Which brings us to Neil Hamburger, the most depressing comedian ever to walk God's Fine America. I mean, an awful comedian. The kind of comedian who says things like, "I have to warn you; my doctor just told me that I've come down with a serious case of 'funnyguy-itis'...." The kind of comedian raised to believe that Bob Hope's annual Easter Specials are era-defining moments of comedic brilliance. In short, Neil Hamburger is the only comedian alive who is so bad, he is utterly brilliant.
Great Phone Calls - Amarillo 1992.
- "I'm In Your Band," in which he responds to a "bassist wanted" ad by picking a fight with the bandleader and repeatedly asking, "Ever heard of The Krinkles?"
- "Hijinx" and "Hijinx And A Child," in which a Paramount Pictures computer offers free tickets to an exciting new Bette Midler film
- About five thousand calls to pizza parlors
Most are funny for their own reasons (to remain unaddressed here), but the two that concern us are "Cancel It!" and "Write My Name On The Toilet," a pair of calls to comedy clubs by a hapless young stand-up comedian named Neil Hamburger. This comic seems to have no idea what constitutes a 'joke' ("Hey, have you ever had 'Coca-Cola Original Classic'? Well, they just changed the formula one more time! Now it's just 'Classic'!"), and spends most of his time begging the club owner not to hang up on him. Interestingly, this comic doesn't sound at all like the Neil Hamburger we've all grown to know and love. Top comic Brian Posehn argues that this is because some other person stole the name "Neil Hamburger" after hearing it on this record, and went on to fame and fortune on Gregg Turkington's dime. Could Posehn be right!?
Faith No More fans will enjoy hearing Mr. Bungle singer Mike Patton performing a disgusting yet charming prank call entitled "Music Of The Night" at the end of this record. All others will enjoy hearing Gregg Turkington being a bunch of assholes.
Telephuck You! 7" (with Gregg Turkington) - Stomach Ache 1992.
Seven funny voices, characters and scenarios await you, including:
- a gruff-voiced man telling his heart-warming story of getting shot, finding Jesus and dancing on a windowsill
- an Indian woman looking to hire nude female models who have "nipples and breasts"
- the owner of M.H.C. ("My Horsemeat Company") getting angrier and angrier about the flies laying eggs on his business pamphlets
- a lonely, unloved woman begging the caller not to take her TV away
- a gross sex line featuring such steamy dialogue as (spoken by a male) "Oh, what a fuckin' handjob, baby!"
- a man who hates all of his friends and goes into detail WHY as the caller waits and waits for the beep to show up
- the president of the Pablo Cruise Fan Club, a poor soul who sounds uncannily like Black Flag guitarist Greg Ginn and interrupts his Pablo Cruise news update with the observation, "I'm pretty depressed and masturbating a lot."
But that's Gregg Turkington for ya! Always telling jokes! Apparently somebody in Caroliner started spreading his ORIGINAL tape (the one pooh-poohed by the band leader) around, and several people over the years have asked Gregg why he didn't release those instead because they were funnier. Myself, I've never heard them. If you have them, can you send me a copy?
But christ, the LAST reason we're here is to talk about Gregg Turkington. The more exciting side of this single is the B side, comprised of two uproarious calls featuring nationally-known comedian Neil Hamburger, in which he (call #1) tells a female club booker, "I'm a male stripper. I STRIP humor out of the air and present it to a MALE and female audience!" and (b) tells the longest, most pointless 7-11 joke in history, somehow keeping a gullible club booker on the phone for several minutes before reaching the nearly infuriating let-down of a punchline. And thus, HIStory is made! For this is the very same call that served as fodder for his "7-11s" novelty song Ten Years After!
Luckily, Ipecac Records included this rare single on its CD reissue of Great Phone Calls. One thing's for certain, Mike Patton -- you're one giving prick!
Wait, "prick" isn't the right word. What is it called when you sing for a bunch of different bands at the same time?
Oh wait I remember -- Mike Patton, you're one giving bukkake recipient!
Wait, "sing" and "bands" aren't the right words.
Looking For Laughs 7" - Amarillo 1994.
No, I have to say something. This record is hilarious. Side one is a five-minute nightclub act by Mr. Neeeeeeeeeil HAAAAAMBUUUUURGEEER!!! punctuated by trinkles of fake laughter and classics like "What's the difference between an astronaut and a resident of San Francisco?" (You want the punchline? Buy the record!)
Side two is an "interview" between young British commentator Ryan Kerr (whose name is pronounced suspiciously like the word "wanker," but I'm certain that that detail is merely a coincidence) and Mr. Hamburger, who seems just a wee bit too proud of his new comedy record Looking For Laughs (especially considering it's only five minutes long). God, it's a hoot. You sit there waiting for something funny to happen for about four minutes, then wham-o!!! You'll be chuckling for days, unless you're adverse to childish fun, in which case it's people like you that suck all the fun out of being alive.
Bartender, The Laugh's On Me 7" - Planet Pimp 1995.
I understand that Hamburger's humor would be probably be ruined by candid discussion, but it is still annoying when an artist cannot admit his real influences without breaking character. The snobby elitism inherent in postmodernism is often enough to turn me into an angry pomophobe. On "Bartender...", you certainly enjoy an epiphany when you realize that he is intentionally ruining the most "successful" part of his routine with annoying feedback. But once you have this epiphany, this kind of art doesn't have a lot of replay value. Perhaps it does say something about society as a whole that certain people just do not have the frame of reference with which to "get" this kind of humor. But the insight it provides doesn't justify the delight people take in supposedly escaping the mediocrity of popular culture. This inevitably hollow esoterisism is what Neil Hamburger has in common with indie rock: I have become bored with both. Maybe if my girlfriend can get him to sign her 7" of "Bartender..." it will be worth something when he is dead. When Jim Carrey puts on a cheap tuxedo and glasses, starring as Neil Hamburger in a popular movie, then we can sell our autographed copy on ebay for big bucks.
America's Funnyman - Drag City 1996.
Why? Because even fake comedy can be great comedy if it's done right. And boy ar dee, is this one done right. Once again, every joke is given its own track title (including one joke that is inscrutably given four different titles) and Neil misses and misses and misses again. He is godawful for a full forty minutes this time around, to such a degree that he can only get crowd response by telling them that they're going to be on a record. So awful that he requests a "moment of silence" in honor of George Burns two minutes into the performance. So atrocious that he performs a Rich Little skit with no impressions. If I tried to list every mistake he makes during the course of this performance, I wouldn't get any sleep tonight, which would suck ass because I've got a big day at the work firm tomorrow. So hop onto a new plane of humor! This isn't esoteric. It's just stupid. But dear lordy lordy, is it clever. And I haven't even mentioned the zipper schtick!!! I love Neil Hamburger. It would behoove you to grab onto this shooting star because you can't slow him down!
In short, he sucks. Buy his records!
Two annoying moments though - first, when Neil's trying to get the audience engaged and a member the audience grabs the mic and screams "METALLICA!!!" thoroughly blowing out the earphones on my iPod. Second, when he's reciting the "Top 10" and practically every word is bleeped out FOR TWO MINUTES. Thanks, I get the joke. Ha, ha.
Apart from those two moments, I love this CD so much I'm gonna buy some more.
overall very enjoyable!
Open Ended Interview 7" - Drag City 1997.
First of all, try reading the script and you'll notice that (A) Neil clearly sounds like he's reading off of a piece of paper and not actually answering your question and (B) there is always either way too much space or way too little space in the section where the DJ is supposed to talk, so you either end up with a few seconds of silence before Neil answers or his response butts into the middle of your question. Secondly of all, the record is actually more entertaining WITHOUT the DJ script, so you just get to hear him spout out double-entendre non-sequitors like "My wife, she wanted it to be huge! But I guess it's too small. And, in my case, a little limp. (long pause) Most of them are very hard and very long. (long pause) Not mine." He is, of course, actually discussing three different topics: wallets, tours and marriage, but ha! You understand? Sure! Finally of all, Neil does actually get some great jokes in there but, as usual, they all seem to be by accident, like his locale-neutral assertion that he will be doing a show "tonight and tomorrow night, at the usual place, just off the main strip there, in the center of town."
It may not be the most essential Niels Bamberger record available but considering that it wasn't even intended for public consumption, it's pretty darn fun!
Raw Hamburger - Drag City 1998.
I don't want to ruin any of it for you, because it's just as smart in its stupidness as the others, but I DO want you to buy it, so let me conclude my short review by reciting one little bit for you. Feel free to repeat this to your friends and companions. This exchange is from "Cursing," when he's giving the Andrew Dice Clay bully act a whirl (and this is from memory, so it's not word for word):
Neil: This is the part of the show where I interact with the audience. How about you, sir? Do you live around here?
Audience Member: No, I'm from out of town.
Neil: Oh! Are you here on business or pleasure?
Audience Member: I'm seeing my father. He's dying of lung cancer.
