Calling all zipper lips: comedy alert!

Neil Hamburger

Neil Hamburger

Comedy, it has been said, is not pretty.

Neil Hamburger is returning to Sacramento.

The two items may be related.

The last time Mr. Hamburger visited our fine burg, his stand-up routine consisted of infinite variations of the following Zen koan (thanks to Tim Foster of the Trouble Makers, the Shruggs, the Alamos and th’ Losin Streaks for remembering, because I didn’t): “The Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Anthony Kiedis walks into a bar and says to the bartender, ‘Hey, bartender: Got any heroin?’”

Now, most people, from hardened comedy enthusiasts to the man on the street, will tell you that line simply is not funny. In fact, it is only by interminable repetition that such an intrinsically unfunny line assumes the guise of humor, if only momentarily. Rodney Dangerfield is a master of the technique, which depends on the near-perfect timing of its delivery for it to work.

Hamburger, sad to say, has neither the timing nor the inclination to make an audience laugh. Nevertheless, the comedian and former resident (of East Sacramento and, briefly, a motel in Rancho Cordova) will be performing his stand-up routine on Monday, August 18, at the Capitol Garage, 1427 L Street, with the Shruggs and Dr. El Suavo on the bill. Doors open at 8 p.m.; admission is $6.

Why bother going? Because Hamburger’s shtick is so aggressively unfunny that, strangely enough, it becomes funnier than any comedy you’ve ever witnessed. On Hamburger’s latest Drag City/Glory Home CD, Laugh Out Lord, his numerous digs at America Online and his dentist sleeping with his ex-wife would be, by any reasonable standards of mirth, the comedic equivalent of getting root-canal surgery without the benefit of an anesthetic.

But you will laugh, and you will hate yourself for laughing. And if you don’t laugh, Hamburger will call you a “zipper lips” and make you the object of the audience’s scorn, and you will hate yourself even more.