are you not doing a show tonight?
NEIL HAMBURGER: No .... no .... well, I might tell some jokes to some of
so the tour hasn't been going according to plan?
NEIL HAMBURGER: Well if you were planning on it being a complete disaster,
then yes it has been going as planned. But then that's what you expect, and your expectations have
been met. At least we're doing well on that front: in not being disappointed.
can you recount some of the disasters, or is that a touchy subject?
NEIL HAMBURGER: A couple of nights ago we had a show in Paso Lobles,
California. I was supposed to get two pitchers of ice water - that was my rider. We tried to get
some food out of these guys but they didn't wanna do that, so we at least went for the water. I
don't know if you followed some of the Irish hunger strikes, but if you're drinking liquids you
can sustain life for quite a while. Water really is the true staff of life. It's not wheat as some
of these people say. So we had our pitchers of water backstage, but the thing of it was, there was
a fly in one of the pitchers of water. It was dead and it was on the bottom, so I don't think it
was just a question of it just landed there and died. I think those people gave me water without
really showing a professional courtesy to make sure it was clean. I think this pitcher was in the
back store room, it had a very dusty taste. So that started this week in a bad way.
that doesn't sound good, not good at all. do you think they had it in for you Neil?
NEIL HAMBURGER: I think so. You know I've done some of the top tv shows,
performed on some of the biggest stages in the world. You know a lot of these people are very
bitter. They have these failing restaurants and you get somebody coming in whose been around show
business for a while, and the bitter, angry people, pizza chefs, night club owners, whatever,
... taking out all their frustrations and that's not right.
so exactly what kind of places are you hitting on this tour? you mentioned the biggest
stages in the world...
NEIL HAMBURGER: Well a lot of those shows were in the past. I'm afraid
things have declined because of the fuel crisis.
NEIL HAMBURGER: Yeah. People can't afford the money to buy the gasoline
to go out to see Neil Hamburger. It's a simple explanation as to why there's nobody at the shows.
what about the locals who can certainly walk, or even bike to the concert?
NEIL HAMBURGER: Well there have been a lot of things in the media
recently about steroids, with Barry Bonds and Rafael Palmeiro. And clearly a lot of the kids
have experimented with steroids over the years, and that made it easy for them to run up the
hill where I might be performing. But now the government is cracking down on that, so these kids
aren't taking the steroids anymore, and they get atrophied in front of the tv, and they can't walk
up the hill. There's obesity. Some of the fast food chains have had record profits this year. It
makes it harder for people to walk. They start gasping for air. You combine that with the fuel
crisis and you have an explanation as to why my career has not met expectations.
do you have a segment in the show where you preach about drugs, or do you leave that to
NEIL HAMBURGER: I think that's something best left to the government and
parents. I could tell these kids "don't do drugs, this is terrible", but they would look at me and
say, "what you do is terrible so why should we listen to you?" I'm not much of a role model. You
get your policemen, detectives, people like that who the kids look up to; I believe they're in a
better position to pass on that type of wisdom.
what happens when you hit the stage Neil? do you have a plan?
NEIL HAMBURGER: Yes. The improvised comedians who come out and say what
comes off the top of their heads, those guys are the ones doing these types of drugs, so they're
out of their minds. I'm more of the old school classic comedian tradition, similar to Abbot and
Costello, or a Laurel and Hardy. You work out your best possible act and you stick with it
forever, and you beat it to the ground. Here's the thing: you may have a few people come to the
show and say "I saw this Neil Hamburger before and it was funny, but I don't wanna hear those
jokes again." All the people that have seen me could fit in a couple of football stadiums. But
if you take the rest of the people on planet Earth, that is an incredible audience to tap into.
There are four billion people who have never seen my act before. So if I take the jokes that have
served me the best, and put those all into one dynamite forty-five set, those four billion people
are gonna have the time of their lives, and we can really change this world.
doesn't that theory negate the people coming to see you over and over when you revisit
NEIL HAMBURGER: We don't have those repeat customers. You know, those people
have emotional problems.
do you always wear snazzy tuxedos on stage?
NEIL HAMBURGER: Yes, you have to look your best because people are paying
good money that they've earned, although a lot of them tend to be independently wealthy, not
everyone has to work these days , a lot of them are on trust funds. The ones that do work, they
are working their fingers to the bone, so why should I come out in a dirty t-shirt with spaghetti
sauce spilled down the front? Have you seen some of these bands, like Yo Lo (sic) Tango? They
dress like they just woke up in a garbage can. How about a tie guys? It makes the whole show go
a lot better.
so as you're travelling the freight trains with the hobos, how do you keep the tuxedo
NEIL HAMBURGER: I have a bag for it. It's a plastic bag but ... you know
the thing about that is you gotta dry the tuxedo in the evening because the mildew will grow in
the plastic, and you'll wake up and the tuxedo will be green. It gets a little crumpled in the
bag, but a lot of these people are so stoned and drunk out of their minds on god knows what that
they don't notice a few creases. They're more interested in laughing their fool heads off at
these jokes which I've prepared for them, and of course, making connections with the opposite sex.
A lot of my fans have wound up making love with each other afterwards, so do come out to the show
if that's your type of thing.
speaking of the opposite sex, do you get any groupies hanging around after the show?