Neil: Oh! PLEASURE then!
Audience: Stunned silence.
If you're laughing as hard right now as you should be, hunt this album down right now! It's terrible-riffic!
My current favourite joke: "Has anyone ever changed dirty diapers? You get shit all over your fucking hands!"
Tribute To Diana, Princess Of Wales 7" - 1998.
Like a pair of tighty-whiteys!
Okay then. Let me just conclude by shouting, "Enjoy the special locked groove!"
Left For Dead In Malaysia - Drag City 1999.
Did I mention that this isn't a comedy album? I mean, yeah, it IS, but not in the way a comedy album -- heck, even a typical Neil Hamburger record -- is. It's more depressing than anything else. But, even on the worst night of his career, he manages to toss out some uproarious riddles like "Why do Pringles employees get laid so often? Because they CAN!" Problem is -- nobody understands him. There isn't a single laugh on the entire CD (well, there IS one, but it has nothing to do with him).
So what's the appeal? It's funny. It's clever, it's uncomfortable and it's funny. As the cliche goes, it's like "watching a car wreck" or, in fact, "Watching Star Trek." It's boring and pathetic, but you just can't turn away.
Well, okay, I can turn away from Star Trek. But not Neil Hamburger!
P.S. I've never seen Neil Hamburger perform, but a friend of mine who tried to book him to perform at his party was unsuccessful.
a comic genius! the patron saint of funny. i'm laughing just thinking about it. ha ha ha ahah i think i just shit my pants...hah hah ahahah hah ha ha...
but my roommate hates when i play his records so i play them just to torture her which makes him even funnier. ha ha ha ha ha ha ha...
50 States 50 Laughs - Tour Exclusive 2000.
Well, I needn't have been. Gregg was kind enough to mail me a copy of the disc (which was apparently rejected by Neil's usual record label and thus relegated to "special concert CD" only) and it is....truly truly awful. Just absolutely miserable. Without the benefit of an audience or alcohol, Neil is reduced to the very essence that most people fear: his jokes. And nothing but his jokes. Luckily, he actually throws out lots of darn-near zingers, often even utilizing strong delivery! However, the man just doesn't have 50 good jokes in him and after a while this 27-minute CD becomes testament to the fact that even a hilariously godawful comedian can get tiresome if he strays so far away from humor that there's no chance of recovery (there's a stretch near the end that you'd swear he made up on the spot - and probably did!).
Don't get me wrong. I love Mr. Hamburger and will gladly buy any piece of crap he releases (which explains why I gave the CD an 8 even though a 7 would be overly generous). But I suspect that what happened here is that Neil needed some quick funds to pay for motels during his Australian tour and threw this together in a week out of desperation. I enjoy it fine, but as your friendly neighborhood record reviewer, I just don't feel comfortable giving it as high a grade as the others. It IS an awful lot of fun and if you've never heard Neil, this is as good an introduction as any to his hideous act. But without a crowd to play off of, Neil just isn't quite as interesting. And his constant stream of throat clearing noises and depressed sighs, though completely pathetic, become downright ANNOYING the more you listen. Kinda like the David Lee Roth's "S" noises on the Diver Down album. But see Neil live when he plays your town!
Inside Neil Hamburger EP - Drag City 2000.
Sample joke to convince you to buy the CD:
"How many Backstreet Boys does it take to screw in a light bulb?"
"They DON'T screw in light bulbs - they're too busy screwing their audience! Hooo!"
Somewhat depressingly, that's one of the best jokes on here.
if not i'll send you some pics. the cartoon even looks like neil! and some of the gags are similar to that from when ive seen him live.
Hamburger Remembers Nixon 7" - I Don't Feel A Thing 2002.
The entire youth culture portion of Phoenix turned out for the show, with their beards and curly hair (and bobbed haircuts for the girls). Also in attendance were famous musicians from such well-known underground bands as Caroliner and The Meat Puppets, famous for their popular underground single "Backwater." And the merchandise table was overflowing with goodness, thanks in no small part to the efforts of Phoenix Greyhound Park entertainment advisor Ryan Stamen, who -- in addition to scoring Neil the awesome, all-expenses paid concert showcase -- gave fans the chance to purchase both a one-of-a-kind color poster of Neil Hamburger and a special limited edition single by "The 'Burg'," as his fans affectionately call him. I don't review posters, so here is that single.
It's an odd single, make no mistakes. You see, there is not a single joke on here. Neil Hamburger simply recites excerpts from six of Nixon's most famous speeches. "What?," you wonder, I'm pretty sure. "Why did you give it an 8 then, you stupid asshole?" Well, allow me the opportunity to speak "to" that point. You see, most of Neil Hamburger's fans are too young to know much about the Nixon era aside from what they may have seen in the documentary Dick starring Dan Hedaya. So, although they (we) know about Watergate, we (they) likely don't know how much of a paranoid, manipulative, creepy, awful man "Pricky Dicky" was. Nearly every speech featured on this single makes this very clear. So clear that you can't help but think to yourself, "How on Earth were Americans so stupid that they fell for this shit?" Answer: They were too busy shooting up heroin and having sex with everybody (in Mao Tse-Tung's "Sexual Revolution") to take any notice. Thank GOD for AIDS!
For without his aids, Nixon likely wouldn't have been able to come up with such bizarre twists as the 1952 "Checkers Speech," in which a stupidass little story about a dog helped deflect attention away from the fact that he had been accepting illegal campaign gifts for quite some time. Nor would he have presented the eerily defensive 1962 Concession Speech (after popular adulterer John R. Kennedy defeated him in the race to be president Of The united states Of america), in which he viciously told his enemies that "You don't have Nixon to kick around anymore." He was wrong though. Not only would he rise to later political heights, but even today you can dig up his coffin and kick his bones around.
After these two instances alone, how on God's Green Pasteurized Milk did this creep manage to become president? And were these voters so ignorant that they BELIEVED him when, in his 1968 Victory Party speech, he claimed that he was going to "bring the American people together?" This was the same guy who wanted all hippies arrested or shot point-blank. He was most likely the most evil president we have ever had, though George W. Bush is doing an excellent job of catching up. ("Can't get fooled again!")
Nothing much happened in the April 1970 Televised Address. Not sure why Neil chose it as a cover tune. But then suddenly it's November 1973, Nixon's henchmen have been caught rifling through confidential Democratic Party files in the Watergate Hotel, and Nixon -- with a straight face -- tells the Florida press (and American people) that "I think people should know if their President is a crook. Well, I am not a crook. I've earned everything I have." As far as I'm concerned, the only thing this son of a bitch ever earned was his forced resignation, presented in grand form by comedian Neil Hamburger on side two of Hamburger Remembers Nixon. If you've ever longed to hear the sound of absolute dementia, give a listen to his August 9, 1974 farewell speech to his staff. His words ramble all over the place, thoughts completely disconnected to each other, before he finally arrives at full self-realization, speaking candidly and introspectively about all of those people he had put on his "Enemies List" (our PRESIDENT had an "Enemies List." FULL OF AMERICAN CITIZENS!!!!!!). "They only win if you hate them," he concludes. "Then you destroy yourself." FIN.
You likely won't laugh at this release, unless you happen to love the sound of Neil's voice, enjoy the daylillies out of patriotic music (playing in background throughout) or "Get Off" (sex) on the idea of Nixon's words being interrupted by frequent throat-clearings. But it's a very important history lesson for minors. As is The Bee Gees' classic "1941 Mining Disaster." This lesson is simple - "Those who don't remember the past are condemned to repeat it." Now go make a sign that says this and put it above your chair.
On that note, how soon can we start the impeachment hirings on "Dubya"?
And by "Dubya," I of course mean Lee "Scratch" Perry, one of the founders of Dub Reggae.
"Laugh Out Lord" - Drag City/Glory Home 2002.
Longtime fans of this popular underground comic will get a major kick out of this release as, unlike most of his others, it actually sounds designed to entertain rather than simply fatigue. The jokes are paced well, so that you never have to sit through too many seemingly non-joke-related observations like "I knew this 'Free Popcorn Night' was gonna bring out the wrong type of crowd" in a row before you get to a timeless cracker like "What do you get when you cross Sir Elton John with a saber-toothed tiger? I don't know, but you'd better keep it away from your ass!" Plus, some of his best audience interactions of all time find their way onto this release, including a woman who observantly shouts, "YOU'RE NOT MAKING ANY SENSE!" and a group of angry post-9/11 patriots who warn "Don't go there!" when Neil tries out some anti-Bush humor. (And those aren't even the best spectator comments -- I just don't want to spoil any of them for you. But listen closely during "He Wasn't One," "Technical Problems" and the title track).
