While I do know a little about stand up comedy, I must admit that when my friend asked me to review the comic he's involved in about stand up comedian Neil Hamburger, I was at a bit of a loss. Admittedly, I don't know much about Neil Hamburger, other than the photo of the man that used to reside on my best friend's refrigerator. What I do know is comics, which is why aforementioned friend came to me to help promote his comic. Still, without knowing much about the founder of the feast, I wasn't sure how to go about it. Luckily, the Grey Lady herself gave me a pretty good description of one Mr. Hamburger.
The New York Times describes Hamburger as, “a brilliantly awful persona of an old-school, C-list funnyman – the kind with an ill-fitting tuxedo and an enormous, greasy comb over – on a very bad night. Neil Hamburger toys with an audience's expectations (and patience), and indeed his act is a kind of rude commentary on stand-up comedy altogether."
The Neil Hamburger Comics Digest is weird. I mean, it's some strange, bawdy, funny stuff. Which is pretty much exactly what you'd expect from anything branded "Neil Hamburger". This is comix with an X, and that's appropriate, because it's sort of an x-rated comic book. And that's fine. That's great, in fact. Because what this digest captures is just the overall abnormal feeling necessary not just for the comedy of a man like Hamburger, but for the style of Crumb-influenced underground comix you'll find within these pages.
Published by Blank Stare Entertainment and written by Phill Hillenmeyer and Gregg Turkington (aka Neil Hamburger), Neil Hamburger Comics Digest features art by indie fan favorites and critically acclaimed cartoonists Darick Robertson, Jeffrey Brown, Batton Lash, Chris Wisnia and more. And the artists' love of the project is evident in every line, every panel. The people involved in this book were clearly honored to be a part of it.
Coming into this review, I didn't feel like I knew Neil Hamburger very well. After going through the book, I'm not sure I know the man himself much better, but I am damn interested in exploring his particular kind of loose tie, matted hair, watered down blended scotch style of comedy further. And that means this comic does exactly what all great comics should do, and that's appeal to an established audience while grabbing a new one. I say job well done for Hamburger and crew.