Tim & Eric Want You to Confuse Their New 'Beef House' Sitcom With 'Fuller House'

Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim have been fixtures on Cartoon Network's late-night programming block Adult Swim for nearly 20 years, but they've never done anything quite like Beef House, their new show premiering Sunday, March 29. Unlike Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, with its frenetic channel-flipping sketches, or the sustained, episodic surreality of Tim & Eric's Bedtime Stories, Beef House is an ongoing "family" sitcom, returning each week to the kind of scenarios that have fueled decades of brightly lit living room soundstage sets.

The titular Beef House is home to wannabe-rock star/slacker Tim, anxious house-husband Eric and his wife, Detective Megan (Jamie-Lynn Sigler of The Sopranos), who are crowded in the Beef House alongside three additional roommates, played by Ron Austar, Ben Hur and Tennessee Luke—each a familiar face from Awesome Show's expansive world of oddballs.

The residents of 'Beef House.' Adult Swim / Abso Lutely Productions

In the first episode, Eric's plans for an Easter egg hunt are ruined by an intrusive house guest, Tim's army buddy Brad (Michael Bowen). But there's no plot description that can convey the queasy interplay between worn-out sitcom scenarios and Tim and Eric's penchant for gaping but fatuous pathos and sweet-spirited cruelty. In another episode, "Prunes," the housemates riff on a formulaic sitcom plotline—conspiring to help Tim impress the sexy next door neighbor—but instead of getting fed lines through an earpiece he's wearing at an Italian restaurant, Tim's got a hose running up into his "bunged-up" butt. With Beef House, Wareheim and Heidecker build on their Bedtime Stories' eerie ability to sustain a sense of the uncanny, by first recreating formulaic TV, then bashing their golem apart against the sharp edges of unreality.

The first season of Beef House is six episodes long, though both Wareheim and Heidecker hope to do more—"hundreds" more, according to Wareheim. While Beef House officially premieres this Sunday, after midnight, at 12:15 a.m. on Adult Swim, the first episode, "Army Buddy Brad," is available now on the Adult Swim website, or for streaming via the Adult Swim app for iOS, Android, Roku, Fire TV and Apple TV.

In advance of the new show's debut, we spoke with Heidecker and Wareheim over the phone about Beef House, recapturing Fuller House vibes and how they got Tim's butt un-bunged in style.

Where does the name "Beef House" come from?

Eric: It's just a really funny name. I think Tim literally texted me one day and said, "I guarantee you I'm going to crack you up with two words"—which is really the motivation for most of our comedy, making each other laugh. Tim, did you say "Beef Camp" at the time?

Tim: I think it started at "Beef Camp" as a plot and then it was all we could really talk about. "Beef this and beef that, Beef House! That's where we live." There was not a lot of debate about that.

Including Check It Out! with Dr. Steve Brule, this will be your fifth show with Adult Swim. How did you first describe Beef House to them?

Tim: I think we began thinking about it as a holiday special. We had made a few of these kinds of sitcoms in the past, including an episode of Awesome Show called "Snow." So we thought it would be fun to do some sort of holiday-oriented special. And as we talked more about it and started writing more scenarios and it just felt like, "If we were going to build a set and put all this work into it, and we had all these stories to tell, well, what if we just did it as a series?" And they were really open to it.

If Bedtime Stories is your Twilight Zone, what is Beef House?

Eric: Fuller House. We used the same cameras they use on Fuller House. We use the same kind of laugh track they get for Fuller House. We want it to be very, very close to the way those shows feel. If you were flipping through, maybe watching at 8 p.m. on a regular network, you'd flip through and if you found us it would almost feel like you're watching another sitcom, and then you start looking at the characters and the ideas...

When you're playing with the sitcom form like this, are you guided by this, I guess, ambient stuff in the culture, or is it really specific things?

Tim: It starts with really basic plot nuggets: What if this happened, what if that happened? I think our job with each other is to push it further and make sure that it doesn't feel like we've seen it a million times and that it's something interesting—something that makes us laugh. One of the first ideas we had was to have a food poisoning on the show, so everyone would be vomiting and stuff. It was this germ of an idea where we could do a classic sitcom, but the scenarios would be closer to a "Tim and Eric" extreme. It's not just the joke that it's a sitcom.

