Neil Hamburger

The king of one-liners says gives naysayers the middle finger

Comedian Neil Hamburgerhas an unexpected attitude towards comedy clubs: “I don’t like them, and they don’t like me,” he says. America’s Funnyman (he gave himself the title) says he prefers to take his offbeat sense of humor to rock clubs or other venues.

Hamburger’s humor isn’t what you’d expect to find in comedy clubs, anyway. The comedian, who is actually a character played by Gregg Turkington, looks like a washed-up Vegas-night-show act with his ill-fitting suit, huge coke-bottle glasses, greasy comb-over and nasally voice, which is constantly interrupted by larynx-splitting coughs. He furthers the image with a stream of one-liners like, “Why did the farmer start a punk rock band? Because he was tired of haulin’ oats,” and “In what U.S. state did my ex-wife first have sex with her dentist? I don’t actually know, but when I see her in court next month Alaska.”

His style has earned him spots on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Tom Green Live and Adult’s Swim Tim and Eric Awesome Show Great Job!, but critics argue he’s all gimmick and no substance. “What a bunch of assholes,” Hamburger says. “I say their gimmick is slanderizing people doing better than them. Screw them!” He continues on, complaining that today’s comedy is mostly people just talking about what happened to them that day. “That’s what passes for putting in hard work and being a funny guy,” he says. “What I’m trying to do is just give them more bang for the buck.”

During a 45-minute show, Hamburger says, an audience should laugh 90 times — once every 30 seconds. “These guys will tell some shitty story that lasts five minutes and at the end you finally get your punch line. The whole thing could’ve been compressed down to a 30-second joke — they don’t have the chops.” Hamburger says people come to laugh so they can get over whatever is troubling them. “You know when you laugh you feel pretty good for a second there, then you go back to your usual misery and your emotional problems and that sort of thing for the next 29 seconds until you laugh again.” Get ready to be happy , if only briefly, with Hamburger after Houston funny rockers Letters to Voltron and local comedians Danny Rios and Eric Dieckman start things off at 10 p.m. The Mink/Backroom, 3718 Main. For information, call 713-522-9985 or visit www.themink.org/backroom. $10.
Sat., March 29, 10 p.m., 2008

 
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