Democracy In Action

For those already familiar with the work of Philadelphia natives Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim—Timanderic for short—Tom Goes to the Mayor, their new show debuting on the Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim this week, will just be another hilarious addition to their quirky, sometimes bizarre catalog.

For those not so familiar with the duo, Tom Goes to the Mayor will be a new experience in the art of oddball comedy. “Tim and I love really dry, awkward moments,” said Wareheim on the phone from L.A., “and we were looking for a way to visualize those moments.”

Tom Goes to the Mayor revolves around two central characters, Tom Peters (right) and the Mayor (left), voiced by Heidecker and Wareheim respectively: Tom, a new resident to the town of Jefferton, brings his ideas for town improvements to the mayor, who twists them to his own vision.

“It’s political only in that we talk about how people live in America,” explained Heidecker. “It has a lot to do with small-town politics. Dealing with bureaucracy and the struggles that a normal guy makes to get ahead.” Its unfinished look is created with pictures of real people that have been put through a computer filter to make them look photocopied. The pictures used for the show’s eccentric characters are custom-tailored to each line of dialogue. Wareheim explained that they are not just simple characters with only one pose. “For our show, every single show, there are hundreds and hundreds of new shots, expressions, outfits, etc.”

The minimalism of the show’s animation fits well with the other cartoons on Adult Swim, the Cartoon Network’s late-night lineup geared toward an older crowd. Heidecker said, “There are no rules at Adult Swim, which is why it’s so amazing being there.” The simplistic form of the show is the result of modest resources. “It started out as not having the time or money to do anything real,” said Wareheim. “We literally had to figure out ways to make what we wanted in our apartment.”

“It’s more about the writing,” explains Heidecker. “We don’t care whether or not it looks good.”

The show’s executive producer is Bob Odenkirk of the popular Mr. Show with Bob and David. So Tom features a host of celebrities, including Jack Black and Kyle Gass of Tenacious D, Michael Ian Black, David Cross and Jeff Goldblum, to name a few. Hard at work since August, Timanderic seem satisfied with their final results. “[The cartoon] moves really nicely,” said Heidecker. “Simple things, but it keeps you engaged through the whole thing.” Wareheim added, “Everything that we love, every ounce of us is in this show.” And he means that literally: The characters just happen to look like their creators.

    • Josh Kruger is an award-winning writer and editor-in-chief of Philadelphia Weekly. His past work includes years as a journalist with Philadelphia Weekly, his PW column “The Uncomfortable Whole” winning multiple awards, including the Society of Professional Journalists’ First Place award for newspaper commentary in both 2014 and 2015. Josh has written for a variety of local and national publications, and his work often includes his perspective as someone with lived experience with HIV, homelessness, poverty, trauma, and addiction along with expert analysis from years of experience in journalism and public service following a five year stint in local government communications. He is a member of Philly’s local LGBTQ community, a parishioner at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, a militant bicyclist, and resident of the Point Breeze section of the city with his cat, a senior tom named Mason.

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