Neil Hamburger
  • Win Goodbody
  • Neil Hamburger

Are there people out there who still don’t know about Neil Hamburger? Dude’s been around for 25 years and has coughed up phlegm and spewed out bile into microphones all over the world—and he’s performed here a number of times—but I still feel like he’s a surprise to people.

But that makes for the best kind of response to Neil Hamburger’s choleric jokes about celebrities and, especially, famous musicians. Over the last two nights at Bridgetown, I’ve gotten to hear two audiences explode with the kind of laughter that comes from deep within. Or maybe that was just me braying at such a volume that it was echoing around the room and making it sound like it was filled with an appreciative crowd. I’m a loud laugher. Deal with it.

That’s the beauty of festivals of all kinds, though—for people to discover new artists. And that’s why I make it a point to hit up Lance Bangs’ Come Laugh With Us showcase every year. Not only do we get a taste of some of the TV and web projects Bangs has been working on, but he has such an ear for great stand-up voices—especially female voices—that he invites some amazing people to his showcase.

My favorite this year was Kate Berlant, who melded of surrealism, feminism, improvisation, and strange silent movie-like mugging into an explosively funny set that included an ode to shoplifting cosmetics and missing out on the innate sexual tension of having an older brother. Also great were the other two ladies on the bill, Clare O’Kane and Rena May, who, respectively, employed overconfidence and anxiety to great ends.

The dudes on the bill fared just fine, though I leaned hardest toward the work of Hamburger and Adam Cayton-Holland. The latter had some especially great bits about learning that he talks in his sleep about nonexistent stints in prison and the like. It was also great to learn that Bangs is developing some projects with local favorite Curtis Cook... though someone needs to encourage him to slooooooooowwwwwwwww down onstage. Whether it was adrenaline or nerves, he sped through a lot of his jokes until it became like a blur at times.

The highlight of every Come Laugh With Us event are the clips that Bangs shows, some bits and pieces of projects he’s either getting off the ground or can’t show anywhere else. Exciting as the prospect of both shows he’s developing for Vice’s online network is—a series that has people like Earl Sweatshirt and Moshe Kasher describing their best parties, and one with Marc Maron doing on-camera interviews with folks such as Judd Apatow and Elizabeth Warren—it’s the stuff that will never make it to air that was the best.

He showed a few clips of a show he was working on called Trash Talk, which sent comedians into NFL games wearing hidden microphones and secretly filming them on iPhones and other small camera. Before they got found out by the powers that be and banned from any future professional games, they were able to get some great stuff, with comics like Howard Kremer and Jon Daly providing wry commentary on the proceedings, and capturing some awkward moments with less-enlightened football fans. Though Ron Funches deflected the grumpiness of a 49ers fan nicely, Alice Wetteland went the extra mile, chasing down a Seahawks fan that yelled a sexist remark at her and the camera, and watching him wither at being confronted. Bangs rounded it up with a clip he’s shown the past two years, but that never fails to delight: a bit from Jackass featuring Johnny Knoxville, wearing an orange jumpsuit and handcuffs, walking into a hardware store in search of a hacksaw. It’s a damn shame that the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department refuses to let them use it.

Next up for me: rounding out the weekend with the great Dave Hill and his Meet Me In The Bathroom musical comedy spectacular.