Island Burgers & Shakes – not a desert island meal.

You can’t go home again, says Thomas Wolfe. Either home changes, or you change. I returned to Island Burgers & Shakes after seeing The Colbert Report this week, and I’m not sure which of us has changed, but I couldn’t go home again.

They make a decent burger, but it pales in comparison with many in the city, including cheaper fare like the legendary Shake Shack and HB Burger, or the nearby Five Napkin Burger. They still shine in their selection of toppings, excellent pickles, and soothing, decadent shakes, but after sampling more of what the city has to offer in the burger department, they are decidedly middling.

The issue is not the size- they make a hefty patty, and put a good sear on it. But the meat is so bland that it fades into the crowd of toppings. This time I had a Top & Pop’s with Thai peanut sauce, raw jalapenos and roasted peppers on a ciabatta roll. Last time the sourdough bread and sesame seed buns disintegrated around the juicy burger so I opted for a more robust roll; the bottom still got so soaked it was threatening to fall apart, so I ate it upside down.

A burger ought to be juicy, but the meat needs flavor to carry the meal, and this was lacking. I tried Firecracker’s in case mine was a fluke, but no. Drossarian tried the Napalm Burger with habanero sauce, and liked his. Beast had a chicken churasco which she loved, and it did look good. Oddly enough, Island Burgers may be a better destination for a chicken churasco and a milkshake than a burger. If I go again, I’ll have the chicken. As you can see, it was Beast approved:

I compared the flavor with similarly priced burgers like HB Burger– who use Pat LaFrieda beef- and there’s no contest. Island Burger needs a better meat mix to stay in the running. Game over man, game over.

© 2010 Thomas Pluck.

The Colbert Report

Stephen Colbert is one of my heroes. He was my favorite part of The Daily Show, and I was happily surprised when he got his own show. Its rampant success amazed me, for satire is not always appreciated in American culture, but he did it. His show continues to raise the bar for television comedy and news, going places that “real” news shows won’t dare. He keeps his principles and uses his character to fight for them, and after the Presidential Correspondents’ dinner with George W. Bush, you know he’s pretty much got the biggest balls of any comedian on the planet. As influential Lenny Bruce without the heroin addiction, if you ask me. I got tickets to his show by following them on Facebook and jumping when they were available. As you can see, I have ticket #57, so that’s my Wesley Snipes face:
That’s Drossarian behind me. We have a trick camera that does the reverse effect of how they made Gandalf look so much taller than the hobbits in Lord of the Rings, so we can be in the same frame. He is actually 8 feet tall. Firecracker and “Beast” Katie East filled out our group. We waited quite a while for Stephen and crew to get ready, because they had to set up a crazy harem tent that would be used for a gag later. We got to watch the warm-up comic whose name I forget, but he was very good. He’s a local NYC comedian who should say his name more often. He was very good at poking fun at audience members without being unnecessarily cruel, even when they are named “Dong.” Now that’s talent. He did call our two gals “bitchy” because they kept yelling about Steel Magnolias being a play before it was a movie. He didn’t know that movie is sacred to Louisiana ladies.
I met Stephen in the lobby. He was in character, but felt a little flat. He must have had a rough night. Before the show, he does a Q&A session out of character. He was very gracious and funny, answering questions and reciting anecdotes. I wanted to ask if he’d do voice work for the Venture Bros. show again, but I didn’t get chosen. His wife came to the show and was watching from the sidelines. What I like most about Mr. Colbert is not just that he’s funny, but that he’s genuine and has principles. I love when you can see them sneaking through his character and he has to nail someone that “Stephen” would love but that he personally disagrees with vehemently. He’s very fast on his feet and like myself, has no dignity; anything for a joke. He had 11 siblings to compete with, I was a firstborn, so what’s my excuse?
This was one of the better episodes in recent memory, with a pun so bad that he made himself fight a minotaur and conquer a harem for uttering it. He also calls Stephen Hawking an “a-hole,” goes after Fox News”s attempts to make the Goldman-Sachs CEO seem like a regular guy, and interviews author Conn Iggulden, who wrote The Dangerous Book for Boys, and his newest, The Dangerous Book of Heroes. You can see us in the audience when the mascot fires the t-shirt cannon; I’m in the red striped shirt to the right of the gal who caught the first shirt, clapping my hands off. If I’d been paying attention, I would have tackled her for it. Katie caught one of many WristStrong bracelets that Stephen shot into the audience, so we didn’t go home empty-handed. Or empty-hearted; these memories will last a lifetime, and I’ll tell my grandchildren I saw Stephen Colbert defeat a minotaur.

Here’s a screencap thanks to Julie, who is far more patient than I! The clip follows, and a link to the full episode is at the bottom of the post.]

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Stephen Hawking Is Such an A-Hole
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor Fox News

Watch the Full Episode on Comedy Central.

© 2010 Thomas Pluck.