Spaceland, March 30
Walking on stage cradling three drinks in his arms, Neil Hamburger makes his first impression on the audience by spilling them slowly onto his own tuxedo while setting up his notes on the monitors in front of him. Much of the booze in his glasses ends up soaked into his jacket and shoes over the next 45 minutes, while Hamburger unleashes his tirades against celebrities, alternative musicians, the audience, and Jesus Christ.
"WHY?!" he screams at the start of a joke, "Did Robert Redford stick his penis into a jar of Paul Newman's spaghetti sauce?" The punchlines are often less important than the set-ups. It's the question that gets the most laughs. After several months of semi-regular Sunday shows at Spaceland, the audience is familar with Hamburger's M.O.: Offensive jokes, told in a seemingly bad delivery (his timing is actually excellent), mixed with audience abuse and self-directed bitterness about life.
"Why did Academy Award nominated actor Heath Ledger call Mary-Kate Olsen as he was dying?" The mention of Ledger's name was one of the few things that the audience seemed to recoil from. A collective soft spot for Ledger was clearly present. "It's ok," Hamburger consoled them, "Heath Ledger is in hell now. Nothing we do can hurt him."
One of the reasons for tonight's show is his upcoming debut of his singing debut, Neil Hamburger Sings Country Winners, from which he sang a couple of tracks over recorded music tonight, including the funny "Three Piece Chicken Dinner." I wish he had also sung "Please Ask That Clown To Stop Crying" based solely on the title.
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If Will Oldham can decide to become a stand-up comic, there's no reason Hamburger shouldn't give crooning a try, though it's still his jokes that rule.
"What do you call the little creatures that live in the piles of filthy potato chips bags and used G-strings behind Britney Spears' house? ... Her children!"
Opening for Hamburger tonight was The Incredible Blasco who made predictions a la Criswell about "Our amazing future," which will largely consist of Blasco getting orgies for his birthday and not getting in trouble for harassing co-workers at Staples. Before Blasco, was the comedy-juggling duo the Juggolos. Matthew managed to read from the Da Vinci Code while juggling, and his partner Dan jumped over the top of him taking over all of the objects in mid-air, which was actually quite impressive.