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Sometimes, a comedian’s jokes are followed only by the sound of clinking silverware and the people in the audience shifting uncomfortably in their seats, waiting for a line that might be delivered with a sense of timing, a scrap of something topical, a universally amusing anecdote, an observation, perhaps—anything that the average American might connect with for a chuckle. When it doesn’t happen, it gets ugly. Neil Hamburger is the essence of the comic working the lounge out near the airport, the washed-up, painfully out-of-touch, self-described funny man, the guy whose only talent is making even the most listless, unsophisticated, and uninterested crowd feel miserable. He sighs, “Uhh, anyway,” and muddles his way through another offensive, clumsy, stupid routine. Raw features Hamburger trying on some “current” subjects—drugs, divorce, the right to die, Snoop Doggy Dogg—and consistently missing all opportunities for humor. “America’s Funnyman” treks to another depressing cocktail lounge, receives the appropriate boos and hisses for his bad taste, and calls his manager, who gives him more bad ideas on how to liven up his flagging show. The appeal of Hamburger, if it isn’t obvious enough, is in the hilarity of his ineptness, the pleasure in hearing this fool dig himself deeper holes, and the artfulness of his failure. He gets funnier as he gets worse. As Raw Hamburger plays on, it echoes a provincial, dorky, subpar stand-up world that still exists. Hamburger is an exploration of the creepy fringe of America’s culture of mediocrity.—John Dugan