Best of all for long-time fans, Neil pays tribute to two of his classic routines with the ridiculously bad novelty songs "The Zipper Lips" and "Seven Elevens." Written by and featuring ex-Meat Puppets drummer Derrick Bostrom, these tracks are a kind of "thank you" to all the fans who have supported Neil since he released his first 7" nearly a decade ago. Unfortunately, they won't mean a thing to listeners unfamiliar with his act. Why is it funny to do a dance called a Zipper Lips? You'd need prior exposure to his schtick to understand that one of his classic routines is to ask a member of the audience a question, then -- after he/she fails to respond -- accusingly (and completely nonsensically) shout at them, "LOOKS LIKE WE'VE GOT A ZIPPER LIPS IN THE AUDIENCE!" And you'd need exposure even to PRE-Neil Hamburger material to comprehend the "Seven-Elevens" song, as both its lyrics and re-recorded samples are references to a track on Gregg Turkington's Great Phone Calls LP. But, as Neil's catchphrase explains, "Thaaaaaaat's myyyyyyyy liiiiiife!"
If I may interject a bit of insight into the proceedings, all of Neil's previous albums were recorded when his career was in grim shape and he was performing in bland nightclubs in front of uninterested (or non-English speaking) old-style nightclub audiences who just didn't get the appeal of his aged (like a fine cheese) wisdom. However, in the past few years, thanks to his affiliation with Drag City Records, he has become a favorite among a completely unexpected audience - young hipsters! Whether or not Neil understands that they enjoy his poor act for "ironic" reasons, their appreciation has driven him to record what may be the creative peak of his career. The jokes are both applicable to his newly young audience (topics include the Backstreet Boys, aromatherapy and AOL discs) and honestly, no-bars-held FUNNY! Let me close with one more example so you can see why you should buy this even if your friends tell you not to: "Why did God make homosexuality a sin?"
"Well, his boyfriend said it would be more of a turn-on that way!"
You may notice that I am thanked in the liner notes. I know this may SEEM to suggest that this is a biased review written by a friend of the performer, but the truth is that nothing could be further from the truth. After all, I gave Madonna's Music a bad review and we fuck all the time!
Well okay, not each OTHER...
I actually had to chance to see Neil perform a fantastic show just a couple of weeks ago when my wife and I visited Australia. Most people think that “Australia” is nothing more than the second track on Steve Howe’s first solo album, but those who peer a little deeper learn the truth – the truth about Australia. I personally just spent two weeks of my dazzling, tick-infested life in this fine continent/country thingy and thought you might enjoy a little Travelogue about my visit. Rather than taking the time to develop any sort of thematic structure for the piece, I decided to simply provide you with a rough run-down of my day-by-day itinerary. This will free up my evening for dope smoking (with my revolver at a football game), as well as providing you with an unbeatable roadmap to the joys and foibles that can be found in “The Land Down Underwear.”
Day One : My wife and I arrived in Melbourne after 21 hours hovering above the Earth in some sort of Flying Spacecraft. I watched Stuart Little 2 on the Craft and was well rested for a fine young day of record shopping. You see, I came to Australia with two goals in mind: see a kangaroo and buy the two Easybeats albums I was missing. On this day, no Easybeats albums were to be found, but I still bought lots of CDs that nobody with working ears would touch with a ten-foot Polish man (including both “Stevie Wright Sings The Easybeats” and “Eric Burdon Sings The Animals”!). Then our hosts Gregg and Simone took us to the Botanical Gardens, where thousands of bats were hanging from the trees, squeaking and flying around and turning into guys in capes. These were no ordinary bats, though – they were something called “Flying Foxes” (which reminds me – I came up with this awesome idea for a TV show about a bunch of sexy, hot women who serve as airline pilots. I haven’t decided on a name, but I’m leaning towards “Busty Whores In Planes.”). The evening didn’t end there though! After that, we went to an amusement park and rode a delightful roller coaster with big hills that made my dingly feel all tingly.
Day Two : The old Melbourne Gaol is CREEPY! Tiny little cells, stories about murderers being executed after like one week in jail (including Mick Jagger as “Ned Kelly”!) and even the gallows, which I couldn’t get anybody to try out with me. When nighttime rolled around, we attended a comedy performance by our good friend Neil Hamburger, who was kind enough to develop a brand new comedy joke dedicated to me and the wife! It went as follows, and will never be told again so read it here as a WORLD EXCLUSIVE: “I’d like to stop the show for a moment if I may. If that’s OKAY. I want to introduce a couple of friends of mine who are visiting all the way from New York City – Mark and Brenda! Now, Mark and Brenda didn’t come all the way to Melbourne to see the fairy pigeons or the Twelve Apostles or the…. gaol. No, the reason they came down here was to avoid prosecution for the murder of Jam Master Jay!” Has man ever received a greater honor?
Day Three : Gregg dragged us to his favorite tourist attraction in the country – Ned Kelly’s Last Stand. This miserable, pathetic combination of animation and computerized robots has received accolades the world over as “Australia’s Worst Tourist Attraction,” an “astonishingly cruddy animatronic-fest” and “the most overpriced, so-bad-it's-not-even-funny-anymore tourist trap I've ever seen,” and believe me – it lives up to the hype! But not in a boring, forgettable way. If you ever get a chance to visit this Glenrowan attraction, you WON’T forget it. Rotting taxidermy (including a dead dog rigged up to “pee” into a bucket, right next to a pile of fake dogdoo), a spooky evil Halloween narrator (for no reason at ALL – it’s a story about a gang of robbers, for Christ’s sake!), indescribably nonsensical dialogue and scenery that muddy up the Ned Kelly story to the point where you’re pretty sure he’s a 25-foot-tall iron man, and a completely burned-out building that apparently used to be the most exciting part of the show, according to the insane owner, who suddenly and inexplicably broke the third wall between spectator and performer to chit-chat with us right in the middle of the show. Following a rousing eight-minute singalong of “Such Is Life, Ned Kelly (Such Is Life),” the insane, drunken owner told us a couple dozen more complete lies (or self-delusions?) about how he gets 200 schoolchildren visiting every day and how he clears $200,000 a year and how his family left him two decades ago because they didn’t understand his dream, but lo and behold, his daughter finally understands and has suddenly returned to take over the family business! (Trust me, his daughter hasn’t come back – her bedroom has no door on it!). A CAN’T MISS if you’re in Melbourne and not afraid of complete psychopaths.
Day Four : We flew to Cairnes, a jungly part of Australia (somehow pronounced as “Cannes” by the natives), and went to the zoo. Feeding kangaroos! Petting koalas! Talking to a bird that kept calling us “asshole”! Then we excitedly took advantage of the “Opal Museum – FREE ADMISSION” next door to the zoo. Interestingly, it turned out to be a three-minute propaganda video followed by an overpriced jewelry store with a pushy saleswoman as “tour guide.” At night, I drank and fell asleep.
Day Five : Snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef. Lots of old people on the boat, many of whom chose to vomit. Saw some lovely coral and neat fish. And sunburn? My whole back, the sunburn!
Day Six : Snorkeling at a different part of the Great Barrier Reef – some sort of sandbar thing with a trillion birds on it, all tweetin’ and matin’ and crap(pin’). Saw a cute little shark and some huge sea turtles. Brenda saw a 6-foot long stingray buried in the sand underwater and kept swimming up to look it in the eye. Dinner? Banana Pizza! Only in America!
Day Seven : An all-day-and-all-of-the-night animal tour led by a nature-loving hippy woman who smelled like she’d been bathing in shit. Nice tour though, and we saw lots of possums up in the trees doing they crazyass possum wiggida. Then the hippy woman drove nine thousand miles an hour down a winding mountain road at one in the morning and we all died and are in Heaven now, which is where I’m writing this piece. It’s okay, but this “God” fellow has a total Napoleon complex.
Day Eight : Rode in a scary cable car eight billion miles above a forest, then visited an Aborigine cultural park full of scary tribal dancers (who hate white people) and mostly-naked men demonstrating the amazing versatility of the didgeridoo and its three different noises. They also taught us how to be boomerang throwers and spearchuckers. It’s hard to be a spearchucker! Did you know that you can’t just throw the spear; you actually have to propel it forward with a second, hard-to-grasp wooden pole thingy? I couldn’t get it to work. Luckily, I make $60,000 a year so that’s not an issue at this time.
Day Nine: Off to Sydney! Found the Easybeats albums I wanted (as well as over a hundred other albums and CDs – we had to buy a new suitcase just to get all my new music home!) and did this crazy thing where you walk to the top of the Sydney Bridge. And I mean the TOP. Like, the top of the ARCH, way above the traffic. A little scary, sure, but great view of that weirdass Sydney Opera House! Have you ever seen that thing? Look it up on the World Wide Internet. It’s weird looking!
Day Ten: Caving in butt-cold water (not sure how cold – all Celsius measurements sound the same to me) and abseiling down a 100-foot waterfall. I was hoping “abseiling” meant riding in a sailboat but, you know, with your abdomen. Unfortunately, it actually means “walking down the side of the cliff backwards while holding onto a rope.” My rope of course got stuck on a rock and nearly flung me off the side of the mountain, but I gave it some elbow grease and reached the water sound and safe.
