Neil Hamburger

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Joined: 25 Apr 2006

PostPosted: Mon Jan 22, 2007 10:50 am    Post subject: Neil Hamburger Reply with quote

Dead meat
With his miserable excuse for a show, Neil Hamburger is so unfunny that he's funny. David Whitehouse relished his performances so much, he invited him to stay on his sofa. What could possibly go wrong?
Saturday January 20, 2007
The Guardian

As the lights dim at the Hammersmith Apollo, 5,000 excited Tenacious D fans pump their devil-shaped hand signs into the air. This is because they think they're about to see Jack Black and Kyle Gass's famous rock pantomime, just like it says on the tickets they paid for. Instead, Neil Hamburger slowly shuffles onto the stage like an arthritic Columbo. He's wearing a soiled tuxedo, his hair is plastered across his forehead with slobber and he's spilling the three vodka and tonics under his arm all over his trousers. The crowd fall silent as he approaches the microphone, where he spends two minutes audibly clearing phlegm from his throat. They begin to boo and hiss like a confused cauldron of hormonal soup.

Half an hour later the same 5,000 people are chanting "WANKER! WANKER! WANKER!", throwing coins at Neil's head and threatening to storm the stage (at a Tenacious D gig!). Yes, tonight will definitely be ending in a fight. Neil Hamburger (the alter-ego of Gregg Turkington) is the bravest comedian in the world, but as much as I'm starting to suspect he may have balls the size of prize fighting fists, I'm starting to wonder whether it was a good idea to invite him to stay at my house. In fact, I'm starting to wonder whether he'll make it to my house at all.

I first heard of Neil Hamburger three years ago. A friend told me of an American stand-up comedian who made his living by dying, a bumbling, angry drunk who loathes his audience almost as much as he pities himself. Intrigued, I watched what clips I could find on the internet and picked up a few of his CDs.

In an age when comedians are meant to be full of insight and observation, not to mention funny, Hamburger was the complete opposite. He had the comic timing of a birthday heart attack and his attempts at audience participation were so misguided they nearly always ended in violence. He looked like a pervert's pervert, and dealt solely in outdated references, rubbish punnery and twisted Christmas cracker jokes like: "What do you get if you cross Elton John with a sabre toothed tiger ... I don't know, but you'd better keep it away from your ass".

Whether you liked his jokes or not wasn't the point. What was funny was the reaction he got, how he dealt with it and how far he could take it before he got lynched. It's anti-humour, approached in a kamikaze style. He'd be the worst comedian in existence if he wasn't in on the joke. But he is, meaning that he may well be the best. So I sent him an email saying, should he ever play in the UK, I'd love to see the show, and if need be, given the largely crap lot of the travelling comedian, he could sleep on my sofa.

Remember the documentary that followed Pete Burns as he was released from prison after serving time for assaulting his boyfriend? As part of his bail conditions prevented him from living within the M25, Pete moved into the Plymouth house of a fan he'd never met. Their relationship ended when Pete, a mannequin as made by Aardman, stormed out into the night. That's what I think about as I open the door three years later to hear the words "Hello. My name is Neil Hamburger". He has with him a bottle of vodka, the sole item on his tour rider. He shuffles in and I pour him a drink.

Now Neil Hamburger is, of course, a character. He can be switched on or off, the disguise, unlike that of Pete Burns, removed or applied. However, when your job is to make yourself as hated as possible, it's hard not to take a little of your work home with you. From the pocket of his coat he produces handfuls of coins, mostly coppers.

"These," he explains, "are what the people of Britain have thrown at me so far". He's been averaging £20 a night (which in shrapnel isn't bad going).

It seems Tenacious D's tour of the UK hasn't been kind to Neil Hamburger. The people of Birmingham in particular took a big disliking to him when he stood on stage in front of 12,000 paying punters at the NEC and sobbed a "Why did the chicken cross the road" routine about the death of Princess Diana (whom he once paid tribute to by releasing a seven inch record in her honour which came with a free tissue and a blank B side perfect for a moment's silence). In fact, the same had happened in Brighton, where he'd pondered why Britney Spears sells so many albums ("because the public", ie the audience, "are so horny and depressed"). And Manchester, where he followed it by suggesting (to an audience of teenage rock fans, let's not forget) that the difference between Courtney Love and the American flag was that it wasn't acceptable to urinate on the American flag. "I didn't even get this much money thrown at me at Madison Square Garden," he sighs.

Yes, the man on my sofa, a comedian who makes Andy Kaufman's famously inept Tony Clifton character look like Peter Kay playing a children's party, has played a sold-out Madison Square Garden. He's also appeared on America's Jimmy Kimmel show (which is like GG Allin turning up on Jonathan Ross), and opened for some of America's biggest rock bands. He counts among his devoted celebrity fanbase Danny DeVito, Tim Robbins and Tom Green, with whom he makes his own internet TV show, the brilliant Poolside Chats With Neil Hamburger which is well worth an hour on YouTube. Last year the first ever NeilCon was held in Alabama. If he'd have achieved the things he has telling normal jokes he'd be the most famous comedian on Earth.

