America's foremost humorist, Neil Hamburger, is no stranger to the internets. He hardly needs me to talk up his work or to flog his fabulous line of must-have releases. But he has a new one out, and I can't stand idly by.
I've had the pleasure of the Hamburger acquaintance since long before he started touring, long before he began submitting his phone conversations to my friend Gregg Turkington's now-defunct Amarillo records. Having worked on and off with Neil for nearly two decades now, it's been exciting recently to see his slow-building career finally starting to catch steam.
A couple weeks ago, my wife and I managed to stay up late enough and fight off the second-hand smoke long enough to actually catch his act for a change. Finally, he seems to be drawing a crowd that actually "gets" him, not just a bunch of uncomprehending frat boys who show up to heckle the "bad comedian." In turn, Neil responded with one of his best performances. Not merely offering a portrait of an entertainer having a perpetual "bad night," Neil seemed truly lost within his own twisted inner geography. (That's a compliment!)
Unfortunately, quality is a miniscule part of success. It grieves me to see my friend slog through the interminable series of long drives and one-nighters that makes up the bulk of his life. Time and again, I've begged him to take the way out of another legendary performer who, at the top of his game, faked his own death and reaped huge financial reward without ever again having to leave his secret lair.
So far, he's chosen to ignore my advice, but I've always tried to help when I can. Like the time Neil contacted me and, accusing me of being a songwriter (???), insisted I help him to break into the rap music charts. He said he wanted to do a "take off" on one of the popular songs of the day. I don't know much about rap, so I asked a co-worker, and she loaned me a CD by some guy named "Eminem." I listened to it a couple of times, and with the help of my wife, cobbled together a serviceable track and some lyrics. We had Neil over to the house and in the course of an afternoon he cut the song.
Mercifully, it remains unreleased, but Neil did put out the other two songs we did that day on his album Laugh Out Lord. He even shot a promotional video for one of the songs, "Seven Elevens." Now, that video is available for purchase as a bonus feature on his new full-length concert DVD, "The World's Funnyman."
These days, everybody seems to be saying, "Oh yeah, I've always been into Neil Hamburger." He's featured in Tenacious D's new film "The Pick Of Destiny." He's been generating such a strong buzz from his guest appearances on Tom Green's internet television program, that it seems he's being spun off into his own show, "Neil Hamburger's Poolside Chats." In fact, thing are happening so fast for Neil that Bostworld had better make haste if it wants to jump on the bandwagon.
To mark the occasion of "The Fall Of Hamburger" (and by that, I mean Fall 2006 of course), I'm proud to offer the demos from my session with Neil (sans the Eminem parody, which I'll leave to him for its proper burial/unveiling).