|Neil Hamburger/Gregg Turkington|
@ The Casbah, San Diego, CA.
I've been meaning to see Neil Hamburger forever. Hamburger is a character played by Gregg Turkington- Turkington used to be a fixture in the San Francisco indie/diy scene- and had his own record label, Amarillo Records. The character Neil Hamburger is often compared to the Andy Kaufman character Tony Clifton, and while that may be a stretch, it's not a stretch to consider Hamburger a lineal descendant of Andy Kaufman, in the exact same way that Tim Heidecker is obviously inspired by Kaufman's comedic heritage.
The timing of this show is funny because Drag City released a new Andy Kaufman record this week, and the Pitchfork album review had me thinking about Kaufman, Heidecker and Turkington/Hamburger prior to seeing Hamburger perform last night. The one sentence summary of Neil Hamburger is that he's a "bad on purpose" comedian, and that this performances are as likely to provoke boos vs. applause, but now going on 15 plus years with the routine, obviously any crowd who shows up to a performance is not only going to not boo, but will certainly applaud and be excited to see a living legend of Alt Comedy.
Another funny correspondence between the show last night and the wider Kaufman inspired legacy of alt comedy came as I waited for the show to begin- I was looking at my Twitter feed and I subscribe to Patton Oswalt- another alt comedian who takes his indie/diy heritage seriously (or at one point, see the Comedians of Comedy to hear him break it down for ya'. So he was in San Diego for Comic Con, and while I'm waiting for Hamburger I see that he posted a picture on twitter that is the view from his 20th story hotel room, looking down on Comic Con attendees like a lord regarding his serfs.
What goes for musicians goes for comedians as well, and it was hard not for me to appreciate Hamburger for "keeping it real" and lose a little respect for Oswalt at the same time- even though I still like the guy. Hamburger's performance was as I expected it to be based on youtube views etc- awkward timing on the jokes and alot of tasteless celebrity bits. Fucking hilarious though. Hamburger is a real treasure.