Eager to see him at work we head to his gig at Hammersmith in the early evening but, by the time we arrive, there is already an enormous queue of teenagers in Tenacious D T-shirts who Neil predicts "won't like me one bit". I wish him luck and walk out into the crowd to watch the show with Neil's wife, Simone. Just two minutes into his set and the place rings with booing and the dull thud of coins hitting the curtain behind Neil's head."D! D! D! D!" they scream in the hope that it might speed up the arrival of the band. Neil loses his temper. "Jack Black has given me his personal permission to tell another four jokes every time you shout 'D!', you pointless cocksuckers," he rants. The crowd go silent. As much as they hate him, he has them under more control than most comedians could ever muster.

Eventually he runs out of time and with the words "Goodnight cocksuckers," Neil signs off. Exiting the stage he stops only to pick up the coins being lobbed in his direction when suddenly one hits him square in the face. It looks painful. I turn to Simone for her thoughts just in time to see her march over to Neil's assailant and punch him twice in the ear. He has the shocked, shamed look of a boy whose mum has caught him making love to himself. Being punched by the artist's wife isn't something you expect to happen when you throw a coin at a gig, but then if you throw a coin at anyone then you probably deserve to be punched in the ear.

We decide to wait until late to avoid Neil (or his wife) getting lynched in the car park, which gives him time to tell Jack Black how his wife punched a Tenacious D fan, before we take the evening's bottle of vodka home with us. It wasn't the fight we expected the night to end in, but that's probably a good thing.

When I wake next morning, Neil Hamburger has gone. In his place is a pile of change.

· To buy Neil Hamburger's recordings visit


I've posted a few things about this guy before, but they seem to have got lost... if you ever get the chance to hear him, then take it - you will be annoyed gratly!
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 10, 2007 8:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Neil Hamburger: He's greasy, drunk, wears big glasses and bad suits and has no comic timing. He's not for everyone, but he's a cult hero to his fans.
Reyhan Harmanci

Neil Hamburger takes a rather dark view of the world, but who could blame him? His car broke down on Valentine's Day. And that's the least of his problems. "Legal problems, health problems, family problems, financial problems, emotional problems, and then, of course, the world is decaying and crumbling," Hamburger says. But, specifically, he had car trouble.

"The whole engine dropped out; it was a Valentine from the auto mechanic who checked it six months ago," huffed Hamburger, speaking from Los Angeles in his booming tone reminiscent of a television announcer from the '50s. He was a little sketchy about the details of his mechanical troubles. "I don't actually know the make of the car; you know, these kids, these hip-hop urban kids, steal the name of the car -- the hood ornament -- and wear it as necklaces; it's the cool thing to do."

Was he worried that perhaps he's dealing with a stolen car? "Well, when we bought it, the price we paid was pretty low," Hamburger mumbles, coughing a little. "And it didn't have a vehicle identification number. Those kids -- it's a trend; they like to wear the vehicle identification number around their necks."

Hamburger is what some call a "cult hero," meaning that his biggest fans don't just buy his albums -- they preach about him, post on his online bulletin boards (ostensibly organized by a very dedicated fan with bad spelling named Boni Jergen) and organized a convention last year called Neil Con to celebrate him. It seems that his whole package, which can be summed up as failure, has struck a chord.

But he's not for everyone. He's greasy, he's drunk, he wears big glasses and bad suits, and tells bad jokes. His humor isn't obscene (most of the time), just bad. He has no comic timing and makes very little attempt to ingratiate himself with audiences. Hamburger is a relentless tourer -- he claimed to have played 399 gigs last year -- and it's entirely believable when he says that people walk out on him more frequently than not.

Like Tony Clifton, Andy Kaufman's sleazy alter ego, Hamburger is a creation of another artist. But comparisons to other fabulists -- James Frey, JT LeRoy -- were greeted with genuine derision. "There's a lot of garbage talk out there. I can't understand why people can't accept the show for what it is," Hamburger says. "I mean, some people think that it was Lee Harvey Oswald who shot the man in Texas, not Dick Cheney. What's next?" .

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 14, 2008 1:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Neil Hamburger appearing at Picador
Jarrett Hothan
The Daily Iowan

For any impressionable young class clowns looking to get into the standup-comedy business, "America's Funnyman" Neil Hamburger has some words of advice. "It is a nightmare industry," he said. "You would have a lot more success getting into the mining industry, for instance, the salt-mining industry, or for any other mineral."

Hamburger has been touring relentlessly on the comedy circuit for more than a decade now, bringing his trademark brand of showmanship even to such network programs as "Jimmy Kimmel Live." He will appear today at 9 p.m. at the Picador, 330 E. Washington St., in a rare comedy performance at the venue. His brand of comedy is somewhat of a throwback, akin to the brash but traditional styling of Andy Kaufman's impetuous alter-ego Tony Clifton. Perpetually dressed in a suit with a comb over glimmering with a handful of pomade, Hamburger's show harks back to the days when comedians shot jokes like machine-gun bullets.

