Thursday, December 10, 2009

Road Trip Album Picks: Neil Hamburger's "50 States 50 Laughs"

WHAT: Another tour-only CD from America's Funnyman, no audience
LABEL: Million Dollar Performances, 2000
GOOD IF YOU LIKE: Early Neil Hamburger
WHERE TO FIND IT: Good freaking luck, on tour if he still has them
LENGTH: 27 minutes

It's no secret, we love Neil Hamburger-- especially his new stuff. His earlier recordings, like 50 States 50 Laughs, use his slightly less gruff earlier persona in which he's more of a sad sack than an increasingly spiteful comedian. The theme is a joke for each state, which sometimes works out as a pun, something about the local fare, or... well, we won't spoil it all for you.

"Have you ever looked in the trash can at a Long John Silvers? It's full of pieces of fish, each with exactly one bite taken out of it, and then all these napkins rolled up into little balls and in the center of each one is the corresponding piece of chewed-up fish!"

The entire album is particularly unique in that it's a stand-up album, more or less, recorded completely without an audience. This guarantees every joke sounds like it's being delivered to an unresponsive room, which actually makes it even funnier.

Like his other work, this album is brilliant-- but in increasingly unexpected ways. This is one of few albums which criticizes itself, and is built around a pretty clever idea. Due to how Hamburger's early voice projects, it may not be the best pick for your car rides as his low voice sometimes gets drowned out by the road sounds-- but that's really dependant on what you're driving. Either way, it's an album worth checking out simply because you've probably heard very little like it.

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