PHILADELPHIA - Before Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim were famous for being funny, they were Temple University film geeks, watching David Lynch movies and David Byrne videos.
"At that point in our lives, the idea of comedy was not something that seemed possible; in fact, it wasn't even a cool thing to think about. We were in bands, or doing film installations. It wasn't like we were ever part of a sketch group," said Heidecker, whose decidedly weird first comedy, "Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie" opens Friday.
Heidecker, an Allentown, Pa., native, met Wareheim (from Audubon, Pa.) when they were assigned to the same Temple dormitory.
"There were a bunch of basketball players on our floor and a lot of film guys, and we all sort of bonded," Wareheim recalls. "We started bands together, made little videos, shared a similar sense of humor, and all throughout film school created a bunch of work that looks a little bit like our TV show now."
That TV show can be found on Cartoon Network's "Adult Swim," where the duo's "Tim and Eric Awesome Show! Great Job!" has a home.
Getting there wasn't easy.
"After college Tim went to New York to try acting. I stayed in Philly as a wedding and bar mitzvah photographer. Using the equipment that I bought, Tim would come down on weekends, and we'd film stuff and edit stuff together," Eric said.
And complain about how hard it was to get into the movie industry. "We were both pretty disillusioned by the film system, and both wanted to be directors right out of the gate," Heidecker said.
Adds Wareheim: "We both interned in L.A. as lower-rung interns and saw how long the path is to climb. It's scary, coming out of college. So we both came back East and said, (bleep), we've got to figure out some other way."
They put a bunch of their weird little movies together and sent them all over Hollywood. They got one call back. "Tim sent out a DVD to 'Adult Swim,' and they were the only guys who responded, and even those guys said, 'what the (bleep) is this?'"
Heidecker and Wareheim also created the popular "Tom Goes to the Mayor" animated series for Cartoon Network, and later the "Awesome Show." They're sought-after directors of TV commercials (Old Spice, Absolute Vodka), and they found an outlet for their unique style on the Adam McKay website FunnyOr Die. com.
They also made friends with FunnyOrDie regulars Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly and Zach Galifianakis, frequent collaborators who appear in the "Billion Dollar Movie." Wareheim and Heidecker play goofball versions of themselves, failed filmmakers who run a crummy mall. The movie is completely absurd, violent, and always in bad taste. Both describe it as innately Pennsylvanian.
"I grew up in a small town where Sizzler was a big birthday dinner, being impressed by (crappy) things. We like to poke fun at that," Wareheim said.
Heidecker said they stay true to their roots. "We're grumpy, unhealthy people."