In 2012, Tim Heidecker stepped out of his Tim and Eric bubble to make The Comedy with writer and director Rick Alverson. It’s a strange and powerful film that finds humor in the uncomfortable and pathetic depiction of an aging hipster and his friends galavanting around Williamsburg to avoid their responsibilities. While a far departure from the Awesome Show, Great Job! aesthetic, the film features some of the usual suspects alongside Heidecker, like Eric Wareheim, LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy, and Gregg Turkington (aka comedian Neil Hamburger, Heidecker’s cohost at On Cinema At The Cinema).
Now, according to Deadline, Heidecker and Alverson are teaming up again to create a vehicle for Turkington.
Called Entertainment, the movie will have Turkington play a struggling and aging entertainer known only as “The Comedian,” who travels across the Southwest on a long and winding road trip to track down his estranged daughter and rekindle his failing career along the way. The constant barrage of unsuccessful shows and meet-ups with weirdo locals on his journey cause him to sink further and further into some sort of weirdness himself. After all, he’s just a comedian, right?
For anyone familiar with Turkington’s work under his Neil Hamburger persona, this is the perfect showcase for the anti-comedian. Hamburger is a greasy, combover-ed remnant of some standup era that has been long forgotten, and he’s none too pleased about it. Painfully slow and nasal, his jokes are more lists of things he hates. If anyone understands playing to an empty room, it’s this man.
Entertainment, which will be written by Heidecker and Alverson and directed by the latter, is being rounded out by a substantial cast that includes Michael Cera, Dean Stockwell, Tye Sheridan (Mud), Angeliki Papoulia (Dogtooth) and frequent Heidecker collaborator, Dr. Steve Brule himself, John C. Reilly. And really, if you have never seen Reilly’s stirring performance in Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie as Taquito, the man who was raised by wolves in a shopping mall and is always sick, then you are doing yourself a grave disservice. It’s unclear who they’ll all be playing, but it’s safe to bet that they’re some of the colorful characters The Comedian meets in his journey through the desert.
If the film is anything like Alverson’s The Comedy, it will be funny in the barest terms of the word. Funny because Heidecker and Alverson and Turkington are talented and know how to spin discomfort into … entertainment. But it will also linger in that discomfort and make audiences realize that maybe, even though this is about a comedian, it’s not going to be such a happy story. Turkington’s the perfect man to pull it off.