On 'Beef House,' Heidecker and Wareheim both recreate and subvert sitcom standards, like game night. Adult Swim / Abso Lutely Productions

Well, speaking of, a big part of Awesome Show was the editing style and all these post-production effects, but you guys have also always done really wild practical effects, too. Could you tell me a little bit about Tim's bunged-up s**t hose in the second episode, "Prunes," and spraying down your sitcom set with backed-up poop?

Eric: If you know anything about our work you know that that kind of experience has to happen in almost every show we do. We wanted to ramp it up for Beef House—make it the top "brown" we've ever done. So we actually went through two effects people. The first guys could not handle the quality we wanted, so we had to get a new team. And they had these huge pumps. It was many, many, many hours of researching and looking at the consistency and test sprays in the parking lot. It was kind of amazing. I think, because of all that hard work, we got something that looked really good and viscous. It was our last shot, so it was exciting to get to that point, to destroy the set, when we were done that season.

What is the division of duties between you two on set?

Tim: We've always had a very collaborative back-and-forth, co-directing style. We have great producers and crew we've worked with a lot, who know what we want. Since we're on camera a lot, there's a lot of communicating through them and then we're watching stuff in playback. If Eric's on camera, I'm trying to be more responsible about getting what we want and vice versa. We've been doing it for 15 years. It's always a little easier when we're not on camera, but we're not trying to make something that looks like Christopher Nolan or something. It's a three-camera sitcom. We designed it that way so we could work quickly, we could improvise, we could rewrite things on the fly, and we're shooting in a way where we are not shooting a thousand takes or anything.

Beef House also has this Awesome Show all-stars cast, bringing back Ron Austar, Tennessee Luke and Ben Hur. Can you describe this cast, for people who aren't familiar with them?

Eric: Ever since the beginning, Tim and I have cast all kinds of eccentric people we feel comfortable being in our family. They're just very funny and interesting kinds of guys. Every sitcom is filled with Hollywood-style actors that get pretty boring, in our opinion. And then you mix in some more seasoned actors, like Michael Bowen (Breaking Bad, Lost) and Jamie-Lynn Sigler and it creates this really cool, funny dynamic within the house, when you're working with different kinds of actors. On set it's really funny as well. We've just always loved that kind of dynamic.

A lot of famous comedy people popped up on Awesome Show, but Jamie-Lynn Sigler is such a curveball. How did she end up on Beef House?

Tim: She was just on a list of dream candidates for the wife and we really—since Bedtime Stories, and on Awesome Show, too—we love pulling people out of the genre they're known for. We just love good actors when that's what's called for, and good personalities. We were huge fans of Sopranos and just didn't think she would do it. But I guess she likes our stuff and was up for the experience. I think there's also something about doing a sitcom that's potentially fun and interesting for actors, because it's kind of like doing theater and it can be done fairly easily. The hours are good. It can be done in a pretty fun way.

While Awesome Show bounced all over the place, one recurring theme was father-son relationships. Does Beef House reflect a different understanding of family?

Tim: I don't know if it's changed too much, but that's one fun thing about doing this show: It's not a sketch show, it's a narrative, with the same characters every week. We found, just by making it that, we would think, "Oh, well you know what, this character and that character like each other in different ways than these other two characters." It's more interesting to build relationships when you're seeing people over multiple episodes.

We went into making Beef House very experimentally. We were not sure what about this was going to work and what was not. I think one of the surprises was that, as silly and over the top and grotesque as it is sometimes, you end up liking these characters. Ron Austar, he blew us away. He surprised us by having this great energy and you can see how he has this relationship with Tim that's different than the relationship he has with Eric. That, I think, if we get to make more, is something exciting and fun.

Eric: We changed the father-and-son thing we always do into husband and wife, with the relationship between me and Jamie-Lynn Sigler is very awkward and it's something that growing up, whenever you see parents who don't really love each other anymore, it's really, really sad and we love playing with that idea, too.

What else can we expect this season?

Eric: Well, we have an episode where there's a new Beef Boy that comes to live with us and there's another episode where there's a very bad accident and a lot of people die and the Beef Boys have to deal with that kind of horror. There's an episode where Tim has a little bit of a drug problem. There's a lot coming up; we tackle a lot of social issues.

Tim: I just got a text as we were on the phone right now, it came in from Nathan Fielder and he said, "I love Beef House," so I'm giving you permission to run with that scoop.

Eric: That's huge.