Neil Hamburger
w/Pleaseeasaur, Canned Ham
Chop Suey
Thurs June 27, $6

Poor Neil Hamburger. The journeyman comic has endured years of low- paying gigs, audience hostility, cheap motels, misguided management decisions, and post-divorce trauma. Of course, extreme adversity has helped propel numerous comedians to great heights of critical acclaim and celebrity--or at the very least, subsistence--but this hasn't been the case with Mr. Hamburger, despite his deep wellspring of failure and misery. No matter what he tries--O.J. Simpson jokes, marital humor, Snoop Dogg impersonations--he's always a step or two behind the times.

The perpetually down-on-his-luck comedian's latest attempt at redemption comes via his newfound emphasis on religious humor, as heard on his upcoming Drag City album, Laugh out Lord. "I was told by my management to try to cash in on some of the trends going around," said Hamburger; his explanation sounds eerily similar to that given for his ill-fated foray into "blue" humor, 1998's offensive Raw Hamburger. Recent tours have given audiences a glimpse of his newest direction, with jokes awkwardly poking fun at Scientology and Mormons (e.g., "What's the only difference between the inside of a Mormon temple and the inside of a Best Western motel conference center? They have Coke machines at the Best Western.").

Moving on to the subject of his upcoming tour, Hamburger noted his excitement at being reunited with one of his personal favorite acts, Canned Hamm, an old-fashioned comic song-and-dance duo from Canada. "I wish I could tour with Canned Hamm year round," he said. "But there just isn't enough money in most of these bookings to split it up further. By the time my management and ex-wife take their cuts of the pie, there just isn't anything left. And literally, sometimes you are paid in pie, not cash."

Asked if he had any closing comments, Hamburger replied glumly. "No, not really. Just try your best to make it sound preferable to attending a rave."