'Decker: Unclassified' is '24' for the Age of Trump

The comedian has strong opinions on the presidential candidate who shaped his spy show.

Adult Swim

Over the course of several seasons, Tim Heidecker’s ‘90s spy-action parody, Decker, has combined the low-budget action of the VHS era with his absurd comedy MO. The newest season of his spy series Decker: Unclassified is ready to premiere in a couple weeks and Inverse sat down with the comedian as well as Decker director, Eric Notaricola, to figure out just how much of our current politics influenced the new season.

Let’s just dive straight into it. Do you think Decker will be a spy icon in Trump’s America?

Tim Heidecker: Well, look at this [Tim picks up a miniature American flag]. What does this mean anymore? It’s hard to say. I think [Decker] is an acknowledgement of the stupidity of the Trump presidency. It’s comforting to know [the audience] sees it that way.

How do you think Decker would function under a Trump presidency?

I think he’d be like, the Secretary of Defense, Secretary of State, Secretary of War.

Jack Decker

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Y’know, Decker won’t be the only American spy on TV now that there’s a new 24 season.

TH: Oh, is there?

How do you think Decker would get along with Jack Bauer?

TH: Oh, they’d probably get along fine. Both with the American Dream in the heart of their spirit.

What were some of your goals moving forward into the new season?

TH: Well we kind of designed it so that people who may not have seen [Decker] before can watch it. It might encourage people to go backwards a little bit, some older episodes, see where the jokes are coming from. We just want to make everyone laugh and smile. We want to get that laugh inside of you that makes you, y’know, giddy.

Last season was kind of a genre throwback with Decker vs. Dracula. What kind of new genres will you be mining to parody this season?

We’d like to get into the whole intrigue behind election rigging, some of that global warming, tort reform, and medical malpractice. And entitlements!

Eric, what were some of the challenges of directing a show like Decker: Unclassified?

Eric Notarnicola: As far [as] directing-wise, I think stylistically, Decker: Unclassified is a lot of outsider cinema, a lot of amateur cinema, things that I’m interested in. And the visual effects come from my own early visual effect attempts. And it’s sort of just the idea of [directing] something yourself and the way things end up looking directing that way.

Was it hard to find the balance of making something look just amateur enough while still looking great?

EN: I think the trick is to just try, but not actually do any further revisions. Like do one pass at everything.

TH: Love the one you’re with!

So explain the backstory of “Eric Latonecola, Director” in the Decker universe.

TH: Mind if I take this one?

EN: Oh yeah, go ahead.

TH: [Eric’s] been with us since the beginning, he’s been the de-facto director. But in the world of un-cinema, it makes more sense to project that Im directing. In reality it’s a collaborative process. We’re all working together on a project that all are on the same page on.

The new season is definitely bigger than the first season of Decker. How did the scaling-up of the project affect the lo-fi, creative process?

TH: We got to do more things, we got spend a little more time than we normally would. Usually on past seasons of Decker we’re like cramming to the point that it’s basically a full-time job for a few weeks.

So based on some of the political parallels in Decker: Unclassified, how did some of the real-world stuff feed into the development of this season?

TH: We take from the headlines a bit. I listen to a lot of AM, Right-Wing radio to pick up a lot of buzzwords they talk about. You know, “global warming is a hoax” is a belief system that exists out there. Some of that, some current events, tried and true story ideas that are always going to work.

Make America Great Again

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Earlier tonight, on stage you did a pretty spot-on impression of Donald Trump. Did you work on that?

TH: I am obsessed with [Trump]. I watch him every chance I get. I’m horrified/obsessed. He’s a fascinating guy — fascinating and insane. And like captivating, and you can’t believe it’s happening, can’t believe that it’s real. It’s like we’re watching a — I don’t want to compare him to Hitler y’know? But like this momentous, historic shit we’re watching, and were watching it in real-time. Live! Its going to be in the history books about how crazy this is.

EN: It’s like watching someone get pick-pocketed.

TH: Yeah [laughs] its like watching a crime in real-time. Just slow, slow-motion. And I can’t stop watching it because you know it’s gonna deliver. When you watch a speech from [Trump], it delivers. I’m not saying I like it — I’m just saying it’s fascinating. Its funny, really, deeply funny.

When you were developing Decker: Unclassified and seeing the headlines, I’m sure all of it wasn’t as real then as it is now. How do you feel that affects the new season of Decker, in retrospect?

TH: The only concern we had was that [Trump] would flame out early, and that whatever we’re gonna be doing is going to feel like, ‘Oh the storm clouds have parted. Things are better now! This feels like old news!’ But that’s not seeming to be a problem. It’s still as silly as ever.

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.