Day Eleven: Back to Melbourne! I think we just shopped. Did you know they call Rice Krispies “Rice Bubbles” over there? It’s true! And “Ketchup” is called “Tomato,” “Raisins” are called “Sultanas.” And if you get your food to go, it’s called “Take Away.” And the toilets have two different flush options - Normal and So Weak The Yellow Doesn’t Even All Go Away! And Life Savers are completely different over there, with weird flavors like “Fizzy Soda” and “Musk”! And the tabloids are full of naked celebrities! And they show boobs on the TV news! I saw them! Gregg said once he even saw a penis in a movie aired on broadcast TV! And they do this weird driving maneuver called a “hook turn,” in which you cut across every single lane of traffic available to you! Visiting Australia sure wasn’t like visiting the United States! The moon gibboused upside down! We bought our dog a dried kangaroo tail to chew on! They have bands like TISM, The Ted Mulry Gang and The Skyhooks! They say “No worries” all the time just like in a Paul Hogan moving picture! They all get a day off work for a horse race! If you think you know what Australia’s like, “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming,” in the words of Judas Priest’s Rob Halford! (though I suspect he was referring to his penis in some guy’s ass). At night we watched a TV special called “Michael Jackson’s Face.”
Day Twelve: Visited an awesome Nature Reserve and cavorted with duckbilled platypuses, more kangaroos, koalas, dingoes, wombats, water rats, bandicoots, cassowaries, echidnas, lyrebirds and wallabies. If you ever go to Australia, don’t miss the animals. They’re the only good thing that this godforsaken ozone-layerless Hell on Earth has to offer! As the day drew to a close, we tasted wine on a wine farm and went to a karaoke bar where I wowed the crowd (us, a gross drunk old bag and a weird boring Chinese couple) with my PiZaZz-laden renditions of “Fun Fun Fun” and “I Fought The Law.” Other songs performed by our group included “How Will I Know?,” “Ironic,” “MacArthur Park,” “Brandy You’re A Fine Girl,” “Love Shack” and “Devil Woman.” We finished the evening with a visit to the Croft Institute, an extremely bizarre bar with a medical school theme (eyewashes and gurneys in the bathrooms, an “Office of Alcohology,” a chemical lab sink in the middle of the building, drink menu scrawled on a chalkboard, etc). They sure don’t make bars like that in America! (except the Pharmacy bar in downtown NYC)
Day Thirteen: A Mexican Fiesta at Gregg’s house! Be sure and do this the next time you’re in town. He loves to cook, for some reason. He also makes pina coladas that are so strong, they made me wake up with an unbearable headache at four in the morning one night. Luckily, you can get Tylenol with codeine over-the-counter in Australia! We completed our visit with what may be THE definitive Australian tourist activity: watching a TV special called “What Happened to Michael Jackson?”
In conclusion, we had a genteel time in Australia and recommend it to anybody who’s in the market for intriguing cultural differences, adorable animals and cheap albums. But don’t drink the water. There’s blood in the water.
What would you say?
Augh! Ants marching up my nose!
On a topic totally unrelated to Neil Hamburger, you better believe the bloke who runs Ned Kelly's Last Stand about how many school kids pass through there. I defy you to find one person who has been schooled in Victoria in the last 20 years or so who hasn't at one point been dragged along there on some poltershitty school excursion! Truly lame-ass.
Sitting with my companion, I noticed a fine gentleman carrying Qantas-tagged luggage, and speaking in an American accent. "Ah!", thought I. "Could that be the famed Prindle? Could we really be in the same room?"
Being a chickenshit, I sent my friend over to ask him if he, indeed, was Prindle. "No, Prindle is back in New York", came the reply. Damn.
Neil Hamburger did his set after a 35mm showing of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Sauntering into the lobby, I saw the gentleman who was the object of mistaken identity crisis with a crowd of people around him.
Holy shit! I mistook Neil Hamburger for Prindle! What a faux pas! What irony!
I did briefly yak with firstname.lastname@example.org, though. What a guy.
Lordy. Isn't my life comic.
Live At The Phoenix Greyhound Park DVD - Kung Fu Films 2003
maybe i'm bitter? maybe i use the phrase "rock hard cocks" too often? maybe the best thing about this DVD is watching my friend's expressions turn sour after every build-up? all the way through. each joke. each joke about about madonna.
Q: why did britanny spears french kiss madonna?
A: to taste what a Guy's cock tasted like
Q: why was Colin Aikin's colin achin'?
A: from too many hot chicks giving him rim jobs
Left For Dead In Malaysia DVD - Million Dollar Pictures 2004
Filmed in black and white in a California nightclub filled with Asian actors/resses, Left For Dead In Malaysia reworks the first ten minutes of Neil's similarly-titled 1999 comi-tragedy CD. The film noir direction and minimal acting are hilarious, beginning with the suspicious and threatening stares of the crowd as Neil hits the dusty stage in his tuxedo, and ending ten minutes later as Hamburger manager Art Huckman (portrayed by Martin Warner of Lightning: The White Stallion fame) heads upstairs with two waitresses, leaving Neil desperately pleading, "But they don't understand a word I'm saying!" In between are some comedy moments so obscure and priceless, you'll eat your hat for a dollar. If you're a true Hamburgerhead, you haven't lived until you've seen Art Huckman mouthing along to the horrific punchline of Neil's "How many Spice Girls does it take to screw in a light bulb?" riddle before attempting to get a round of applause going (it doesn't work).
But don't just take my word for it -- ask the director himself what he thinks! He'll give you an honest, objective take on the proceedings, and perhaps even agree to sell you a copy - especially if you're a fancy producer with a big movie company. Call him right now at email@example.com. Tell him Dave sent ya!
Oh. I'm not Dave?
Christ, it's gonna break Sam's heart when he hears about this. I'd just written "Hold On I'm A-Comin '04" and everything!
Great Moments At Di Presa's Pizza House - Drag City 2005
Neil Hamburger began as a series of prank phone calls. An unfunny, drunken young man would call comedy clubs and try to keep the proprietors on the line for as long as possible while telling jokes that made no sense at all. When these calls were released as part of Amarillo Records' Great Phone Calls, a small but fervid audience -- including myself, a 'hip' college DJ 'with a full head of hair' at the time -- quickly developed. Enjoying the positive feedback and rapid sales that his prank calls inspired, this young funnyman then decided to record a few tracks of this "Neil Hamburger" comedian performing his act in a "comedy club". These wound up on various underground compilations and on his debut single, Looking For Laughs. Nobody honestly thought at the time that Neil Hamburger was going to become an actual touring comedian. In fact, by all accounts, he didn't perform his first live show until after his third album had been out for a while. But let me continue.
I know it's a popular argument, but having followed his career from the beginning, I can assure you that nothing about Neil Hamburger's act was derived from Kaufman's "Tony Clifton" character. The only reasons people constantly accuse him of this is because (a) he wears a tuxedo, (b) he is clearly a "character," and (c) in his live appearances, he's sometimes humorously belligerent to his audience. There are no other similarities between the two. Imagine Neil dressed in pants and a t-shirt and doing the exact same act he does now -- where's your Clifton likeness now? Tony was a blustery aggressive asshole (like Andrew Dice Clay's character); Neil Hamburger is a nebbish loser. To be quite honest, I don't get the feeling that his main influence is even "other top-selling comedians" at all. Here, let me continue again. I like continuing.
It has been a long time since Neil Hamburger was intended to be merely "a comedian who's so bad that he's funny." As developed over the course of his first few albums and singles, the character grew to symbolize more of a generalized "failure": failure to keep his marriage together, failure to turn all of his hard work into any sort of success, failure even to understand the basic theories of comedy, his purported 'passion'. On his first three albums - especially the nearly jokeless Left For Dead In Malaysia -- Neil Hamburger was a character study in depression, frustration and underachievement. Sometimes his jokes didn't make sense and sometimes they just weren't funny, but that was only PART of the point. The main point, if you ask me, was his complete inability to rise above his personal problems and anxieties to at least PRETEND to put on a high-energy entertaining comedy show.
So at some point around the time Inside Neil Hamburger came out, suddenly Neil was touring with every hip alternative band since Shasta. The live shows have always differed from the records however, probably because Neil doesn't want to just go onstage and depress everybody for half an hour (and surely this must cause some confusion to people who laugh heartily at his concerts only to pick up Left For Dead In Malaysia and wonder what in the hell happened). And to a certain extent, the live shows do betray his original vision for the character in that, although he does present himself onstage as a pathetic incompetent alcoholic, his jokes are honestly FUNNY. But that's the moneymaker. And people really enjoy it, so why not?
