Have Some (Neil) Hamburger

 

As the comedian preps
for his upcoming U.S. tour – he’s in Dublin tonight – we take stock of his hot
new live album, Hot February Night.

 

By Jonah Flicker

 

The crowds that bring out the best in Neil Hamburger are the
most antagonistic ones. Undoubtedly the central basis of his shtick, Hamburger
thrives on heckling, insults and threats of violence. Such reactions are
inevitable when he’s opening for a comedy band like Tenacious D, hurling
borderline offensive and deceptively simplistic jokes at large theaters packed
with many who have most likely never heard of him before. Such is the case on
his hilarious new live comedy album, Hot February Night, issued by Drag
City.

 

Hamburger takes the stage hacking and coughing up phlegm
that seems to be unearthed from the depths of his lower intestine, pausing now
and then to hurl out a sardonic one-liner, often dealing with Paris Hilton,
James Brown, or, strangely, Gerald Ford. In between, he emits a high-pitched
moan, especially when the audience is either silent or hateful – which is the
case more often than not. But that’s why this is hilarious. Of course, you kind
of have to be in on the joke to get it. It’s not clear whether one who has
never heard of Hamburger and is not familiar with his persona would find it as
funny.

 

Chants of “You suck” from the crowd? Hamburger points out
that he’s actually sucking the money right out of the audience’s wallets, and
that they have fecal breath. Sounds silly, but his delivery kills it. “What is
the difference between Britney Spears’ vagina and the decaying corpse of Gerald
Ford? In the interest of public decency, the corpse is not being openly
displayed.” [crowd groaning, Hamburger moaning, “Well, thaaaat’s my life.”] He
taunts the crowd, acting like he’s about to introduce the main act, but instead
bringing out Tenacious D’s… crew! Or Tenacious D’s…. curtain!

 

Again, it’s all in the delivery. This sad sack schlump of a
comedian knows exactly what he’s doing and he’s pressing all the right buttons.
For Hamburger’s gimmicks, this is actually some seriously smart comedy.

 

[Photo Credit: Simone Turkington]

 

 

 

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