Neil Hamburger is legendary (LEHHH-gendary) amongst fans of underground stand-up, both here and particularly in the United States. The creation of comedian Gregg Turkington, his scatological jokes and barbed wit make him an equal opportunity offender.
Clad in a shabby tuxedo and gripping three glasses of what look like gin and tonic tightly, hair plastered across his forehead in a greasy comb-over, the illusion of a faded and disillusioned cabaret comedian couldn’t be more perfect. It’s clear that Turkington inhabits the role of Hamburger with ease.
Venting his spleen, pancreas and engorged liver, Hamburger’s main targets are rock stars, against whom he seems to hold a violent grudge: Gene Simmons from Kiss and Alice Cooper catch the sharpest edge of his tongue. He tells classic set-up-punchline and knock-knock style jokes, but twists them, sometimes blatantly, sometimes subtly, into much darker territory. Between jokes he sighs and coughs into his drinks, seemingly saddened by the audience’s reaction, no matter how much they laugh.
Not for the faint-hearted – many of Hamburger’s jokes are near the knuckle and there were a couple of walk-outs – this is nonetheless a solid hour, delivered with originality and an underlying intelligence despite all the toilet humour.
It’s good to have Hamburger back.
Words: Caroline Whitham
Neil Hamburger, Underbelly Cowgate, Aug 13 – 24, 20:50