Hip Shot: “The Terrorism of Everyday Life”

The Terrorism of Everyday Life
Warehouse Next Door

Remaining performances:
Saturday, July 18th, 11:30p.m.
Sunday, July 19th, 6:00p.m.
Saturday, July 25th, 9:00p.m.
Sunday, July 26th, 3:00p.m.

They say: Winner of the presitigious Herald Angel Award at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Ed Hamell combines storytelling, comedy and songs into a brilliantly outrageous theatrical event covering the Beatles, odd jobs, his son's birth and the shocking death of his parents.

Brett's take: Phew. Wow. Okay: When, at the end of the show, Mr. Hamell says, "It ain't for everybody," he ain't kidding. It was for me; I think it should be for you; but there is definitely a demographic or two for whom this ain't. Political conservatives are one. Neat-clean-PC liberals are another.

"But wait," you say; "then who's left?" My friends, in this day and age we can sometimes forget there are more than just those two groups. Hamell is a representative of an oft-forgot type: the vulgar, in-yer-face, sex, drugs, rock n' roll liberal. An original glam rocker from the early 70's, Hamell has not yuppie-ized or lost his edge whatsoever. He looks and dresses like a snazzy jazz man, or a Beatnik, or your cool uncle who can drop references to the Lovin' Spoonful as quickly as to Wilco. He plays one heckuva mean amped-to-11, beat-up '37 Gibson acoustic punkabilly guitar and sings and talks in an unexpectedly high-pitched, fluid voice which somehow makes him seem much more honest than if he sported the gravelly thirty-years-of-booze voice you might expect.

There's little plot: Hamell races back and forth like a jackrabbit on speed from tongue-twisting observational spoken blues song to racy jokes to unapologetic politicking to surprisingly honest confessions. Although Hamell has a script, he constantly deviates from it, even cutting himself off mid-song to tell us something he was just reminded of; invariably, his extemporaneous aside is hilarious or insightful or both. He informs us that Martin Scorsese is more rock n' roll than Maroon 5. He sings a song about his love for part of the female anatomy, in which the chorus sounds like a play for the attention of a cat. He lets us know the show was originally based largely on anti-Bush diatribes (which is why the title no longer has much signficance), but now that the Presidency's changed hands we'll have to do with a dirty-yet-somehow-flattering Michelle Obama joke. He cuts immediately from his most hilariously off-color song to a blunt and shocking account (and it truly is) of the death of his parents—before going into a second song that almost celebrates it.

How often do you get the chance to absorb the wisdom of a guy who's seen it all (crack bars, John Lennon, a happy marriage and parenthood) and still retained both his anarchistic political convictions and his raunchy sense of humor? Judging by the award he received from the extremly picky Edinburgh Fringe—not so often indeed.

See it if: You need to get yourself shocked, thought-provoked, enlightened, entertained, challenged, or tickled pink. Or  you'd like to shout "Fuck it!" in chorus with an audience full of young and old.

Skip it if: When Hamell says, "I know my demographic," he's not talking about you—i.e., you can't deal your sensibilities towards Bush, euthanasia, feminism, casual drug use, Obama or music being offended.

  • Trey Graham

    Seriously, y'all. Dude was terrific. He does a throwaway 16-bar blues lick on that guitar that's got more pure-fantastic art in it than ... well, it's Fringe-afterglow time, so I won't name names.

    But he's the real deal, and he deserves all the buzz he got. Also the Directors' Award, bestowed by Julianne and Scot earlier tonight under the Baldacchino.

    Also: Keep an eye (and an ear) out for an NPR piece about performers who make a living traveling from fringefest to fringefest. We interviewed Ed for the Web-extra slideshow that'll go with it; story should be out sometime in mid-August.

  • Marjhan

    My favorite show this year! I guess word spread slowly about Ed Hamel during the Fringe as the last show was SRO at a small venue. Solid performance and timing - a well deserved standing O at the end. After one hour, we kind of felt like we were getting to the end of a good book that you really don't want to end. Let's hope Ed returns next year.

  • Sheffy

    "Hamell races back and forth like a jackrabbit on speed" is an understatement. He didn't pause for a breath in 60 straight minutes. He says he's clean (short of pounding monster energy drinks) but I wonder if traces of speed are still in his system from the good old days.

    His show is invigorating, but here's a warning: don't sit right behind the speakers unless you have earplugs or are hard of hearing already...

  • marianka

    a bracing hour - I needed that. just keeping up with his scatologically sophisticated topical flights is a mind massage.

  • Liz Page

    The feminists might not be too offended - he is on Ani DiFranco's record label, after all :)