send me a private message and just let me know how we can reach you, we’ll get that out to you promptly.
So congratulations, and I do want you to remember that your future is ahead of you and there’s nothing but brightness and glory ahead, and as long as you respect your new title as the #1 Tim and Eric Fan in the Entire World and treat other fans and other people with respect and grace and don’t flaunt it — don’t be obnoxious about it — you will thrive and you will prosper. Give your brother a hug and tell him thank you for exposing our work to you, and tell your parents that I appreciate them and they’re raising a wonderful young girl.