wednesday

Right this moment, somewhere in the world, a sweaty man in a pastel zoot suit is standing on a comedy-club stage telling terrible jokes about his ex-girlfriend. Elsewhere, a group of office funnymen are meeting at an improv training class, where they will speak too loudly and too often—and will probably spend at least 15 minutes pretending to be farm animals. Meanwhile, in a cramped dorm room, some college stand-up hopeful is trying to amuse his buddies by doing “the gay voice.” And, somewhere, Gallagher is smashing a watermelon. With all of these standards in mind, Neil Hamburger still has quite a ways to go in his quest to be the “worst comedian of all time.” Despite his whooping coughs, blown timing, terrible jokes, and the basic fact that he isn’t supposed to be funny in the first place, Hamburger is still easier to watch than the majority of stand-up chuckleheads. “Why did Madonna feed her newborn baby dog food?” asks Hamburger on his latest release, a live DVD titled It’s Not Gold, It’s Dung. “She couldn’t help it. It was the only thing that would come out of her breast.” Zingers like that might leave most people in doubt, but the real joy in watching Hamburger isn’t in listening to his jokes. It’s in witnessing audience members squirm as their basic comedic needs are let down again and again. Which is why, however hard he may try, Hamburger will never actually be a truly bad comedian. Hamburger performs with Morgan Murphy at 9 p.m. at the Black Cat, 1811 14th St. NW. $7. (202) 667-7960. (Aaron Leitko)