Neil Hamburger

Neil Hamburger is a fictional standup comedian and singer that was created by Australian-American entertainer Gregg Turkington. Distinguished for his misanthropic jokes and anti-comedy style,[1] Turkington has released a number of albums as Hamburger and has appeared as the character in various films, television shows, and other media. In 2015, the act inspired the feature-length film Entertainment, which stars Turkington as a "variant" of the character.[2]

Neil Hamburger
Gregg Turkington as Neil Hamburger (24682397750).jpg
Turkington performing as Hamburger in 2016
First appearanceGreat Phone Calls Featuring Neil Hamburger (1992)
Created byGregg Turkington
Portrayed byGregg Turkington
In-universe information

Turkington developed the character in the 1990s and originally envisioned the concept as a "weird recording project". It originated from a prank call that had appeared on the album Great Phone Calls Featuring Neil Hamburger (1992). He followed the LP with three more albums issued on Drag City Records before he began receiving offers to perform as the character for live shows.[3] His albums Neil Hamburger Sings Country Winners (2009) and First of Dismay (2014) feature original songs and cover versions backed by "The Too Good For Neil Hamburger Band".[4]


Hamburger's live act, which is quite different from his many albums, features a barrage of question/answer jokes aimed often at celebrity targets as well as barbs aimed at his ex-wife. The confrontational aspects of his act drew comparisons to Tony Clifton.[5] One of his gags is "Zipper Lips", in which he asks an audience member a question. If the audience member doesn't respond, Hamburger derides them for being a "zipper lips". A common phrase used by the comedian is "But that's my life!", which he uses when he mentions being humiliated or degraded for some reason.[citation needed]


Turkington's first Neil Hamburger recordings were self-recorded, imagining an unfunny, poorly recorded self-released stand-up comedy act. Turkington used recordings to audience laughter that were intentionally out of sync with his jokes, to replicate the private pressing albums by outsider artists that he enjoyed.[6] These early recordings found a cult audience, which led to record label Drag City issuing his album America's Funnyman in 1996.[6] Several more albums were issued on the record label.

After originally conceiving Hamburger to be a studio-only character, Turkington was convinced to perform as the character on stage. His first shows were supporting punk rock band Frenzal Rhomb, who flew Turkington from the United States to Australia especially for the performance.[6] Neil Hamburger would later appear in the music videos for the songs "Ballchef" and "Punisher" from Frenzal Rhomb's 2003 album Sans Souci.

Turkington as Neil Hamburger in Portland, Oregon, 2004

Hamburger was a frequent guest on the Internet talk show Tom Green's House Tonight (2006–2013). In 2006, Hamburger started doing his own show called Poolside Chats with Neil Hamburger on The Channel at Guests on his show have included Tim and Eric, Kyle Gass of Tenacious D, Buzz Osborne of the Melvins, and Bonnie 'Prince' Billy.

In 2006, Hamburger had a brief cameo appearance in the film Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny. Over the next year, he opened for Tenacious D during their Pick of Destiny Tour. However, his performances incited mostly negative reactions, with booing and heckling ensuing in countries such as Ireland and England. His performance at Madison Square Garden was referred to by Sia Michel of The New York Times as likely "the greatest night of his career."[7]

In 2008, Drag City released an album of country and western originals and covers recorded by Hamburger. During the sessions, Hamburger was backed by musicians including Prairie Prince of The Tubes and Todd Rundgren's band, David Gleason, Atom Ellis of Dieselhed and the New Cars, Rachel Haden from That Dog.

In December 2010, Special Entertainment released an iPhone App called Shaky Advice from Neil Hamburger that functions much like a Magic 8 Ball, with 30 video clips of Hamburger giving comical advice.[citation needed]

In 2015, the Neil Hamburger act was dramatized for the Rick Alverson film Entertainment. In it, the character is shown repeatedly on and offstage; as well as the life of a fictional portrayal of the man behind the act separate from the real Gregg Turkington. The film's script was written by Turkington, Alverson, and comedian Tim Heidecker, although the dialogue was improvised.[2]

In 2021, Neil Hamburger won "Best Guest Host" of Tim Heideckers "Office Hours Podcast"





  • RRRecords – America the Beautiful (compilation) (on "That's My Life") (1994)
  • Planet Pimp Records – Good Tyme Jhambhoree (compilation) (on "Promo Spot #1" and "Promo Spot #2") (1995)
  • Amarillo Records – You Gan't Boar Like an Eabla When you Work with Turkrys (on "Looking for Laughs" and "Great Phone Calls") (1996)
  • Giardia – Muckraker #8 (compilation) (on "Ten Minutes after Checking into the Motel 6") (1997)
  • Tedium House – My Baby Does Good Sculptures (compilation) (on "Comedy Fated from the Stars") (1997)
  • The Phantom Surfers – XXX Party (on "Special Guest Guffaws") (2000)
  • Mark Prindle – Only the Good Die Young: An All-Star Tribute to Mark Prindle (1973–2058) (on "Special Celebrity Endorsement") (2001)
  • Joe BeatsIndie Rock Blues (on "It's Expected I'm Gone / Open Ended Interview") (2005)
  • Comedy CentralComedy Death-Ray (compilation) (on "Neil Hamburger") (2008)



  • The Show Must Go Off!: Neil Hamburger Live at the Phoenix Greyhound Park (2003)
  • The World's Funnyman (2006)
  • Western Music and Variety (2009)

Movie appearancesEdit

  • Circuit 8: Volume 8 (as himself) (2001)
  • The Amazing Adventures of Pleaseeasaur (as himself) (2006)
  • Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny (as himself) (2006)
  • Coco Lipshitz: Behind the Laughter (as himself) (2009)
  • "The Comedy" (as himself) (2012)
  • Hamlet A.D.D. (as Osric) (2014)
  • Entertainment (an interpretation of the character) (2015)

Television appearancesEdit

Music video appearancesEdit

  • "Conspiracy of the Gods" (Trans Am, 2007)

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Logan, Brian (August 20, 2010). "Neil Hamburger: Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh". The Guardian.
  2. ^ a b Ratliff, Ben (November 21, 2015). "For Gregg Turkington's Character, There's No Success Like Failure". The New York Times. Retrieved June 20, 2018.
  3. ^ The Cris Kirkwood Podcast (2015). "7: Gregg Turkington AKA Neil Hamburger" (Audio). SoundCloud. Event occurs at 27:14–30:00. Retrieved October 18, 2018.
  4. ^ Colburn, Randall (August 8, 2014). "Neil Hamburger – First of Dismay". Consequence of Sound.
  5. ^ [1] Archived December 8, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ a b c Goldsmith, Stuart (November 29, 2019). "318 – Neil Hamburger (Gregg Turkington)". The Comedian's Comedian Podcast. Retrieved March 4, 2020.
  7. ^ Michel, Sia (December 4, 2006). "So Good at Being Lousy: It's a Joke, See? No, Really". The New York Times.
  8. ^ "Watch The New Big Ball Original Web Series from Adult Swim". October 14, 2013. Archived from the original on November 14, 2013. Retrieved July 23, 2014.

External linksEdit