When the last comedian of the night, Bobcat Goldwait, commented that it had been a long time since he was the most normal act on the bill, it pretty much summed up the show at the Zebulon last week. Organized by Neil Hamburger and Naked Comedy Productions, the Night of Comedy and Magic to benefit Australia was one of the weirdest and greatest shows I have seen in a long time. The only thing worse than bad stand-up is bad magic, but the audience at this benefit had nothing to fear, as every single act on the bill, including the magicians, was original, hilarious, and even at times downright surreal. Each performer held their own against the bigger names on the bill, so it was more of a team effort than a progression of talent.
Our favorite anti-comedian, Neil Hamburger, emceed, doling out his hacking, coughing, drink-spilling comedy in small doses. With what remains of his hair slicked back with fistfuls of grease, and thick glasses in constant need of adjustment, he started things off with a glorious and angry version of Peter and Gordon’s “World without Love.” Hamburger continued with his usual schtick of knock-knock and “What’s worse than…” jokes with either puzzlingly matter-of-fact or shocking and gross punch lines. Australian-American entertainer Gregg Turkington, who developed the character of Hamburger, is nothing short of a genius.
D.J. Douggpound, a blonde in a hoodie with headphones forever falling off, awkwardly and manically jumped between his sampler and the mic. A hilariously deep and intense voice reminiscent of big car shows and energy drink ads emitted from the machine. he talked about musicians that had been cancelled, and hilariously interpreted the song, “Pretty Woman” as a series of angry harassing demands, “Don’t walk on by!” while holding a picture of Roy Orbison over his face.
Mark Proksch, who you might recognize from The Office, Better Call Saul, or What We Do in The Shadows has made not being funny one of the funniest things possible. His curmudgeonly stand-up character is bored, negative, and frequently complains about not getting paid for the benefit. In other words, an absolute delight.
*Major Entertainer* Mike H, does bizarre, repetitive songs that could be annoying but grow on you until you are singing along enthusiastically. Opening with “My Little Voice,” and ending with the anthemic song “Horror” (Commonly known as Fuck the Night Up), that had the whole crowd chanting and fist-pumping, his over-the-top delivery was perfect for his Sparks-meets-Meatloaf-meets-Rush sound. He also had an epic spangled jacket festooned with a sequined golfer.
Comedian Megan Koester had one of the finest performances I have ever seen. She slowed down Hotel California to make it even creepier, and did an over-the-top interpretation that was part mime, part comedy, and part pure hysteria. At the end of the song she had mixed in some idiotic sexist voiceover saying things like, “Next time you can see my balls,” and ended the bit crawling in terror and desperation across the stage. Brav-a!!!
The only other Aussie on the bill besides Hamburger, Magician Simone Turkington, wowed us with a 60’s themed show. Wearing white go-go boots, she did tricks with ropes and hanker chiefs while shimmying along to cool 60s tracks.
Rob Zabrecky, a magician we knew from his 90s band, Possum Dixon, appeared looking like an undertaker or a ghost from a very old picture. He played it completely straight, with an air of menace and a casual rudeness that is hilarious when done right. He asked an audience member in the front row, “Are you in show business?”
“Then get your feet off of my stage.”
He worked his magic with paper, inviting four audience members up to draw a picture. He would then determine who drew which picture and interpret it. He stared them down, and I was amused by my friend who had been chosen to volunteer. She glared right back at him like the old punker she was. He casually pushed people around the stage, and finally off the stage when he was finished with them. His final reveal was creating an identical copy of the last drawing, which he had not yet seen. But I was more impressed by the wit and style of his act than the actual magic.
Then, the person I have been waiting to see live again since around 1995–Bobcat Goldwait! He said that he is no longer an anti-comedian, but just tells stories, because you become what you hate. But I could listen to his stories until I become hysterical and piss myself. He told his classic emergency airplane landing story, which you should look up on YouTube immediately. His saga of performing at Gathering of the Juggalos was unbelievable, horrible, and hilarious. When he referenced a video of the Juggalos throwing shit at “television personality” Tila Tequila, he said it was like a G.G. Allen concert in reverse. Where else but in the hip NELA hood could he have gotten such a huge laugh?
He also recounted the blowback he got from the clown community for Shakes the Clown, and how Jerry Sienfeld went on a rant about him on Comedians in Cars Drinking Coffee. He observed that John Wilkes Booth was also an actor, “…so maybe there is still something out there for me…” I have never loved and identified with a comedian more than Bob Goldwait. I hope he does a lot more stand-up, keeps on directing movies, and if he gets around to that John Wilkes Booth bucket list item, I’ll shave my head and sit outside of the courthouse every day like one of the Manson girls.
For more shows like these, check out Naked Comedy. Seriously, you have to see these performers.