NEIL HAMBURGER: I get a lot of them. Some of the hottest people you've
ever met. You know, if by hot you mean lonely sorts of fellows who want me to sign things for
them. Soft spoken with uh, let's just say they could use some cinnamon breath mints if you know
what I mean. If that's your bag then we got 'em. A lot of people do like to make love to these
men - in theory. So if you do, then come out and take these people off my hands because they're
very emotionally needy.
is it safe to say that the majority of your audience is of the male gender?
NEIL HAMBURGER: We've had some girls at the shows. They do turn up from
time to time and it always brightens up the club, cuz they have those curves .... those curves
that can really throw you off when you're trying to tell a joke and one of these things comes
into the club. But the show must go on. I could have one of these outer space Martians land a
craft on the stage, and It'd be very unprofessional to start obeying his orders. It's better to
just keep doing the show.
a true professional!
NEIL HAMBURGER: To my detriment. I don't know if you watch a lot of tv,
but a lot of these people who are doing very well are absolute slobs. Have you seen this guy Jimmy
Fallon for instance? Here's a man who's not particularly funny, and he's always got that food
crusted on his chin and lips, and he keeps getting these roles I can only dream of.
i guess there is no god.
NEIL HAMBURGER: I think that's been proven. I wish things would turn in
my direction but they don't. We're coming up to Canada because that's one of the few places where
some of my home spun humour is still appreciated.
and our (Canadian) dollar is weaker than yours so you get more for your buck.
NEIL HAMBURGER: That's true. I'm gonna stockpile some inexpensive goods.
Last time I got a whole tub of powdered fruit punch mix for ninety-nine Canadian cents. You dilute
that it with water and you got yourself a great drink. There's a lot of benefits to your economy
that a lot of American comedians don't immediately realize.
can we talk about your history?
NEIL HAMBURGER: We could.
going back to your childhood.
NEIL HAMBURGER: Sigh.
were you the class clown, were you America's Funnykid?
NEIL HAMBURGER: I remember a lot of tears. A lot of sadness.
Psychiatrists. I remember waking up feeling I was sleeping under a black cloud, which could have
been a stain on the ceiling - I dunno. It's a very foggy memory, but I don't think there was a lot
how did you get started in comedy then? what was the impetus?
NEIL HAMBURGER: Well I think it's really what someone like me was born to
do, because you have no other skill really. I was doing fast food work for a while - if you're
familiar with that line of business. I was a fry cook. I lost the job because I wasn't cooking
the fries well enough or fast enough, and was sent to a job councillor. He took out a list - this
was a California state run program for troubled youth - this chart had all these occupations and
what they are paid, and near the bottom of course was fry cook. Which of course I was not able to
handle. So he went to the job right below that which turned out to be stand-up comedian. So that's
what I do now. And I don't believe there is anything underneath that list, so if this doesn't pan
out that's the end of the line for me, and I'm going to have to jump in a black hole, which I
really don't wanna do.
let's cheer up here Neil. isn't there a great rush of euphoria as you hit the stage?
NEIL HAMBURGER: No because I'm not on all these drugs. It's actually a
feeling of profound deep sadness, mixed with professionalism, and a willingness to get the job
done, because my job is to take the pain that you're feeling - all the troubles, misery,
addiction, emotional problems, romantic break-ups and failings, the lost jobs, the car accidents,
the fender benders ... I had this guy the other day who had his feet run over by a delivery truck
... all these things that make life unbearable - my job is to come out and let you people forget
about all that fro forty-five minutes. To have you laugh until your sides are splitting and just
forget your problems. Really I'm absorbing your problems and letting you people leave with a clean
palette so you can go out and enjoy life. As a result I'm carrying a lot of people's problems on
my shoulders, but isn't that what Christ did?
a-men. but Neil, it seems like a huge burden. how do you get up for a show?
NEIL HAMBURGER: Oh it's difficult alright, but it's all I can do. I don't
think my french frying skills have improved with time, and my hands shake. this is what i do, I
think I do it well. I've been told I don't, but i believe I do, so that's what I'm gonna do up
there in Canada - for the people.
if by chance your popularity sky-rockets and Hollywood comes calling ...
NEIL HAMBURGER: We just did a movie! Have you heard of a Hollywood actor
named Jack Black? Well he put me into his new movie which is called "The Pick of Destiny" - got me
a small role. This is the real deal. Now it's probably a thirty second part, provided they don't
cut it out completely, but I play a young comedian named Neil Hamburger coincidentally, and I tell
some jokes. So good things can happen to bad people, you just have to keep lighting the candles -
I think that does a lot: believing. You have to believe in something. Anything really, it doesn't
really matter. Light a candle, open a fortune cookie, and your dreams may come true ... or not.
Usually they don't actually. For every Brittney Spears you get five million untalented blonde
girls with false breasts who end up as prostitutes instead of top selling pop starlets. But you
know, she kept the candle burning, and that's all I'm gonna ask you guys. Although I know the fire
laws are kinda strict with the nightclubs in Canada as for bringing candles in. So maybe you could
put something in boldface in this article telling people to keep the candles at home, i
think the club would appreciate it.
i must warn you that if you have any prior criminal record of any sort, you will not
get across the border.
NEIL HAMBURGER: Well I was arrested once for telling some off-colour
jokes, but they dropped the charges when the police chief himself laughed his head off at some
of these gags.
so laughter really is the solution to everything isn't it?
NEIL HAMBURGER: I really think it is. Everything else failed: Hare
Krishna, that didn't pan out did it? ... say, I hope this article doesn't get cut so they can
write about some of these screaming bands...