The crude, hilarious comedian revels in a unique worldview
There are two types of people: those who get Neil Hamburger and those who don’t. Hopefully, at any given Hamburger show, both types are represented; Hamburger is at his best when taking on hecklers. Clad in a droopy tux, his greasy pate glazed with flop sweat, Hamburger holds forth at sometimes excruciating length on celebrities’ foibles and drug habits, all while shakily clutching one of his ever-present gin and tonics, which sometimes also doubles as a spittoon. Hamburger plays the Sacramento Comedy Spot this week; SN&R reached him by phone.
What do you think about America’s favorite mop-top Justin Bieber?
Well, you know, I think he’s just a kid—but what a miserable kid he is. I’m not a fan. I do think that there’s hope for everyone. I mean, if he drops some of these creeps that are writing these hell songs for him and starts actually doing something worthwhile, we’ll give him a chance. The kid’s only 12 years old; it’s kind of hard to really come out against somebody that young. …
He could maybe learn to sing or dance or tell some jokes, or maybe he could be a plumber. I was talking to a guy at my show the other day, there’s a real shortage of plumbers … and I don’t think they would turn down somebody just because they’ve had some hit singles in the past if they were sincerely interested in plumbing. I say that Justin Bieber could have a full secondary career doing that. I’ve been known to wash cars. I’ll wash cars after shows for patrons.
I’ve been following you on Twitter, and you have an iPhone app. Do you think of yourself as a technology guy?
Not at all. I don’t have an iPhone. I don’t even have a phone, really. I’m always relying on the kindness of strangers when it comes time to do these interviews. … But we had a meeting and figured out what it was and that there was a real potential to sell a few of these things and to change people’s lives—of course I wanted to get on board. Because that’s what this thing does … it’s an advice giver for people whose lives are in the toilet. … For 99 cents, you can turn it around completely with this thing. Really live a good, full and rich life with the advice I give on this app. I don’t think you’re going to find anything for 99 cents that has the ability to change lives in the way that this does.
How have the profits been?
Well, you know, it’s 99 cents. But it all adds up, piece by piece. We’re paying off some of the debts that I’ve incurred, and some of the lawsuits and things like that. You really can rack up some bills in this industry. You know what I’m saying?
I was wondering if you have any thoughts on the medical-marijuana situation in California?
I’ve talked to a lot of these guys. They’re not sick. I’ve got a cold right now, you don’t see me getting marijuana for that, you know? What you need to do is eat an apple. A lot of these guys I meet, these band guys, you know, they’ve got the medical marijuana. And these guys are healthy; they’ll kick you down a flight of stairs, you know what I’m saying? Some of these guys are not nice people. They’ve got the strength of a madman. If anything, what makes them sick is all these other drugs they’re doing. When you’re snorting cocaine and shooting up meth and these things that these band slobs do, of course you don’t feel well. Would the diagnosis be, “Well, you better smoke some medical marijuana to deal with your lethargic state?” What they need to do is get off these other drugs and eat an apple. And I stand by that.
You play pretty frequently in Sacramento. Any thoughts on the city?
I’ve always had a good time there. There used to be a place in Sacramento years ago we used to go to called Chooz-A-Pasta Pik-A-Sauce. Those were the days, yeah. Because you could choose the whole damn menu. Sometimes they put these terrible sauces or these terrible—you can find bugs in food if you really dig around carefully. But this was a very, very good restaurant, and I was really sad when they pulled the plug on it. I don’t know what’s there now.
Then you had that Dorothea Puente, you remember her. That’s someone I do not miss. She was a bad egg. A bad, bad egg. And I say the less of her, the better. She passed on, didn’t she? That must have been a relief for her if you live there.
We’re losing the Kings as we speak, and it’s been a real blow to the city.
That’s too bad, because you got the big stadium. I mean, what are you going to do out there now? You can’t have a flea market there. That’s terrible, that’s a real disgrace. Where are these guys going, Bermuda?
Hopefully somebody new moves into that basketball stadium; you can’t have an empty stadium. That’s when the whole thing gets taken over by—have you ever seen any of these futuristic movies? Where some of these homeless guys, they’ve had their brains replaced by robots and things, they take over the whole building and then the whole city. That’s what you have to watch out for.
Any final words about the show?
I wouldn’t want to give any final words at this point. I’m not quite old enough for that. That’s something you ask someone on their death bed, so I’m going to take that as sort of an insult.
I don’t have any final words, but I will say this: We’ve got probably one of the hottest tickets ever to come through town. In addition to myself, we’ve got major entertainer Mike H., who—I don’t know if you know who this guy is—but he’s the top act in Canada right now. It’s a one-man show. And we’ve got Kenny “K-Strass” Strasser, who is all over the Internet with his yo-yo tricks. Now, if you like yo-yo tricks, I’m telling you, this is the real deal. … We’re very, very proud to be bringing him to Sacramento for the first time ever. It’s a big night of variety entertainment. I think that’s what people want in this day and age: variety!