On Friday, January 24th I went into the city to see Neil Hamburger and Tim Heidecker perform at the Rickshaw Stop for the SF Sketchfest. The two men have collaborated often within the last 5 or so years and have become major players in a distinctive wave of contemporary comedy that has developed a cult following. Heidecker co-wrote and an alternative comedy sketch show on Adult Swim called “Tim & Eric Awesome Show! Great Job,” in which they both starred. In the last few years Heidecker in particular has begun to gain recognition and star in films, TV shows and shorts with big name comedians like Zack Galifianakis, Will Farrell and Reggie Watts. In my opinion the man is a comedic genius and has been at the forefront of comedy’s development.
Neil Hamburger opened for Tim Heidecker, performing his very distinctive brand of stand-up that I had seen once before in the city when he opened up for the Tim & Eric Awesome Tour! Great Job Chrimbus Spectacular. He bates the audience by basically manifesting every possible way that a comedian could be cheap and disgusting. His jokes are almost question-answer formed jokes (“what do you call ____. A ______.”) that consist of pop-culture references and digs at celebrities that are at such levels of base, unintelligent and bizarrely crass humor that every single punch line yields a shock laugh, and then another laugh of contempt directed at Hamburger for being such a poor comedian. Here is an example: “At what point during a Julio Iglesias concert do most people throw up? When he comes on stage.
Both Hamburger’s and Heidecker’s comedic styles may seem extremely stupid, but I actually think that their entire attitudes towards what stand-up could be implies a very developed and inquisitive view of the possibilities of performance. The value of their performance lies in their ability to remove the audience from a comfortable atmosphere and instead consistently reveal awkward truths about the artifices of comedy. They are like magicians who have taken it upon themselves to reveal the secret behind every illusion; not so much to disprove magic (comedy) but maybe just to show the audience that they are being duped; not only by the performer, but possibly by larger societal norms outside the venue.
Martin and Sophia