Last Night: Tim and Eric, Neil Hamburger at SF Sketchfest

From SF Weekly

January 15, 2010
By Jasmine Blocker


Better than: Watching This is Spinal Tap for the millionth time.

“Q: What do you get when you put a penny in the asshole of each of the members of Smash Mouth? A: Nickelback.”

This was just one of many fine, acerbic one-liners kicking off last night’s show at Mezzanine, the opening event for SF Sketchfest which runs through February. The joke came from Neil Hamburger, the faux-lounge comedian played Andy Kaufman style by Gregg Turkington.

Watching Hamburger is intriguing as disgusting. He’s best known for his throat clearing, spitting into his drinks, and yelling loudly before each joke. Hamburger’s sets are a perfectly timed routines aimed at getting the audience riled up, and bringing them back down again. His series of jokes ranged from the outdated (about the deaths of Michael Jackson and Heath Ledger) to the extremely outdated (about Smash Mouth, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Kenny G.) Hamburger’s best moment onstage was when he solemnly announced how he just learned of Steven Tyler’s death earlier that evening on CNN. This bit of news immediately sent everyone at Mezzanine into a flurry, people frantically checking their phones to find the truth. Note: Steven Tyler is not dead, although it he did fall off a stage last year.

Comedic headliners Tim and Eric took the joke-band concept to a new level with Puss Whip Gang Bang, their 70’s funk rock band that performs songs from their TV show and album Awesome Record, Great Songs! Tim Heidecker appeared on the stage in multi-colored leggings, an over-stuffed package, and a terrible wig, while Eric Wareheim was a bit more toned down in a tie-dye shirt and women’s pants. They were joined by a backing band of professional musicians, and a bassist who was possibly not in on the joke.

Tim and Eric’s stage antics included a very inspired snake charmer act with Eric’s bass; simultaneous jamming while facing each other; forced dancing and hugs from the audience; and using a ton of smoke. The surprise came in that these guys are really good at being fake. Tim and Eric are fantastic guitar, bongo, and cowbell players.

The bewilderment from the audience was pretty high, and made for good comedy, as it seemed very few people had seen Tim and Eric in this get-up. The performance really came alive with the audience, specifically the mega-fans down in the middle, and the comedians responded by taking the act to another level, down to walking to the end of the stage to touch fans’ hands.

Last night’s performance was like a missing scene from This is Spinal Tap–proving, yet again, that most comedians really just want to be rock stars.

Critic’s Notebook:

Random Detail: Does anyone know why the guy in the audience had on a tin-foil yarmulke?

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