But back to the albums, since this isn't a live concert review site like All-Music Guide. One thing you certainly must give Neil credit for is doing something different with every release. His first album was pretty much straight nonsensical humor told by a woeful man, his second showcased an aging out-of-touch comic trying unsuccessfully to incorporate cutting edge "blue humor" into his act, his third was a psychiatric session with no jokes, his fourth presented the "new, funny" Neil Hamburger with tons of great dirty riddles and self-referential songs, and in between he's done such weird projects as a CD of 'state jokes,' a 7" of Richard Nixon speeches and a one-sided Tribute to Princess Diana. This new one is no different, in that it's also different. Now that my preface has reached its seventh paragraph, maybe I'll start talking about the actual album.
This is a new phase Neil Hamburger album. If you're looking for laughs, you'll find hundreds of them. If you're looking for up-to-snuff comedy writing, you'll find thousands of it. However, if you're looking for Neil Hamburger, look elsewhere.
You see, this is not a Neil Hamburger album in the traditional sense. Sure, he appears on it and even tells some of his classic XXX-rated riddles (even though you can clearly hear a family with a young child in the audience), but the CD title Great Moments At Di Presa's Pizza House doesn't just refer to Neil Hamburger's great moments -- it means ALL the great moments! You see, this CD isn't about Neil Hamburger; it's about Di Presa's Pizzeria. It's a historical audio tribute to the now-closed restaurant, and is narrated by Neil Hamburger only because he used to perform there before hitting it big on the alternative rock circuit.
But don't close your heart to it before you've heard it, Neil Hamburger fan! It may not be a pure Neil Hamburger release, but it's soaking in his inimitable brand of humor. This is not an album that somebody else released with just a token appearance by Neil Hamburger and his name put on the cover to screw you. First of all, he keeps popping up all throughout the CD. Second and lastly, if you want to believe that Neil is a character portrayed by somebody else, then you'd probably hear this release and assume that the entire thing was written by that same person. It's THAT funny. Whether this is the case or, as is obviously more likely, it is in fact an actual documentary of a pizza shop that just turned out wrong, this is a brilliant and hysterical release.
So if Neil isn't the main character, who is? Well, during your 30-minute journey, you'll spend lots of time with sleazy Di Presa's proprietor Rono Laird, as well as hearing the warm pizza anecdotes of a fat masturbatory loser, a bubbly teenage girl, a gossip-mongering neighbor of Neil's, a disgusted health inspector, a disgustING food critic, an alcoholic poet, a fellow godawful comedian and a sad old woman waiting to die. And more than this, you'll spend lots of time rewinding the CD to catch the jokes you missed while you were laughing at the jokes right before them.
That last observation is in fact a major differentiator between this release and Neil's past recordings. Where he was previously content to set up an uncomfortable mood and relieve it with comedy only sporadically, this CD is jam-packed with joke after joke after joke. Not "comedy" jokes, but "humorist" jokes. Nearly every line on the CD is a joke. Even every piece of MUSIC on this CD is a joke (and there are MANY, MANY pieces of music on this CD -- all pulled from horrible vanity pressings and high school band recordings). Seriously, listen to how the music is utilized -- the "pipe organ" music, the "psychedelic era" music, the "guy who ran for president but didn't win because he was too crazy" music -- I could be wrong here, but I'd almost swear that the entire reason these "jokes" were written in the first place was just to give its creators an excuse to include more stupid (and hilarious) music on the CD. Pay attention to each piece of music and you'll see what I mean. And you'll be laughing all the way to the bank of the Tennessee River!
Like an Airplane! or Top Secret! for the ears, there is simply no stoppage to the whirlwind of jokes (good and bad) that fly your way. If at some point you hear something that doesn't sound like a joke... it's probably a joke. And by "joke," I don't mean that every line is a rip-roaring comedy gag that you might hear on Benson or today's top TV shows. I just mean that Neil's particular brand of long-winded, bizarre humor permeates the entire piece. Here's a good example -- a sample piece of dialogue from Rono Laird: "I always say, 'Neil, you're family! That's why I don't want you flirting with any of my daughters. That would be incest.' It wouldn't be incest really. That's just a good excuse to keep him from getting any ideas, because I don't think he would make a good provider. He's already been divorced once."
Not to mention the fact that Neil tosses off quite a few zingers in his role as narrator. To wit: "There was mildew on the walls. There was mildew on the seat kitchens. Hey, there's mildew in my career!"
Which doesn't explain what a "seat kitchen" is, but we'll chalk that up to natural incompetence.
30 minutes, no track titles, all humor. Even if you've never heard of Neil Hamburger, you should hear of this great conceptual CD. If you like pizza, you will love this CD. If you've ever met an Italian, this CD is for you. If you have a CD player, make this your first purchase. When Christmas rolls around, don't forget to fill the stockings with this CD. Kids love it and adults like it a lot. In fact, I will without hesitation dub thee "the most honestly laugh-out-lord release he's ever created," even though he doesn't really appear on it all that much. Such is the career of The World's Funnyman, Neeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeil Hotdog!
I cottoned onto his existence through here and quickly downloaded America's Funnyman (don't worry, Neil, I own it now. You need the money.) and was struck by how brutal it was - not to the crowd, not the content within the jokes or even to 'himself' - to me, and if I'm making pretentious leaps here, I apologise - it spoke about comedy as an artform, how pat and cold it is, it spoke about people and how cowardly and lame they are - and a thousand other points other comedians are too wrapped up in 'structure' and 'segues' to really understand. They were jokes within jokes, humour to be found in the dead silences between jokes. People who got the joke (I hope I'm one) really got it and it stuck to them. But this site has helped me live vicariously through Neil.
So, I picked this record up. First oddity - I got this in HMV. The first and only time I have ever seen Neil's records in a major outlet. I listened to it when I got home, and several subsequent times throughout the next month or so. I was working a very depressing job in a special school that was really difficult to get to on time every day, owing to the rather inconsiderate location, but this record was kicking me onto the bus in the morning and pushing me off the second train at the other end. The jokes are thick and fast, the other characters are fantastic (Rono Laird, Leroy Brothers & the girl who says how she "hates her fucking life so much!"). It was, I felt, a really mature and progressive work - possibly one purists of Hamburger wouldn't get - after all, he makes few appearances on it in the guise we know and love.
Anyway, this release is probably his best work - but perhaps nothing can really compare to the thrill of seeing this in the flesh. I don't know whether it's self-projection, or empathy - but I feel I 'get' what he's trying to do, and am probably laughing as much at the original execution (because as you say, he's nothing like Kaufman) as much as the jokes. It's a triumph - a small character on an obscure prank calls record blowing up. The character has three-dimensions now, possibly something you couldn't argue that the 'Man from HOTTT Pizza' ever would. 10/10.
Left For Dead In Malaysia Platinum Edition DVD - 2005
AWKWARD INSTANT! and Neil Hamburger's first joke is jettisoned! Punchline furiously pumping its stiff green gallop! And bored Malaysian heads bob up! Poise! Delicate! Pause! Consent in mute non-laughing agony! Even though Neil's act is CAREFULLY REFINED, his fate is SEALED OVER!!!!!
Now listen to this, I'll tell you about the heartache. I'll tell you about the heartache and the (*falls asleep in bathtub*)
If you're visiting a Neil Hamburger comedy showcase near you tonight, be sure and visit the "Merch" (short for "American") booth to pick up a balloon, keychain, button, t-shirt, sticker, magnet, and copy of Left For Dead In Malaysia Platinum Edition DVD. Packaged in a lovely rectangular metal case festooned with a photo of Mr. Hamburger and chock-a-block full of handy-doos and howsabout-a-stinkies, the Platinum Edition will make you forget that the original version ever existed!
If you'd like a summary of the original Non-Platinum Edition, scroll up a piece for I have no intention of repeating myself. Instead, my goal is to push additional information into your long-term memory bank, including the following: This platinum edition disc includes the entire original film PLUS! a commentary track by star Neil Hamburger (who continually refers to himself as a "handsome young comedian" and claims that the camera adds ten years to your face) PLUS! a completely worthless and painfully insightless commentary track by one of the film's extras PLUS! a commentary track I didn't listen to by the director of photography PLUS! the original storyboards of the film, highlighted by adorable little pencil sketches of Mr. Hamburger PLUS! a Spanish translation performed by a white guy reading Spanish off a piece of paper in his best Neil Hamburger voice PLUS! a Cambodian translation that's not very entertaining because it sounds like the guy is actually Cambodian and has no idea who Neil Hamburger is PLUS! a Russian translation that sounds like it was recorded over the phone PLUS! subtitles for the hearing-impaired, including such helpful notes as "(Art claps)" during the scene where Art is shown clapping PLUS! the original trailer for the film PLUS! an MTV-ready music video for Laugh Out Lord's second hit single, "Seven-Elevens" PLUS! the episode of irritating Australian cartoon God's Ugly Children that was narrated by an animated Neil Hamburger PLUS! a nice little sticker that's not really a sticker, featuring a photo of Neil's passport ("Return Visa Denied"!) PLUS! a sample of Pic Corporation's mosquito repellent coils, in case you decide to watch the movie in Malaysia so it feels more authentic.
