Neil Hamburger | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Neil Hamburger

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Like Andy Kaufman before him, comic Neil Hamburger (the alter ego of prankster Gregg Turkington) often leaves audiences wondering whether they've just seen the worst comedian in the world or the most ingenious. To be honest, he's more the former than the latter. Appearing in a cheap tuxedo with a sweat-soaked comb-over, he delivers "jokes" that range from the painfully bad to the jarringly offensive--sometimes they're both at once--and his timing is virtually nonexistent. Thing is, he's often downright hilarious, and not just in a so-bad-it's-good way; you have to have a pretty strong grasp of comedic convention to be able to deconstruct it as wildly as Hamburger does on albums like 2002's Laugh Out Lord, released by the local indie-rock label Drag City. His new CD--Great Moments at Di Presa's Pizza House, also on Drag City--is a bathetic tribute to the restaurant where the hapless Hamburger cut his teeth, narrated by means of interview segments that suggest an episode of Behind the Music gone terribly wrong. Fri 5/20, 10 PM. Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508. $10. Then Sat 5/21, 1 PM (as part of "WHPK Summer Breeze 2005," running noon-5 PM). University of Chicago, on the lawn in front of 5734 S. University, 773-702-8289. Free.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Simone Turkington.

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