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Attractive Eighties Women, Daiquiri, Neil Hamburger

Text and photos by Frederick Noble

I ate dinner at home - a rare event on a weekend - which gave me an excuse to splurge on desert and drinks at Carroll Street Cafe. Four Roses bourbon is delicious, if you like peppery, less-sweet bourbons. Which contrasted well with the chocolate truffle cake. I wish they'd get the flourless chocolate cake again, and that the manager would stop hovering all the damn time. He screws up the entire atmosphere of the place.

Mere hours after I'd posted an "I am already tired of the ugly sweater theme" rant on Facebook, Attractive Eighties Women took the stage at Lenny's in ugly sweaters and ski masks.

However, they immediately won me over with a spirited cover of Spinal Tap's Tonight We're Gonna Rock You Tonight, which dovetailed perfectly into their jokey hard rock with pop hook stylings. Goofy songs about how much Jeff Clark sucks or how much the band wants to get gay married - fun stuff that would be perfect fare as the opening act for a stand up comedian.

A few songs into the set the band couldn't take the sweater/ski mask ensemble and stripped to reveal Paste magazine t-shirts.

I enjoyed the first 20 minutes of the show but sarcastic rock is best in small doses and these guys went too long. They have some dedicated fans/groupies/girlfriends who danced and sang along to every number, so someone out there loves these guys.

Next up, Canadian musician and visual artist Daiquiri. He appeared in a costume that was a riot of colors. Or a costume that should've started a riot due to the mix of colors.

He cranked up an iPod and other little electronic devices in a briefcase, including one of those creepy little Japanese owl-like things that talks in a fake, babytalk language (what were those things called again?), all as backing tracks to his tunes about... well, I'll let one of his overhead projection slides do the talking.

Imagine having a nightmare, possibly induced by eating too much ice cream, revolving around an amalgam of Sesame Street muppets and songs.

Don't get me wrong, I love Sesame Street - at least pre-Elmo. But Daiquiri is all Elmo all the time. Pretty soon our giggles turned into groans and, as with Attractive Eighties Women, we fled to the bar at the other end of the room. Comedy is hard. Comedic music is even harder. There is a reason Spinal Tap, Flight of the Concords, and The Mighty Boosh all have breaks between musical numbers.

Eventually he, too, stripped down for the last half of the set. He threw in some covers that fit well with his overall excessive sweetness - Peter Cetera-era Chicago, for example - almost winning me back, but by then he'd been on at least 10 minutes too long.

But degenerate CD and I had come to this particular show in part because we knew nothing about the acts. You pays your money, you takes your chances!

Headliner Neil Hamburger is a comedian that has taken Andy Kaufman's Tony Clifton character and channeled him through Emo Phillips. His delivery itself is perhaps the best part of the show, equal parts pathetic and angry, as he spits out jokes full of pop culture references and observational humor, all the while spilling drinks on himself and wincing at what lousy jokes he's telling.
But the unfunny joke is just part of the act. The next joke builds on it, and the next, so that the first joke is really just the straight portion before subsequent punch lines. I thought it was brilliant.

I don't go to a lot of stand up comedy shows but I won't miss another Neil Hamburger act.

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