Wheesh! My hands are tired just THINKING about typing in all those bonus items and dandy-graphs! Can you believe that all of that can be yours -- for only TWELVE DOLLARS!? Hell, Public Image Ltd. would charge you 12 dollars just for the metal box! Who's with me? Huh? Hell yeah! Hell? Shit, FUCK yeah!
Neil Hamburger - he ain't no joob but he sho' nuff can sackalacka! And Steve Moramarco? He be shooble shobble wibbdy app-boom-bay!
And the DVD? It's a coofy daffa woob woob cherry berry boob tube!
And President Reagan? He's a snufflin' snafflin' oboe with a cootchy maska no go!
Adam Sandler or David Lee Roth
The World's Funnyman DVD - Drag City 2006
For a chronological look at the progression/regression of the character, I recommend starting off your viewing night(mare) with the bonus features. Begin with the "Seven Elevens" video, described in the liner notes as "Rarely-seen low-budget video promoting an unsuccessful foray into music." This bouncy novelty tune co-written and performed by former Meat Puppets drummer Derrick Bostrom showcases a much younger, much happier, and much more hirsute Neil Hamburger dancing in his car and getting ready to take the world by storm, if necessary. Fans may even have a hard time recognizing Mr. Hamburger in his pre-hair gel days!
Your next stop should be the black-and-white featurette "Left For Dead In Malaysia," already reviewed twice on this page. This is Neil Hamburger a few years after "Seven Elevens," worn down and depressed by his recent divorce and the never-ending 'Borscht Belt' comedy club tours arranged by his (former) manager Art Huckman. This is Neil Hamburger as most of his oldest fans remember him -- a ludicrously unfunny sad sack spiraling nowhere fast.
Thirdly, please view "America's Funnyman," a Canadian made-for-TV documentary delving into the man behind the jokes. This dates from maybe three, four years ago -- after Neil had become pretty well-known among a younger, hipper audience due to his replacement of Art Huckman with a new booking agent who paired him up with alternative and punk rock acts like Canned Hamm, Trans Am and Franzal Rhamb. (Ha! Just a little 'a' humor for all you 'a' fans out there). By this point, Neil's following had grown considerably thanks to his sudden interest in incredibly offensive yet somehow hilarious material, and the live footage included herein is a quiet, poorly-paced, dirty-mouthed gas that earns rousing laughter galore. However, his backstage interview footage reveals him to still be suffering from a long-standing inferiority complex. A funny inferiority complex, yes, but an inferiority complex nonetheless. Classic exchange:
Interviewer: "That's a pretty hot crowd out there."
Neil: "Yeah, they are uhh - you know, the young people are often souped up on whatever uh... so they can bring that to the table. Some of the uh, drug abuse. Some of them have mental problems and uh... that type of thing.
Interviewer: "I guess as long as they laugh -"
Neil: "Well, they don't."
Which leads us to "That's Not Gold, That's Dung." And where are we now in the Neil Hamburger saga? Well, by all appearances, Neil is an even bigger alcoholic than ever before. This unfortunate habit, compounded by a dangerous mixture of pity for himself and loathing for his young audience, as well as the probable feeling that his rocket trip ride to stardom has hit a glass ceiling through which he will never break free (he hasn't appeared on Jimmy Kimmel in a few years and isn't any closer to his dream of appearing on The Johnny Carson Show than he was when he started out) has resulted in a Neil Hamburger who is no longer shy, bumbling and unassuming, but rather loud, shouty, out-of-sorts, and prone to some of the most bizarre and misguided 'audience participation' bits you will ever see. Where he used to solicit audience sympathy by claiming he had cancer, he now shrieks jokes in a gravelly voice and doesn't give a rat's crap whether anybody laughs at them or not. But this delivery style doesn't reek of arrogance or even confidence -- it just seems like he's given up all hope and buried himself in the Devil's Gin.
Let's start at the beginning, where such discussions usually begin. Between the moment that Neil Hamburger first appears on the brightly-lit, red-curtained Sydney, Australia stage and the time he begins his first joke, a full three minutes and thirteen seconds pass. During this period, Neil performs the following activities:
-- Spills three drinks on his clothes
-- Drops two glasses onto the stage
-- Introduces himself to the crowd twice
-- Says "How's everybody doin'!?" twice
-- Unwinds the microphone chord three times
-- Announces "Alright, here we go!" four times
-- Shouts "Let's get this party started!" six times
-- Takes twelve drinks of alcohol
-- Clears his throat twenty-one times
Following this ghastly introduction, the new-fangled filthy-mouthed riddles run fast and furious from Neil's surprisingly lucid lips, in only a single instance repeating a joke from his Live At The Greyhound Park DVD. But don't think you're in the clear; every once in a while, the laughter stops and things take a turn for the odd. For example, fast forwarders may note that the 'chapters' seem to begin and end in the middle of jokes. Furthermore, through the course of his performance, Neil performs the following acts: -- Pulls a piece of candy from his pocket and throws it to an audience member who 'plays by the rules and applauds.' He does this three times.
-- Tells a dirty Betsy Ross joke to the confused Australian crowd
-- Invites the crowd onstage to display their "VD-ridden genitalia" for the DVD audience at home
-- Drags out an ultra-violent Ronald McDonald riddle for a gratuitous gore-ridden three minutes and five seconds
-- Converts his once-fairly-brief Courtney Love Christmas Dinner joke into a four-minute epic, complete with forced audience participatory shouts of "Craaaaaanberry Sauce!" (Neil: "YOU CAN DO BETTER THAN THAT! COME ON, YOU ASSHOLES!!!!") and strange shout-outs to pieces of food in the audience
-- Announces that Robert Palmer will be onstage to play his hits in a few minutes -- "if only we can somehow get him out of his urn"
There are other examples I could give of course, but my point is that the man is a drunk, a nuisance, and the greatest stand-up comedian on Earth today.
Finally, as a 'come-down' 'bring-me-down' for the evening, watch and enjoy "Neil Hamburger In Australia," a (predictably) uproarious 14-minute documentary clearly written by Neil himself (female narrator's first line: "Some audiences love him. Others hate him. But there's one thing we can all agree on -- everybody loves Neil Hamburger!") that features all range and rowdiness of great footage, including anti-Neil audiences booing him off the stage, the great man himself dealing with hecklers in his inimitable way, and rare appearances as a God's Ugly Children cartoon character and the titular "Ball Chef" of Frenzal Rhomb's grotesque music video.
Bottom line: There's a lot of Neil to be enjoyed here, if you've got the intestinal gas to handle it. And it's Region 0 - All Regions, so get on the stick foreigners! It's not called The WORLD'S Funnyman for nothing!
There's some great moments on here, especially in the special documentaries. The part where he's warming up a crowd and they only throw things at him is awesome. My favorite part of all his CDs are the parts where the crowd starts getting angry at him and now you see to see people physically throw things at him. But my favorite part of the DVD is in one of the documentaries where there's a clip of him performing the Zipper Lips song, and he's just kind of barely dancing to it, trying to lip-synch but clearly missing about half of the words. That, combined with the giant frown on his face made me laugh so hard I nearly fell out of my chair.
* Hot February Night - Off-Price Value Center 2007 *
With Tenacious D being a 'humorous' rock band, you would think that their fan base would enjoy Neil's candid observations about the follies and foibles of today's hottest celebrities. Unfortunately, it appears that 'JB and Rage Cage' attract something of a fratboy/knucklehead audience that is not particularly responsive to confusing riddles, endless throat clearing and aggressive put-downs of sacred classic rock cows. Henceforth, This Album!
Like a nerdy, unmuscular Andrew Dice Clay, Neil hurls bitter obscenities at his critics in the peanut gallery for the full 33 minutes of this promotional souvenir CD. Sure, he sneaks in a few jokes here and there, but the real appeal of the disc is the palpable wave of rage and disgust that washes through the unsuspecting "D" fans as Mr. Hamburger constantly pretends to bring Tenacious D to the stage (not included here, but a great example of this gag comes from his unrecorded Madison Square Garden show: "Ladies and gentlemen! It is my great pleasure and honor to introduce.... TENNNNNNNNNNNNNN more jokes."), tries to have audience members ejected for foul breath, and threatens to perform for four more hours so Tenacious D will only have time to play one song. I know - it does seem odd that such actions wouldn't endear the audience to him, but somehow....
A quick scan'n'skim through the disc reveals such classic audience-baiting lines as:
"What's that? Well, fuck you too, ASSHOLE!!!"
"Hey! You shut up, you little WHORE!!!"
"FUCK those people over there!!!"
