Anti-comedic filth, hate and fury
This article is from 2011.
Almost 20 years ago, Gregg Turkington released an album of prank phone calls in which he first unleashed the now fully-formed and twisted character of Neil Hamburger. God only knows the current state of mind of those individuals on the receiving end. An hour with Hamburger is one long, unforgiving nightmare but, amazingly, only two people flee the scene early, during his most frustrating sequence in which he tries (and tries and tries) to get the set-up of a joke correct, finally delivering a punchline that was barely worth the wait.
Semi-inflated balloons litter his otherwise empty stage as he slowly shuffles on nearly a minute after being announced to the room. To the uninitiated, such as the departing drunken duo, this is the first hint that we’re witnessing either the most lame comedian in the world or a masterclass in anti-comedy. With badly greased hair, ill-fitting spectacles and a manky tuxedo (which is furtherly sodden by his imperfect balancing of gingery-coloured drinks in the crook of his arm), Hamburger soon (but not swiftly) offloads a tirade of hate and filth upon poor old Britney Spears before launching into Donald Trump, Madonna and Michael Jackson. When a stony silence greets his gag about Eric Clapton, you’re fairly sure it’s because the relatively young audience are unaware of the death of his child rather than them having suddenly drawn a line in the sand.
His delivery might make you think of Emo Philips’ deranged uncle, while the entire persona feels like a gentle nod at Andy Kaufman’s calamitous cabaret act, Tony Clifton. Within the context of the over-polished Fringe comedy fraternity, Neil Hamburger seems like a breath of fresh air. Even with an act, and wardrobe, that stinks to high heaven.
Assembly George Square, 623 3030, until 28 Aug, 10.40pm, £12 (£11).