Waiting for the doors to open Downstairs at Soho Theare, we browsed tweets aimed @NeilHamburger to prepare ourselves:
...funny as fuck! Those girls HATED you! As did the other girls, and the other girls
The worst "comedian" I've ever seen tbh
superb at @sohotheatre, about as good as it gets #why #what #britneyspears
will you just fuck off and die please!
Neil Hamburger is a shambolic, comb-over sporting comedian in the style of the great American entertainers, the old time besuited, rat pack charmers delivering smart gags with a winning smile. But it's all gone quite terribly wrong in Hamburger. His showmanship is seriously twisted. For a start there's a hell of a lot of phlegm to shift before he even gets to speak.
Revving up for every joke with an aggressive 'why' or 'what', there's a dramatic pause before stabbing the killer line into Britney Spears (gross), Anthony Kiedis (skaghead) or Michael Jackson (you don't want to know why he was dangling his baby over the balcony). Each joke is rounded off by his own groans or grumbles about how poor his material is or how lame the audience response rather than a sparkling badoom-tish. Between gags, he shuffles about, clearing his throat, juggling and spilling the multiple drinks tucked under his arm or checking his watch.
And his one song, 'Not Everything Goes Into The Recycle Bin' is sweary edutainment at its best. He's gruesomely, outrageously funny.
Like some of our own geeky or alternative comedians, Hamburger attracts bearded male devotees but the crowd on Friday night was pretty mixed. One of the above tweets was prophetic, however. There was a table of girls who vocally hated every minute and had to be properly told off by other audience members (don't complain, leave).
So he's comedy Marmite, for sure. Michael McIntyre fans should probably stay away, as should anyone who venerates Britney Spears. But if you laugh at subversive, clever, deadpan satire and devilishly observed character comedy, get your tickets now.
Neal Hamburger is at Soho Theatre until 10 September. Tickets £15.