Crowd Chant: "Get! Off! Stage! Get! Off! Stage!" Neil: "I AM getting off onstage, ASSHOLE! I'm having a great time!!!"
And that's all from TRACK ONE ALONE (out of 10). Other 'witty' retorts (and there are many, believe me) include:
Crowd: "D! D! D!"
Neil: "Is that what you got in school? D's?"
Crowd: "You suck! You suck! You suck!"
Neil: "Yeah, I suck money out of your wallets into mine!"
Neil: "Alright, a few retarded folks here tonight, good to see you."
And I haven't even mentioned "Security! This man's fecal breath is destroying the mood of the evening!" or "You fist homeless people!!!"
So if it's 33 minutes of verbal pissing on an ungrateful audience you're after, Hot February Night is your two tickets to Paradise!
Actually, he also tells several new jokes (of varying quality) about James Brown, Gerald Ford, Saddam Hussein and other newsmakers of the day, as well as reviving some of his rock-oriented classics that he knew would wind up this hero-worshipping demographic: the Dark Side Of The Moon insult certainly isn't well-received, and his outrageously unsympathetic "Beatle Paul" joke REALLY pisses them off. Strangely though, "Why did Metallica cut their hair?" receives a very warm, appreciative response. I guess St. Anger decimated even their fratboy/knucklehead fan base!
You have to go to Neil's web site to purchase this disc (see bottom of this page for link), but it's well worth it. Even if you own everything else he's done, this is the first Neil Hamburger release to feature a GENUINE belligerent audience and is therefore a must-gotta-own. I should also point out that Neil isn't full of ire and bitterness the entire time. A man of many emotions, he sometimes makes little weeping noises into the microphone too.
And here's one of his new jokes, to tempt your tumby:
"What did Santa Claus give Gerald Ford for Christmas?"
Hamburger was booed nonstop from the moment he took the stage, and he had a doggone classic response at one point: "Hey, you're not booing me, you're booing the New York Yankees. Let's see some loyalty, people!"
Anyway, buy the CD. This is the best Neil Hamburger record yet.
"Why is there no more Halloween in India?"
"Because there's no more Ghandi!"
I'm glad you mentioned irony and postmodernism because, as a college student who works at a radio station and hangs out with many arty people, I have found postmodern irony to get pretty old. As a result of going too far in the ironix direction, my friend and I wanted to make a postmodern performance art band called Festiggio, where we paint ourselves like glam stars and act like homosexual robots in an attempt to make a comment on where the earth is heading (that is that we evolve into homosexual robots) while my friend's programmed fruity loops compositions played behind it. We thought it would extremely funny that people wouldn't get it and think it's super pretentious.
Sings Country Winners - Drag City 2008
Indeed, following the examples of such successful crossover artists as Bill Cosby, Eddie Murphy and George Burns, The World's Funnyman herein tackles the 'Celebrity Vanity Album' genre. But don't fear that this is a collection of half-assed "This Dance Is Called The Zipperlips"-style novelty tunes. These are real country songs performed by a group of real musicians: Guitarist Dave Gleason (Wasted Days), bassist Atom Ellis (Psychefunkapus, Dieselhed, Richard Thompson), drummer Prairie Prince (The Tubes, The New Cars, Jefferson Starship), backing vocalist Rachel Haden (that dog, The Rentals, The Haden Triplets) and pedal steel guitarist Joe Goldmark (The Usual Suspects, Jim Campilongo & the 10 Gallon Cats). And it sounds great!
The album features 10 songs - 7 originals and 3 covers - that translate into music the same career concerns and personal failures that have long permeated his stand-up comedy. In fact, only two of the songs (the silly "At Least I Was Paid" and near-instrumental "Zipper Lips Rides Again") find Hamburger in an upbeat, comedic mood. The others drown in the same self-pity, shattered dreams and audience loathing that have always provided the lion's share of his comedic appeal anyway. He whines about his life as a failed stand-up comic in three different songs, destroys two different attempts at social commentary by conveying his ideas through aggressive bone-headed metaphors, and can't even manage to choose a cover tune that doesn't position him as a miserable sad sack ("Jug Town," "Thinkin' It Over" and "The Hula Maiden" concern themselves with, respectively, alcoholism, suicide and depression).
Thematically, this is about as perfect a parody of the 'Celebrity Vanity Album' genre as you could wish for -- right down to the hilarious Western-themed, '60s-looking album cover. However, just as comedy fans shouldn't turn to Jackie Gleason's Music For Lovers Only or Jim Nabors' Sings The Lord's Prayer for a quick giggle, listeners should not expect to belly-laugh at Sings Country Winners from beginning to end. Similarly, neophytes would be well advised to become familiar with the character through some of his other releases before sinking their ears into this piece of self-referential indulgence. However, long-time fans of Hamburger's unique writing style and alcohol-damaged mind will find much to smile about as they tap their foots to the sweet country stylings. Here, let's take a look at a few sample lyrics:
-- "When a man steps out upon a stage/There's a certain amount of pride that could be shattered/When he gives and gives so that others may live/Through his gift of laughter"
-- "I once met a man with no legs/Who asked me to carry him to his grave/My granddad asked us to pull the plug/His life, he said, was not ours to save."
-- "They took away my puppies/And jettisoned them into space/The guys on TV said it was okay/But you could see the blankness in their face"
-- "I was paid last night in casino chips/Made of corn that was stale/I was paid last week in pizza crusts/Remnants of someone else's great meal"
-- "'ASSHOLE!' was the chant they chose/But they would not drown me out/I made them chant "Craaaaaaaaanberry Sauce!"/The Garden's decibels provided clout"
Fans of his recent audience-baiting antics will be most pleased by the needlessly belligerent "The Recycle Bin," which finds Neil assailing people who throw trash in the recycle bin ("YOU COCKSUCKER! FUCKER!! MOTHER FUCKER!!! STOP TAINTING THE WASTE STREAM!!!!") before revealing in the chorus that he is using 'trash' as a metaphor for 'life's failures'. Then..... he goes back to assailing people who throw trash in the recycle bin!!!
As nasally and nerdy as his voice is, Neil Hamburger can carry a tune, which renders the more melodic tracks like "Three Piece Chicken Dinner" and "How Can I Still Be Patriotic (When They've Taken Away My Right To Cry)" surprisingly un-get-out-of-your-head-able. Furthermore, the gorgeous pedal steel and syrupy-sweet female vocals achieve what nobody would've even bothered to consider possible: they've brought beauty to a Neil Hamburger release.
If you are a Neil Hamburger fan who appreciates his refusal to put out two albums that sound alike, you will love this album as much as I do. If a song isn't funny, it's catchy. If a song isn't catchy, it's funny. And the cover tunes are astonishing: I was already familiar with John Entwistle's brilliant and typically dark-humored "Thinkin' It Over," but American Music Club's "The Hula Maiden" is a masterpiece of human despair, and The New Kingston Trio's "Jug Town" is absolutely jaw-dropping in its pro-alcoholism.
Plus Rick Nelson is rolling happily in his grave to "Garden Party II."
Remember "Garden Party"? I don't, but I recently read about it so now it's like I was THERE! The song is Rick's response to a Madison Square Garden audience that booed his long hair and new sound during a 1971 Oldies Revue. His conclusion: "If you're gonna play a garden party/I wish you lots of luck/But if memories were all I sang/I'd rather drive a truck."
So who better to write a sequel than The World's Funnyman, who found himself booed for 30 straight minutes by a 2006 Madison Square Garden audience eager to see headliners Tenacious D? Unsurprisingly, he reached a different conclusion than Mr. Nelson:
"Well, it's really not so bad/I can't honestly complain/Performing jokes for 17,000 souls/Beats operating a crane."
I hadn't planned to check it out because I'm just not a fan of the Hamburger stuff but this pushed me over the edge. Now I grew up on country music in the 70s, though I dumped it later for disco and then rock. And Neil presents very 60s/70ish Country music. His band plays it very competently too.
However, the reason I quit listening to that type of music is that I got bored with it. Now 30 years later, it is still boring to me. So that only leaves me the lyrics to go on but I've always been the kind of guy who has to be interested in the music to be interested in the lyrics.
That said, I did appreciate the cover of "Thinkin' It Over".
You know all of this ancient stuff that is much earlier but didn't remember "Garden Party"??? Anyway, it was all over the place at the time. I hadn't heard it in years but I remembered the lyrics. I played it today and found that my memory has played tricks on me because I thought the beat was faster. In any case, I never knew the story behind the song so I wouldn't have gotten Neil's point.
I'm sure this album is what Gregg intended but it just isn't for me.
American Exports 7" (with The Hard-Ons) - Red Lounge 2009
Come on, how can you NOT buy it!?
