The Life and Times of Tim
Jokes malfunction for all kinds of reasons. Some “people” just don’t know when to quit it. Aerial Telly has been a funny fucker for as long as he can remember. Born the youngest of a gigantic Mick family he was forced from an early age to develop sharp witty repartee to defend against the onslaught of emotional abuse from cruel predatory siblings. His family quickly learned that fucking with the youngest of the litter simply bought you a mouthful of profanity, a box full of unpleasant home truths and a seemingly endless line of withering putdowns. He quickly earned their respect as a ferocious battlecat, fearless sayer of the unsaid and lacerating quipster. He only mentions this because this week he was employing his comic expertise in diagnosing why The Life and Times of Tim, HBO’s adult animation, blew so long and hard. You’ll hear a different story elsewhere but you know by now to listen only to Aerial Telly and not to these suckers masquerading as TV critics. Tim Goodman, of The San Francisco Chronicle, said that the show was “flat-out brilliant and easily one of the funniest newcomers to television”. Well Aerial Telly begs to differ.
Anyway, the premise: Tim is a twentysomething New Yorker created by Steve Dildarian (famous for that almost amusing Budweiser Lizards campaign in his previous adscum life) who keeps on getting himself into a series of awkward situations. On one level, the jokes in The Life and Times of Tim don’t work because they are lazy, generic and crass but we need to examine that more closely. John Vorhaus in The Comic Toolbox speaks of the need for a comic flaw in your comedy character. Felix from The Odd Couple is obsessively clean, Basil Fawlty is a craven snob and Sam Malone just can’t stop fucking. Comic flaws are like opinions and a desire to kill Kathy Lette – everyone’s got one.
“Comic flaws are like opinions and a desire to kill Kathy Lette – everyone’s got one.
Except Tim doesn’t have a comic flaw because he doesn’t have an identifiable personality. He deadpans his way through every situation he gets into. “Things just happen” to Tim. But why do they happen? Things “just happen” to Victor Meldrew but the funny thing is his reaction to them and how when he attempts to fix them he just makes things worse. There is an implication that negative people attract negative events and he has an excellent comic foil in his making-the-best-of-things wife.
“Is Tim an incorrigible horndog in any of the other episodes? No. Does he show any interest in sex at all? No. So what is he doing with a prostitute? And why do we care?”
What are some of the things that “just happen” to Tim? Well, in the first episode his girlfriend Amy comes home from holiday early with her parents to find him with an angry unpaid hooker. Why has this happened? Is Tim an incorrigible horndog in any of the other episodes? No. Does he show any interest in sex at all? No. So what is he doing with a prostitute? And why do we care?
“Finding an affinity between two previously unrelated things and revealing something new, startling an amusing about those things is one of the principles of comedy.”
Generic and lazy as it is, a girlfriend coming home early to find her boyfriend with a prostitute could be funny. But Amy just rolls her eyes treats it like he’s spilled something on the rug. If she doesn’t care, why should we?
In the second episode, Tim and two co-workers decided to lie to the rest of the office about what they got up to on what was a boring stag night. Unbeknownst to him, his two co-workers tell the office that he was “raped by a bum”.
Now while male rape is a source of endless humour for many, I’m afraid this won’t do. Tim protests that the story was a lie but is forced to go to counselling and then to the police. And when the police find out it is a lie they make him go on 60 Minutes to talk about the rape. And again, I ask: why? I know you’re a wacky zany-as-can-be cartoon but even oddball characters have to have an internal logic to their actions or nothing they say or do is funny.
Morons will say LOL! OMG!!! sO RANDOM but randomness is not funny. Even the most surreal comedy has a logic to it or it simply doesn’t work. Finding an affinity between two previously unrelated things and revealing something new, startling and amusing about those things is one of the principles of comedy. You think it’s random? You’re wrong. When it works, nothing is arbitrary.
And the animation sucks 50 different types of cock. Seriously, what is it with you “people”?
The best thing about it: It’s over relatively quickly.
The worst thing about it: The fact that no one, including the creator, cares about the characters
The verdict on The Life and Times of Tim: If you like this, you’s a double-drag fool.
Marks out of 10: 4
Imagined: 24th October 2008