Sometimes at comedy shows you just have to resign yourself to not getting it, and that’s what I did at last night’sNeil Hamburger
show at Rubber Gloves. That was until his set was over, when I realized he’s supposed to be that bad.
In a dated suit and a bad comb-over, Hamburger is the comedic persona of Gregg Turkington. The idea is very Tony Clifton, but at least he was funny. Hamburger is so not funny, which might be where his genius lies… or his idiocy.
He quietly walks on stage as the crowd follows him almost in curiosity rather than as fans. Apparently, his signature is the gross hacking he does loudly into the microphone (there was a little too much of this.) His set isn’t typically anecdotal. Delivered with uncomfortable abrasiveness, his set is merely how, what and why questions answered with a zinger -- make that “zinger.”
“What do you get when you cross Sir Elton John with a saber-toothed tiger?
I don’t know, but you better get it away from your ass.”
These random jokes with out-there punch lines caused many groans and heckles, and yet somehow, as mad and disappointed as the overly hipster audience was, no one was leaving. His first few jokes started off with silent responses or big “huhs” from the crowd. I considered leaving, thinking it was more of the same. Once the audience realized the potential suck-age of his set, it started in with “boos” and curses. This one chick walked from the front of the audience shaking her head and saying how bad he was. However, he’s literally the proverbial train wreck that must be watched, picked over and then appreciated. Said chick was found clapping with the rest of the crowd at the show's end.
His banter with the audience tended to be his funnier moments. As a cranky old man, he accuses the youngsters of doing drugs, having herpes and getting fired from McDonald’s. The young Denton kiddos either yelled back or were dumbfounded by the funny attack. He railed on Britney Spears, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Dan Fogelberg and Terry Schiavo among other random public people. However, during a slew of really bad jokes came the ever so priceless ones. He got a few boos and one “too soon!” upon mentioning Heath Ledger’s name, but then some raucous applause.
“On the day he died, why did Heath Ledger call Mary-Kate Olsen when he swallowed the pills?
He wanted to know how to throw up all those pills he swallowed.”
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My favorites were the more random ones based around tragedy, but I probably shouldn’t repeat those here. Overall, it was just a weird show and I’m not even sure anyone in the audience knew what to do with it. The crowd members clapped, they groaned and when Hamburger sang “Jugtown” one person shouted “fuck this!” But with two encores, it may be safe to say that Hamburger's so-bad-it’s-good humor had won the hipsters over.
I missed opening act The Triggermen, but Man Factory had a tremendous but short set. And I was astounded to finally find an audience that dances instead of just apathetically standing there watching the band. Maybe that’s a Dallas thing.
Some his stuff last night can be found in this video of his show in Norman, Okla. -- Rich Lopez