“Mountain Girl,” the B-side to the Insane Clown Posse, JEFF the Brotherhood, Mozart and Jack White’s titanic collaboration “Leck Mich Im Arse,” has finally leaked to YouTube and, to the surprise of nobody with a sense of humor, it’s actually pretty good. Not that “Mountain Girl” is a lyrical miracle, but it finds Violent J surprisingly at home among honky tonk guitar twangs and cowboy narration. Given that ICP are the kings of a very odd set of rednecks, it’s less jarring to hear them rapping over country music than something decidedly more operatic, but Jack White’s formula for trolling the critical establishment remains intact: One part respected genre, one part divisive figure, one part reviled artist. Shake well and watch heads explode.
I can’t help but compare this to the efforts of fringe comedian Neil Hamburger, whose album Sings Country Winners isn’t exactly the sort of thing you’d expect from a guy whose act involves turning the audience against him (read: it’s quite good). A few years ago, I saw Hamburger open for Tenacious D. Sweaty and carrying an armload of water-filled glasses he’d never drink from, Hamburger warbled and coughed his way through jokes about Britney Spears’ shaved head and Janet Jackson’s nipples long past their cultural sell-by dates until the crowd grew tired of it and demanded he leave the stage.
“You cocksuckers are never going to see Tenacious D at this point,” Hamburger taunted, going right into another joke. That’s his act, and people who get it can appreciate it for what it is and be entertained for whatever it’s worth. People suckered by him, however, are not just the subject of his particular brand of humor, but they’re unable to enjoy something as charming as his cover of “Jug Town,” where a wistful son remembers how his dad would “hug his little neck” before heading to the local bar to drown his sorrows (perhaps caused by Hamburger himself) in a jug of wine.
White’s act here is a lot like Hamburger’s. He knows the reaction is going to be “He killed the White Stripes for this?” but carries on, content to laugh with everybody else who’s in on the joke.
He may be laughing alone, but I suspect he’s just fine with that.