Thursday, 22 May 2014 09:31

Class Act Neil Hamburger Brings His Refined Comedy to Grand Rapids

Written by  Josh Spanninga
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Neil Hamburger Neil Hamburger COURTESY PHOTO

Neil Hamburger wsg Alvarius B
The Pyramid Scheme, Grand Rapids
June 18, 9 p.m.
$15; Ages 21+, (616) 272-3758

It would be an understatement to say Neil Hamburger is unlike any other comedian on the circuit today. From his claims of performing 400-plus shows per year to hoarding mixed drinks onstage while delivering obscenity-laced lectures to inattentive audience members, Hamburger has effectively carved out his own strange niche in the comedy world. He attributes much of this success to a strong sense of professionalism and a good wardrobe.

“I feel that show business, you do have to treat it like a business, and of course the people that are paying you would like to see somebody onstage that doesn't turn their stomach because they're in torn blue jeans with their underwear showing,” Hamburger said. “So we do invest very heavily in good-quality, entertainment-type costumes such as tuxedos and vests and things like that.”

It's exactly this professional attitude that led to Hamburger's success, which includes appearances on the "Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!" and Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny to collaborations with various punk rockers such as The Hard-Ons.

He has also released quite a prodigious collection of comedy albums on CD, cassette and his most popular medium, vinyl. While Hamburger has pretty much cornered the market of vinyl comedy albums in recent years, he's open to other methods of production as well.

“We're happy to work in any format that the kids who actually buy this crap are interested in,” he said.

Both his recorded material and live sets have made waves in the alternative comedy scene and Hamburger has been referred to by reviewers as an anti-comedian persona. However, he rejects these labels and likens such claims to illicit rumors plastered on bathroom walls.

“I can't agree or disagree with whatever some weirdo says out of one side of his mouth as he's grabbing somebody's you-know-what at the urinal next to him,” Hamburger said.

Grand Rapids audiences will have the chance to make up their own minds about the comedian's set when he returns to The Pyramid Scheme on June 18, a venue that holds a special place in his heart.

“Now, The Pyramid Scheme, they've got good ventilation, it's a nice temperature in there always,” Hamburger said. “If the weather's hot, you'll find it's very cool inside, and if it's cold, you'll find it's warm inside. So that's the type of venue that we would like to perform in. That's a class joint there, some of them are not.”

For uninitiated audiences planning on coming to the show, Hamburger has some sound advice to prepare them for his set – mainly, to stay away from greasy foods and chain restaurants.

“If you're going to come to the show, get some carrots,” Hamburger said. “Get some apples. Get some walnuts. Something like that, so you don't find yourself nauseated from the deep-fryer oil that would be in some of those other things.”

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