In the most noodle-headed artistic collaboration since Carrot Top joined Van Halen, Australian punk rockers The Hard-Ons met with Neil Hamburger at Sydney's Megaphon Studio in March 2008 to record two original compositions and two cover tunes. The results? Startling! Against all odds, Neil Hamburger's nerdy and stuffed-nose vocals somehow sound inappropriate and out of place when set against high-speed hardcore punk. I know! I couldn't believe it either! Luckily, the songs are hooky, the lyrics are hilarious, and you're a Neil Hamburger fan.
The originals display that trademark Hamburger wit while allowing the Hard-Ons to cook dinner with some thrash attack hardcore and radio-ready midtempo pop-punk. The old school hardcore occurs during "American Exports," in which Neil reprises an Inside Neil Hamburger routine by frantically reeling off a laundry list of terrible things that Australia has imported from the U.S. (including Extreme-Flavor Pringle's, the National Treasure films, Paris Hilton and Yo La Tengo) before concluding "Anti-depressants! Anti-depressants! Now we're going to need more anti-depressants!" And thematically speaking, the radio-ready pop-punk must occur in "Young Punks," in which Neil contrasts the young mall punks "happy with all the stuff they can buy" with the bitter old punks "needing corneal transplants of the eye." He sounds considerably more comfortable performing his vocals against this slower and less aggressive melody, so it's not too surprising when he ends the track by (a) admitting that he hates punk rock and is just doing this record for the money, and (b) throwing in a Simon & Garfunkel reference.
The cover tunes were obviously going to be less lyrically funny, but both The Sick Things' "Committed To Suicide" and Black Flag's "Six Pack" are intense and catchy songs that force Neil into new vocalizing areas. He has absolutely no idea how to keep up with the preposterously speedy Sick Things song (this is the Australian "Sick Things" with Mick Turner of The Dirty Three; not the British "Sick Things" with the girl singer) and gets more and more out of control until he nearly explodes. More masterfully handled is the Black Flag cover, which finds Neil slipping into his comfortable stand-up persona to (a) preface his first lyric with a throat-clearing, (b) change the lyric "My girlfriend asked me..." to "My ex-wife asked me...," (c) alter the final lyric to "What do those ASSHOLES know about partying? Or anything else, for that matter!?" and (d) follow up the final blast of feedback with a ho-hum "...alright."
You really can't imagine how awkward and wrong Neil Hamburger sounds 'singing' over high-speed punk rock. Imagine a just-out-of-the-oven sizzling spicy cheese pizza, with a big stale jelly donut plopped on top. Nevertheless, he's stymied our expectations once again -- and as an added bonus, we all have a new record to file alongside our Henry Rollins & The Hard-Ons record!
Here are just a few other things that Neil Hamburger and Henry Rollins have in common:
- Both have been accused of using pseudonyms
- Both have been involved in physical altercations with their audiences
- Both have performed on top-selling recordings of Greg Ginn's "Six Pack"
- Both are highly regarded spoken word artists and poets
- Both perform 365 shows a year
- Both have recorded hilarious routines about buying condoms at Rite-Aid
- Both have thus far resisted the urge to commit suicide
- Both have an ex-wife who is now married to a dentist
- Both work out for six hours a day
- Both have giant tattoos of a sun covering their entire back
In fact, you might say that Henry Rollins is just a fictional character portrayed by Neil Hamburger! In fact, you might say that on Wikipedia, right now!
To purchase this rare limited-edition German single, please visit This Internet Page!
I absolutely love how much of a replica the cover is of the original Six Pack lp. As far as I can tell, apart from the obvious replacement of Neil Hamburger in the picture, the band names, the only thing different is the penis drawn on the floor (I suppose to represent the Hard Ons themselves). Exact replica. And you gotta love the insert which looks like the work of one of those freak-out cartoonists from the '60s.
Once again the Hard ons show themselves to be the best Australian punk band, edging out early Celibate Rifles material with ease. Even though, as Mark says, it's the awkwardness of the two acts' meeting point that's the appeal (a complete contrast to the awesome Rollins/Hard Ons EP which was a natural fit), you can't front on how well the band plays here.
Western Music And Variety DVD - Drag City 2009
- Introduction by Dr. Demento
- Two instrumentals by the band
- Neil hits the stage for "Jug Town," "Thinking It Over" and "The Recycle Bin"
- Band takes five while Neil tells 15-20 jokes
- One instrumental by the band
- Neil takes the stage for "How Can I Still Be Patriotic When They've Taken Away My Right To Cry?," "Three-Piece Chicken Dinner" and the Bee Gees' "I Started A Joke"
- Band calls it a day while Neil tells 7-10 jokes
- Band rejoins Neil for a new original called "Your Town, USA," followed by "Zipperlips Rides Again" and "The Hula Maiden"
See? Jokes galore! Still, if you're a non-country fan, you're probably bitching, moaning and complaining about "Hay, what's with the instrumentals? I don't buy Neil Hamburger albums for the instrumentals. Okay, maybe 'The X-Rated Hot Dog Vendor,' but come on." The answer is this: Mr. Hamburger wanted the spectators to understand that his country/western band isn't just a couple of bozos playing howdy-do. Bassist Atom Ellis (Dieselhed, Psychefunkapus) and drummer Prairie Prince (The Tubes) are good enough on their own, but guitarist David Gleason is phenomenal. If you never got a chance to see the Ventures live, watch this guy. Yes, he's C/W-focused, but his fingering and tone are so Ventures-esque it's incredible. In fact, some might argue that the band sounds better without Neil than with him! But up your ass if you want to hear them without him; this is a Neil Hamburger DVD so get off your high horse.
When you put the DVD in your jukebox, the first image to meet your eyes is that of Neil Hamburger, resplendent in cowboy hat and bolo tie, recreating Johnny Cash's infamous "Flipping You A Bird" photo. Then click on 'Play Concert' or whatever, and you're presented with a scratchy, hair-and-spot-riddled black and white film of the 2008 performance. If your copy is pristine and in color, it's defective.
I'll warn you this: Neil's first two performances with the band (cover tunes "Jug Town" and "Thinking It Over") are poorly sung and unfunny. However, once these are out of the way, it is non-stop fun and silliness. Between each song, a woman appears onstage with a cue card from which Neil's band members read such hideous Hee Haw gags as (Dave): "Is there a doctor in the house?" (Atom): "Well, I'm no doctor, but I'm studying anatomy!" Neil keeps calling his latest album by the wrong title and cursing out the audience -- particularly during the final lines of "The Recycle Bin," which degrade into "Fuck you! Fuck you! Fuck you! Fuck this song and fuck you!" And his vocals get more and more confident as the show progresses, culminating in a hilariously frantic and loopy performance of "Zipperlips Rides Again" wherein he runs around the stage babbling and making a bizarre Don Knotts-esque face to indicate how upset he is that the band is performing a song while there is a Zipperlips in the audience. And say, who hasn't wanted to hear the lyric "But thaaaaaat's my life!" inserted into a Bee Gees song?
The bonus features are equally quirky and infotaining. In addition to official music videos for "Jug Town" and "At Least I Was Paid," you get:
a) "Live At The Cat Hotel": Nine minutes of Neil performing his comedy act for an audience of cats. Appropriately, Neil has reworked his act to include six cat-related jokes (ex. "Why was the cat so small?" "Because it only ate condensed milk!"), in addition to one dog joke and four of his normal human-focused gags. This segment is full of adorable kitty cats and wonderful moments like Neil claiming "This next joke was submitted to me by one of the cats," a shot of a cake featuring a cat saying "I'm funnier than Neil Hamburger," and a lengthy narrative about the importance of topical humor leading into the joke "Did you hear about the cat that went to the flea circus?"
b) Three minutes of Neil trudging somberly through hotel corridors looking for ice
c) Neil lip-synching "Three-Piece Chicken Dinner" on a truly strange '70s-style cable access show called "Chic-A-Go-Go!" If you thought Uncle Floyd was creepy, wait until you check out THIS clip. If the giant falsetto-voiced rat puppet co-host doesn't get you, the dancing children, costumed weirdos, and young gay man wearing sock puppets on his hands and "Tuff Guy" t-shirt certainly should.
d) Band bios
e) The greatest slideshow I've ever seen on a DVD. Snapshots of motels from a long-lost era, typo-riddled business signs (my favorite being "Ca ifornia Nigth Club"), stills from Neil's TV apperances and assorted band photos meet and greet until suddenly the whole thing devolves into a bunch of vomitous, disgusting pizza photos.
In short, it's another fun-filled antic-ridden DVD for the World's Funnyman Neil Hamburger. If you're a fan, you'll love it. If you're not, can't help you. But I can leave you with a new joke so good that Neil uses it in both the C/W show and the Cat Hotel performance:
What's the best thing to come out of the Osmonds in the last three decades?
Other Neil Hamburger Sites
Be sure to check out the official Neil Hamburger web site at http://neilhamburger.tvheaven.com!
And buy some GODDAMNED Neil Hamburger CDs at this link!
Return to Mark Prindle's Laughter Warehouse of Meat