Following an applause-worthy run in London, Tim Heidecker and Neil Hamburger brought their celebrated double bill to the City of Chicago for a night full of laughs, songs and humorous ingenuity at the Studebaker Theatre. The historic venue isn’t necessarily known for hosting comedy shows and the unique setting encouraged a night full of laughs that will be difficult to replicate.
Heidecker walked out onto the stage to cheers as the unmistakable intro of Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock and Roll” played…. and abruptly stopped. Ever the consummate professional, Heidecker wanted to ensure that the crowd got the exact opening he envisioned so he tried the entrance again, and again, and again, each time featuring its own technical problem, which led to hilarious bits of improv from the evening’s headliner.
“This is the alt-comedy you came here for,” he said after scrapping Seger once and for all. Heidecker then picked-up his acoustic guitar to perform a selection of songs – with interludes of jokes, true stories and hilarious characters – including the Yellow River Boys classic, “Hot Piss.” A new ballad about a “piss club reunion” gave a sneak peak into a potential new collection of golden gems.
Throughout the performance, laughs came from big jokes, small pauses and the hilarious subtleties that perfectly season all of Heidecker’s comedy. A simple retelling of a recent in-flight meal experience had fans rolling as did his mid-song instruction on appropriate audience interaction during the In Glendale tracks, “Ghost in My Bed” and “I Saw Nicolas Cage.” “I feel like Bob Dylan up here,” he said going into a brief impression of the Nobel Prize-despising musician.
One of the most hysterical portions of the night came as Heidecker revealed the new character, Rock and Roll Gary. The truth-telling, somewhat inebriated, very British rock star – complete with long black hair (thanks to a wig donated by a member of the audience) – regaled fans with tales of partying on the roof of the Drake Hotel with the band Chicago, helping Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason get to Pompeii back in the 1970s and engaging in depraved activities with disgraced producer, Harvey Weinstein. Heidecker closed things out with a selection of hilarious and cathartic songs about the inevitable downfall of Donald Trump.
Rather than politicians, celebrities and musicians were the folks who inspired many of the gags, one-liners and knock-knock jokes during Neil Hamburger’s set earlier in the night. He seemed especially enamored by their diets and dining habits, sharing jokes about innocent Ozzy Osbourne’s penchant for chicken, Britney Spears’ favorite pizza toppings and the rock star responsible for the most ghastly restaurant in all of Los Angeles.
Hamburger’s set-up, punchline style of delivery inspired constant interaction from the crowd. Cheers, enthusiastic outbursts and laughs were encouraged throughout his performance, but when fans booed or attempted to heckle the legendary comedian, he shut them down in the funniest way possible. After some Kiss fans got a bit sensitive – and boisterous – during bits about their favorite band, Hamburger overpowered their objections with guttural howls into the microphone until they quieted back down. Fans responded to his technique with uncontrollable fits of laughter.
Along with hilarious sets from Heidecker and Hamburger, the night of comedy at the Studebaker Theatre included a fun and funny opening performance from “The King of Clowns” himself, Clownvis Presley. “Viva Las Vegas,” “America the Beautiful” and the “Theme from Reading Rainbow” were among the songs heard during his magical set, each number featuring a bit of history and a whole lot of humor.
Heidecker and Hamburger’s mini-midwest tour continues through Oct. 13. Click here to pick-up tickets to see them live in a city near you.