Reviewing stand-up comedy isn't normally part of The Spin's job description, but given the slew of shows canceled by this weekend's whiteout, we were forced to improvise. If Mother Nature doesn't want us to rock, then we'll have to laugh instead. So we headed over to The End last night to catch Neil Hamburger. The thing is, we would've been idiots to miss this show. Anyone who writes a joke like, "Why did the Red Hot Chili Peppers go under the bridge? Because there was a plate of shit there they wanted to jack off into," is easily worth our time and attention.
Fans lovingly refer to him as the world's worst comedian. Of course, Neil Hamburger is merely a persona, and his act a put-on. A hard truth made all the more evident when we saw him entering the club out of character, shattering the illusion of the bespectacled curmudgeon. Even more surprisingly, he was accompanied by Canadian comedy ambassador Tom Green -- who had just appeared throughout the weekend at Zanies. More on him later.
We made our way inside the reasonably crowded club just as our favorite local funny man Chris Crofton began a streamlined version of an act we've come to know and love. With only a half-hour or so to spare, Crofton wasted no time, delving headfirst into gag-inducing sexual descriptions of fecalphiliacs, jokes about rockabilly douches, diatribes against new media, tales of desecrating slave burial grounds while on LSD and even a joke making light of the tragedy in Haiti. Too soon?
While we knew what to expect with Crofton, who killed, we were completely unprepared for the night's second act, Daiquiri -- a one-man performance artist, musician, comedian and master of awkward silences. Clad in a bizarre hodgepodge consisting of a porn star's sport coat, shorts, a makeshift kilt, an insurance salesman's tie, fluffy Zorro mask and stuffed octopus hat, Daiquiri looked as if he'd just gone dumpster diving behind Southern Thrift. Using a myriad of effects processors, a Kaos pad, microphones, an overhead projector and some samples, this excitable artiste spent the first portion of his set singing and spastically dancing about the stage to minute-long compositions that we can best describe as sounding like a cross between Dan Deacon and Limp Bizkit.
Midway through his set, Daiquiri did away with his ridiculous garments before serenading us with his self-reflexive masterpiece of a monster-ballad "Opening Act" -- which, blow by blow, laid out the plight of a performer in his very position. He could've had us right there, but instead chose to proceed with a routine of purposely awful jokes and an inharmonious cover of Def Leppard's "Love Bites" that sent us running for the frigid comfort of the smoking section. In the end, Daiquiri's set was easily more performance than art, or perhaps it was other way around and we just didn't get it -- either way, we were as entertained as we were confused.
Donning his trademark cheap tux and exaggerated comb-over, Hamburger came onstage and showered us with side-splitting anti-joke after anti-joke, proving that he's simply unequaled in the art of insult comedy. Over the course of an hour, everyone from Scientologists to rock stars, dead celebrities and clothing manufacturers became targets of Hamburger's merciless raillery. Jokes making fun of stillborns in the Osmond family and speculating about Michael Jackson molesting Jett Travolta in heaven proved that no cultural figure, dead or alive, was safe from the wrath.
The same went for the audience, as one of the traditions of a Hamburger show is for him to direct his bile at fans who interrupt and/or heckle him. Hamburger viciously lambasted a number of patrons before respectfully requesting that one in particular kindly proceed to the men's room to hang himself. Of course, it was all in good fun, and these concert-goers were more than happy to be the laughing stock of the entire club.
While Hamburger's set was rife with updated and topical material, he didn't shy away from playing the hits, including his litany of jokes about Colonel Sanders, Madonna, Smashmouth, Nickelback and our new favorite: "What's worse than 9/11? 311." His cruelest joke was either the one falsely reporting the death of Aerosmith singer Steven Tyler or having Tom Green come out to do 20 minutes of his own stand-up in place of a second encore.
An intoxicated Green, who'd earlier graced the stage to join Daiquiri on a cover of Wham!'s "Everything She Wants," treated us to a painfully awkward set of jokes about, among other things, his short-lived marriage to Drew Barrymore and how his career has been reduced to producing television shows in his living room. Proving that he still has some star power, Green interrupted his set by giving fans photo ops and hitting them up for cigarettes. Since Green was filming us from the stage, let's just hope his performance was an elaborate prank, and that we're all the butt of a joke on the level of his classic (no joke) Freddie Got Fingered.