Neil Hamburger

Left for Dead in Malaysia

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To paraphrase, or, rather, hijack, the words of Bill Cosby: Neil Hamburger is a very funny fellow. Right? Left for Dead in Malaysia represents the lowest rung yet on the downward spiral of Gregg Turkington's shlock-comedy alter ego, Neil Hamburger. Hamburger, for what it's worth, is a note-perfect character -- a loser in every sense of the word and embodying all of the self-loathing characteristics of nebbish comics through the ages (well, since the '50s, anyway) but utterly lacking in the self-awareness that allows the audience to laugh at his plight. Left for Dead is ostensibly recorded in Kuala Lampur, Malaysia, with Hamburger warming up a hotel ballroom crowd that's eagerly awaiting an evening of karaoke. All of the unique Hamburger charms are here: the awful, awful comic timing, the deader-than-deadpan delivery, and the utterly tasteless observations about life, divorce, and foreigners. But, while on his first two albums, America's Funnyman and Raw Hamburger, Hamburger had some reserves of optimism and an energetic, hysterically inappropriate foul mouth (respectively), Left for Dead finds Hamburger bottoming out. Utterly hopeless, this is perhaps the lowest point in Turkington's character arc. At one point during this disc's often-painful hour-long running time, Hamburger is nearly forcibly retired from the stage by the karaoke machine. This, after his manager, Art Huckman, has deserted him (hence the album's title). He pleads with the crowd, telling them that there will be plenty of time to karaoke after his set. As with the rest of his act on this set, there is absolutely no reaction from the crowd. Where Hamburger would have previously berated the crowd or himself for laughs, here he just groans and carries on. This is easily the most painful "comedy" experience since Lenny Bruce's onstage reading of his court transcripts.

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