Neil Hamburger says that he's been a comedian for over 92 years. Gregg Turkington is 43. Yet, both men have accomplished a plethora of work done in music, comedy and television. This is a known fact. It's also known that Neil and Gregg are actually the same person. Turkington, who is a musician credited for founding the now defunct Amarillo Records, plays as Neil Hamburger only to the public eye. This persona, comparable to Andy Kaufman's side stint as Tony Clifton, presents to the audience crude and often offensive humor that's incredibly difficult not to laugh at. Many interviewers in the past have found that inquiring about his endeavors as a musician seems to draw out more bitter responses than informational ones. Even the story of his upbringing changes periodically, but one thing that he stresses most is that it was a very disturbed one. Since changing his act from comedian to musician, Neil's roster of projects continues to grow. He's gone from hosting his own series on tomgreen.com (Poolside Conversations with Neil Hamburger) to recording his own country western album through Drag City. On Twitter, he recently admitted to wrapping up for a future Fantomas film, but refused any forthcoming information.
Neil’s last stop in Louisville with fellow funnymen, Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim, brought him as a opening act for the finale show of their Chrimbus Spectacular, referred to that evening as Chrimbus Eve. Neil is no stranger to opening for amazing acts, as he has also been seen commencing shows for names like Guided by Voices, Melvins, Iron and Wine, Pinback, and Louisville’s own Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy. This Thursday, Mr. Hamburger returns to Louisville for his own headlining tour at Headliners Music Hall. According to Neil, the Spring Value Tour is meant to pack as much entertainment and laughs into one night as humanly possible. Joining him are comedians Todd Barry and Brendon Walsh. Barry's comedic roots date as far back as Neil's, lending his talents as a voice actor for old-school shows like Dr. Katz: Professional Therapist and Home Movies. His current endeavors include a recurring role on the Adult Swim series Delocated and playing as himself on Louis C.K.'s television show Louie. Brendon Walsh has toured extensively for two years with Doug Stanhope and his appearances have varied from Premium Blend to The Bob & Tom Show.
Yeah, I don’t really like it.
Now in the case of the Spring Value Tour, we, some of the quality comedians, some of the real deal comedians, decided to join forces and bring a bill that packs so much entertainment into one evening, it's a surprise that it's not a $500,000 ticket. We're only trying to give the people their money's worth just by packing an insane number of laughs into a small amount of time; that's what we’re trying to do. Whether or not it works, well, we just don't know.
Which is very important.
Well you know, that's an interesting interview question, it seems a little bit like trick, you know? A lot of interview questions would be things like "Neil! What's your favorite color?" "Neil! What’s your favorite Elvis Costello movie?" "Neil! What's your favorite Nancy Sinatra song?" Those are the sorts of questions you usually get. This question is more along the lines of probably your next question. I bet your next question is from the Super 8 Motel saying, "Neil, have you already reserved a room? We got great deals going right now." Now I don't want to speak badly of the Kentucky Prophet, I've heard that his music is in fact quite good. The sad truth is that we put together a full bill, a full night of entertainment, so there's really no more room for other acts. When we go out there, it's myself and Todd Barry, who everyone knows from movies, from all the late-night talk shows, from his really award winning career. Brendon Walsh who's been seen on all the late-night shows, you know, has also had a wonderful career; we already have three folks on one bill. There really isn’t room for anything more, so I must respectfully tip my hat to the Kentucky Prophet, but really this bill full. And if anything, it's over-filled.
Is that the only album?
Yeah, you have Hardy's. Alright, Hardy's, on the west coast is called Carl’s Jr. and the further east you go they call it Hardy's. If you eat the food from Hardy's, you will sweat out a little stone. They’re the size of grains of salt, they're black, and they'll come out of your pores. It comes from the garbage that they're serving at that Hardy's. Some of the oils are straight out of hell itself. So, these bands they go to Hardy's and they'll have some kind of sandwich and the next day if you raise their arms and I don't recommend you do, because most of these musicians smell horrible. But if you raise their arms you'll see the oily black clumps that look like tar coming out of the pores under their arms. Now, it's disgusting. What they need to do is wash this off, but instead, these bands will get on stage wearing a dirty t-shirt and if you look under the shirt, it's filthy dirty from these globs of the Hardy's tar. They'll have dirt under their nails, halitosis, and a lot of them have hepatitis, or BD, and they get up on stage wearing sweat pants and that's not really the kind of music anyone wants to look at or hear. Compared to these great orchestras, to answer your question, if you were to ever go see the Tommy Dorsey orchestra, you would see guys wearing suits and ties, you know what I'm saying? Impeccably groomed and always smelling fresh and not eating at Hardy's… and that's really what makes the difference.
Do you have any distinct memories of your visits to Louisville?
Well they’ll have to get in touch. I also really had a wonderful show there some years ago with a wonderful, wonderful two-piece act called Elvis and Meatloaf dot com. They're two brothers. One of them was truly an amazing Meatloaf impersonator. He has the sound, he has the look, I mean he was Meatloaf. He would do a couple songs and then leave the stage, and then his brother would come out and did a fairly incredible Elvis impersonation. And then Elvis would leave and Meatloaf would come back out. It went like this all night long; it was really something. I was honored to share a building with this group. And I understand that they play some of the casinos in the area...I don’t know if the casinos are there in town or if they’re across the river or what but these guys were real great and it was real fun seeing them. Then afterwards as I said, eating these battered mushrooms...I think it was a cornmeal that was on the outside of the mushrooms. It was quite good.
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