The High Dive
July, 9th 2010
When I saw Neil Hamburger perform for the first time, I had no idea what I was attending. Mac Dawg was opening the show with his old Judas Priest cover band, Hell Bent For Aids Research, so I was mostly there to check that out. This was easily 9 or 10 years ago and the show was held at an Olympia, Wa staple known as Le Voyeur. In essence, the place is a grimy-ass dive bar that used to pay us with nothing but a 5 dollar bar tab (per band member). It’s the the type of joint that, more times than not, involved traveling acts passing an empty beer pitcher around and relying on donations for gas money, just to get to the next town. This event was slightly bigger, so I’m sure that there was probably a slight door charge but, whatever it cost, it was entirely worth it.
That whole show was actually pretty crazy. First, Mac Dawg‘s group knocked out their set, which featured no less than 5 covers of “Hell Bent for Leather” and a moment of excessive live nudity. Next was the hairy, Canadian duo of Canned Hamm, who serenaded us with crowd favorites like “Karaoke Lady“, while wearing little more than ascots and briefs. When the headliner finally took the mic, he was fully clothed in his trademark tux. Hamburger‘s aesthetic also involves a greasy comb-over, large eyeglasses, and an armload of mixed drinks that spill and tumble to the floor around him, as he staggers through his generally painful sets. His disheveled appearance is standard and his “anti-comedy” often staggers and lurches between clever, biting wit and intentionally terrible, popsicle-stick-caliber puns and riddles. Through creating his alter-ego of “the world’s ‘worst’ stand-up comedian“, Gregg Turkington manages to confuse the lines between audience and subject… brilliance and stupidity… comedy and… severe discomfort. We’ve written about Neil before and should have an interview posted with “America’s Funny Man” soon enough, so I won’t go too deep into his back-story for now. What I will say, however, is that the best parts of his routines come from the uncomfortable dynamic created between the character and his unsuspecting audiences. I’ll never be able to fully relive the experience of watching his work unfold for that very first time, but, based on what I’ve witnessed from his current tour, the magic has definitely not been lost.
I’ve now seen quite a few Neil Hamburger shows, but none since moving to Seattle, 5 years ago. I have, however, seen his career grow, as he’s appeared on programs like The Tim and Eric Awesome show, Red Eye, and Jimmy Kimmel Live. Last month, the entertainer had been booked at the High Dive, a club only a few blocks from my home in Fremont. After Mac Dawg officially made the decision to drive up here, I had absolutely no good reason to miss the show this time. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that it was the first night that I had a drink in over a month, but this may have been the best performance that I’ve ever seen from Turkington. With an act that could have easily burned itself out by now, Hamburgeer actually seems to be getting better. All of the classic marks like Michael Jackson and Anthony Kiedis are still incorporated, but the delivery and quips just seem a little more toned and focused. Fortunately, Mac Dawg was able to catch the “meat” of the performance on video, so you can check out the work of the “seasoned” performer for yourself.
*A couple of the jokes were cut. Read the notes for the breakdown*
The beginning of this joke starts with Neil reporting that Michael Jacksons autopsy results were thrown out and continues from there.
I believe that the punchline to that joke was something along the lines of, “Because he desperately needed a handjob.“
The set up to the following joke was, “What do you call it when a sexual deviant is robbed at knifepoint in a public park by a homeless whino?“