Neil Hamburger / Tim Heidecker Starlight, Waterloo ON, March 3

Neil Hamburger  / Tim Heidecker Starlight, Waterloo ON, March 3
Photo: Vish Khanna
8
In the case of Neil Hamburger and Tim Heidecker, the jokes are really themselves a joke. Both personas are critiques of stand-up itself and the delusional confidence of hack comedians who behave in such an entitled manner about spraying their half-assed opinions and observations all over the place.
 
And yet, in the process of this meta exercise, their performance art exhibitions are as impactful as any "real" stand-up. Heidecker's comedian character is at least a distant cousin to his On Cinema at the Cinema iteration of "Tim Heidecker," in that he is unreasonably and unjustifiably confident, a conservative hawk and falsely empathetic.
 
Clad in a douche-y leather jacket and slicked back hair, Heidecker played an angry, hapless guy who was sabotaged by both his sound person and his own feeble mind, which couldn't quite execute his "comedy without a net" improv/crowd work plan. But the ineptitude was arresting and funny for fans and likely baffling for anybody who didn't know the trainwreck was staged.
 
A favourite in Waterloo, Hamburger was in full command of his arsenal of call-and-response material. It'd be a disservice to cite any joke specifically but needless to say, the washed-up lounge act doesn't have a kind word for most young celebrities and actively hates the same musicians you likely hate (i.e. Gene Simmons, Britney Spears, Arcade Fire). The odds are good though that you don't wish them to suffer in the profane manner of most Neil Hamburger joke scenarios.
 
It was totally fascinating to people watch during both sets because you can clearly see the difference between those in the know and the uninitiated. If the premise of a Neil Hamburger/Tim Heidecker double bill is to blur the line between what's really funny and what isn't, you can read the comprehension/outright disdain on people's faces. Is a joke always a joke? You never know.