Humor for the impaired

Comedian Neil Hamburger came to town last Monday night.

What, you were waiting for some kind of punch line?

Listening to Hamburger repeatedly hawk up phlegm into the microphone while reeling off a succession of “jokes” about celebrity semen, heroin-addicted rock stars and other noteworthy losers in the news was the audience-member equivalent of having major oral surgery without anesthesia. In fact, the only difference between Hamburger’s onstage shtick and the ones to be found on his dubious catalog of recordings was the paucity of references at the Capitol Garage to his wife having sex with some mysterious dentist.

You know it’s going bad for a comedian when he says, “Hey, c’mon! I have cancer.”

Some of the audience was laughing, mostly the various members of the Shruggs, whose animated set of obscure garage anthems immediately preceded Hamburger’s comedic debacle. A few others laughed, too, while others smirked, groaned or outright glared at the would-be comic, clad in an “old-school” cheap tuxedo rather than the Jimmy Kimmel-approved casual wear you find on those stand-up mooks on TV whose beery insolence overwhelms their feeble attempts at fraternity-house humor. Hamburger also looked as though he’d been ridden hard and put away wet. As musician Jed Brewer of Harvester said, “Why was Neil Hamburger so sweaty and exhausted looking? Because he’d just finished [having sex with] Michael Jackson for 40 minutes before the show!”

I happen to think that Hamburger was quite humorous. Then again, when I was a lad working for a florist, I once had to run out of a funeral where I was setting up the flowers, because the somber looks on people coming into the mortuary for another funeral caused me to well up with uncontrollable laughter, so maybe I’m not the best judge on the subject.

Some things this week: If you read this on Thursday, August 21, and you’re a fan of indie films, Elsa Letterseed, which was shot in Sacramento and Folsom by filmmaker Sarah Kreutz, is winding up a two-night run at the Crest Theatre, 1013 K Street. Show times are 7 p.m. and 9:45 p.m., and tickets are $10. The film features Cameron Park actress Garian Grewe as a former child prodigy whose parents placed her in a mental institution temporarily and then were killed in a plane crash soon afterward. I haven’t seen it yet, but it looks just like my kind of cheery subject matter.

Also, Lee Bob (Watson), whose Santa Cruz Gospel Choir recording is mentioned at left, will be playing the True Love Coffeehouse this Friday, August 22, with Dana Gumbiner of Deathray.