Neil Hamburger – Hot February Night

Neil Hamburger – Hot February Night

When you actually want to be known as “America’s Funny Man,” you create a certain amount of hysteria around you. For Neil Hamburger, being idiosyncratic and divisive happens to come with the territory and as a comedian who revels in dark, almost anti-humor, many would seem confused. But one thing’s for sure, Hamburger’s comedy is a unique brand – inspired by Andy Kaufman’s Tony Clifton persona – and this previously-only-available-on-tour-CD comes with a healthy dose of Hamburger’s wildest moments.

For starters, the testimony from this album was taken during Hamburger’s opening sets for Tenacious D. Through the hecklers, the jeers, the blatant boos; Hamburger squalls and coughs his way through his jokes without a care in the world. As the creation of Australian musician and artist Gregg Turkington, Hamburger realizes that his comedy may not be the most popular but then again, that’s not what he’s shooting for.

In between taking jabs at celebrities, calling out fans for having ‘zipper lips,’ or even just through his incessant coughs, Hot February Night is probably Hamburger’s most outrageous set of new material. As someone who has frequented other intensified comedian’s shows (Tom Green, Tim an Eric) Hamburger knows exactly what to say to get a crowd into a raucous mood. Speaking of mood, on “Destroying the Mood” Hamburger calls the crowd out for their jeers and asks for security to remove a man for “destroying the mood of the evening,” before he asks, “Why did God let James Brown die?” and though the punch line is greeted with absolutely no cheers, he goes on to let us know that Dominoes’ was ‘created as punishment for our complacency for letting the Holocaust happen.’ Before you know it, Hamburger is letting us know why God created AIDS, while throwing a jab at Robin Williams at the same time. It’s this kind of comedy that fills Hamburger’s sets and as raucous and ridiculous as it seems, there is no doubt that he knows how to put on a fascinating show.

But all of this isn’t to say that Hamburger’s comedy is entirely without laughs. Naturally, the album’s crowd is hungry for Tenacious D to perform so there is not much love for Hamburger’s antics. Nonetheless, after thrillingly putting Courtney Love to shame, he draws a wealthy amount of laughs and shyly says “OK” with a smooth grin before hitting her with another harsh put-down. The audience begins to chant for Tenacious D’s music because they are entirely appalled by his comedy; Hamburger uses this anti-love to beg the audience for support in screaming “Cranberry Sauce” at his request. You’d need to listen to the live set to appreciate all of its punch lines but even when Hamburger seems to be entirely devoid of what’s going on around him, he is always in control.

Pushing obvious comments in a low-brow manner, there is simply no looking back for Hamburger and his jokes. Extreme and lewd, you can put on your headphones and laugh along with everything – although you’ll be alone. It’d be interesting to hear Hamburger in front of a crowd of his fans but I likely assume it’d be much of the same heckling. It’s part of the act, part of what makes it all the more appealing and part of what makes Hamburger so shocking and laughable – he wouldn’t have it any other way.

Drag City