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  • mono 7:36 pm on September 28, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Kuala Lumpur, Left for Dead in Malaysia, , Poolside Chats, Red Eye, , Tom Green   

    Notes on “Left for Dead in Malaysia” 

    In these troubled times, it’s more important than ever that people have the opportunity to enjoy a good laugh. Well, my job is making people laugh.” These are the opening two lines to Steve Moramarco’s short film “Left for Dead in Malaysia” starring “America’s Funnyman” Neil Hamburger. Music for the short film includes a song from Mimicry Records’ recording artist, The Secret Chiefs 3.

    The film opens in an “exotic” nightclub in Kuala Lumpur and quickly moves to Neil Hamburger on-stage drinking and visibly uncomfortable. His manager, Art Huckman, seems to be the only English speaking audience member in attendance. While on-stage, realizing that apart from himself and his manager, no one speaks English, Hamburger’s “jokes” move quickly away from humor and into self-focused rants in his own language. At one point he even consults a phrase book, but quickly gives up.

    From across the night club, we see a mysterious figure with an eye patch adding tension to the situation. Huckman, meanwhile disappears into another part of the club, transfixed by two hostesses. This scene is juxtaposed with the eye patch wearing man, laughing maniacally. I assume that this mysterious figure would portray the villain in the full-length.

    It seems that this film was to be a precursor to another film called “Funny Guy-Itis,” although it has been awhile now since this short film was made and it seems doubtful that the “Funny Guy-Itis” project is still underway. Meanwhile, Hamburger has been gaining more and more television attention, through his visits to the Fox TV show, “Red Eye” where he offers various social commentary on American pop culture. Also, anyone who used to watch the Tom Green channel, will be well familiar with Neil Hamburger’s frequent appearances and short-lived cult show, “Poolside Chats with Neil Hamburger.”

    The “Left for Dead in Malaysia” short is featured on the “The World’s Funnyman” DVD released through Hamburger’s record label, Drag City. The DVD features the hour long “That’s Not Gold, That’s Dung!” live show in Australia, Canadian and Australian documentaries about his work, and more. If you are interested in Neil Hamburger’s stand-up and want to gain some perspective on his work, this DVD is a nice place to start.

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  • mono 9:53 pm on March 22, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Andy Dick, , , , , , Obscene Voice, Poolside Chats, Reflections, Semblance of Failure, Trouble With Being Born,   

    Reflections on “Poolside Chats With Neil Hamburger” 

    Poolside ChatsImage via Wikipedia

    The beauty of “Poolside Chats with Neil Hamburger” is the over-arching technical distractions, communicative disruption of the callers and anomalous-humorous confrontations perpetuated by the shows host Neil Hamburger. That is to say, overworked by “garbage” minded call-ins, faulty microphones and having access to an open bar, Hamburger assaults, demeans and controls the show creating and effectively working his comedic slander through a, what could be called:  semblance of failure.

    The episode with the talented musician/actor Bonnie “Prince” Billy (Will Oldham) perpetuates this semblance of failure by starting off with microphone problems followed immediately by a slew of humiliating phone calls, a bloody drug-using Billy, an uninvited Andy Dick and the presence of “the pool guy” who lurks in the background throughout almost the entire episode. Moreover, credits roll midway and one guest, distracted, licks a spider.

    E.M. Cioran in his book “The Trouble With Being Born” wrote, “An existence transfigured by failure.” It is this transfiguration that “Poolside Chats” seems to feed off. That is, the beauty of this show is its insistence upon failure (the failure of interesting callers and the failure of electronic equipment that plagues almost every episode), its utilization of failure (by always calling attention to it) and a general sense of humorous dis-comfort reliant upon the tone of disaster.

    Moreover, it is the unpredictability of the “obscene voice” that is the most unsettling aspect of this show. That is to say, the voice of the callers float over the scene, disruptive and unpredictable adding to the uneasiness of the experiencing of the show. The viewer cannot see the callers, but must suffer the gaze of the host and his guests. The disconnection of voice and body creates an ominous yet comedic atmosphere.

    Cioran also writes: “Failure, even repeated, always seems fresh; whereas success, multiplied, loses all interest, all attraction (Cioran 79).” It is this repitition that this show flows through and forever refreshes. This show is intimate, unrehearsed and chaotic, plentiful with a brutal and awkward honesty.

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