"Comedians these days, I don't think they're funny," Hamburger lamented. "They just come on stage wearing a dirty T-shirt stained with lasagna from last night. Then they talk about what happened to them today, and then 10 to 15 minutes later, there is the punch line. I believe if you paid the money to get in, you should give them a laugh every few minutes."

Hamburger's delightfully off-pace routine, often interrupted with bouts of repulsive throat clearing (he claims his voice has aged prematurely), takes aim at vulnerable pop-culture figures such as Elton John, Paris Hilton, and Michael Jackson. His crude delivery has gained fans in the punk-rock community, causing many bands to invite the comedian to open for them on tours and have him make vocal appearances on their records. This phenomenon is confusing to him.

"For some reason, these people associate themselves with me," he said. "Have you ever listened to their music? It sounds like someone crapping into a bowl - and those are the good songs."

Hamburger is no stranger to the world of music; he recently recorded his own country-western album, Sings Country Winners. The country twang is a perfect background for such songs as "Jug Town," where he fondly weaves a tale of a father's raging alcoholism. "It's something you want to have success with in life," he said. "David Hasselhoff has several albums to his name. A lot of these guys are not Sinatra, but then again, nobody is buying these comedy records."

On stage, Hamburger is rarely seen without at least four or five drinks in his grasp. For fans looking to buy him a drink after the show, his favorite is a rare recipe. "Fifty percent ice cubes, a couple shots of vodka, and then bleach to clean out the parasites," Hamburger said. "I know it's not very healthy. I don't want to recommend it to your reading audience."
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 2:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What’s so funny? Neil Hamburger finds laughs in the strangest places
July 26, 2012

There’s nothing hip about Neil Hamburger. Onstage the comedian typically dresses in a dated tuxedo that wouldn’t look out of place at a 1970s high school prom, and he sports an oily comb-over that stays glued to his head with nervous sweat. Between bits he loudly and repeatedly clears his throat, making a thick, phlegmy sound that suggests he’s desperately in need of sinus medication. Even Hamburger’s jokes — if you want to call them that — aren’t particularly witty or well-constructed. “Why does KFC come in a bucket?” goes one bit. “So you have something to throw up into afterwards.”

Oh, he’s also not a real person. Hamburger, who has steadily evolved into a cult-like figure in comedy circles, is actually a character invented and portrayed by musician/comedian Gregg Turkington, designed to challenge, bait and confound audiences much the way lounge-singing Andy Kaufman creation Tony Clifton did in the late ’70s.

I’d say half the press material I’ve come across refers to you in some form or another as “the comedian you’ll love to hate.” Are you comfortable with that reputation?
Well, it sounds like half the articles you’re reading are garbage, because that’s a real slap in the face. For me to take time out of my day to talk to these people, and they usually, like yourself, seem like nice people. Then the article comes out and it says things like that, which are clearly insulting and derogatory and do nothing to further my career, and, in fact, do everything to put a black cloud over whatever day I happen to come across this article. Then that leads to depression … and I’m not going to say the pillowcase gets stained with tears, but it’s not a good situation.

It’s sometimes said depression leads to great comedy, so couldn’t that actually be helpful?
Well, I mean, that’s what some of these depressed druggies like to say to excuse what they do and say, but the root of all comedy should be a sincere desire to entertain folks for a few minutes and help them forget their horrible lives. These people pay good money … so they can laugh and clap and really forget their troubles, and that’s what every comedian should be trying to do.

What would you say to those people who have a visceral negative reaction to your style of comedy?
Well, I would say this type of comedy is not for everyone. Everyone has a particular taste. Now, some of my fans might go see Carrot Top and they might storm out of his show. But it’s not going to hurt Carrot Top any because he’s making millions of dollars a year. It is going to hurt me when people storm out of my show.

Do you get any sense of satisfaction making someone walk out of one of your shows?
Only if they’re leaving the room to go to a phone and tell their friends, “Hey, hurry up! There’s still 20 minutes left in the show. You’ve got to get here and see this guy!”

Some critics refer to your style as anti-comedy. What does that term mean to you?
I would refer to their style of criticism as anti-common sense. We’re getting out there on the stage in Madison or any number of cities, and for these people to say something like that is truly appalling because I’ll tell you what, the laughs are real. When people come to the show and laugh their heads off, that’s real. There’s nothing anti about it.

Hearing you talk about the miseries of being on tour in your act, I sometimes wonder what keeps you on the road.
Well, you know, there are certain things in life we have no choice about. For instance, foot fungus is something I think most people are afflicted with, and if we chose not to have it we wouldn’t have it. Another thing is a massive heart attack that could kill you. Another one of these things is you have to pay off the attorneys, the ex-wife, and I’m not going to call them criminals, but there are folks who unfortunately I’m in a great amount of debt to, and these folks like to get their money. Seeing as I have no abilities to earn a living as a chef or a surgeon or something like that, all I can really do is get on the road and tell these jokes and watch my pay get garnished by these people.
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