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All night long
Insomniac Dave Attell brings his stage show to Boston
Related Links

Dave Attell's official Web site

Mike Miliard talks with Dave Attell.

So, is Dave Attell, the fast-talking star of Comedy Centralís Insomniac with Dave Attell, an actual insomniac?

"Yes sir," the Queens native says over the phone, in the early afternoon, between audible sips of coffee. "Iím a hang-out-in-the-airport-all-night kind of guy."

Also, as fans of his four-year series know, a hang-out-in-bars-all-night kind of guy. Fueled by alcohol and the perpetually itchy funnybone that sparks his bawdy humor, Attell has led his camera crew through a series of American and European cities in search of where the action is after most people are in bed. Heís hung out with Myrtle Beach bikers, had his arm chewed by Army attack dogs, visited the underworld with coal miners, worked with a homicide clean-up crew, and visited sex clubs where zaftigs with pointy filed teeth lead leather-clad fantasists around by their nipple rings. All in a nightís work.

"I used to say it was ĎGirls Gone Wildí for drunks, or an American Idol for losers," says Attell, whoís coming to Avalon for a night of stand-up comedy this Wednesday. "It was a travel show, but itís like you didnít really go anywhere. These are the kind of places you find in your home town: all-night diners, the sewage-treatment plant. And it really caught on ó especially with the drunks."

The show also propelled Attell to the top of the ladder. After 18 years of stand-up, heís now a major attraction touring behind two uncensored volumes of Insomniac on DVD and his debut CD, Skanks for the Memories (all on the Comedy Central imprint). Heís even credited as Insomniacís writer, though he scoffs at that title. "Do you really call that writing? I pick a town and send the research people out: ĎFind me a sex club, find me a steel mill.í And then itís pretty freewheeling. I never had a desire to write comedy. I always liked stand-up. Itís been a long haul for me, but now the audience is there and Iím getting recognized for what I do. Writingís cool, but thereís no glory in it."

Then again, he has a posting on www.daveattell.com that reads: "Iíve been getting a lot of e-mail from aspiring comedians who want to break into the exciting world of stand-up comedy and want my advice. Well, if you want to spend your life going from airport to club to strip club to ATM back to strip club and then masturbating in a hotel room, then this is the career for you." Itís that mix of ego gratification and self-depreciation that makes his humor warm and human, even at its most caustic.

Now that Insomniac is behind him, Attell is planning to make a performance film in Las Vegas in July, at the end of his tour. Heíll be joined by Dane Cook and Greg Giraldo, other Comedy Central regulars. "Weíre trying to piggyback on the success of the Blue Collar thing," he says, referring to the Jeff FoxworthyĖhelmed TV show. Heís also got a small role in a sit-com pilot for Fox.

In a sense, Insomniac with Dave Attell snuffed its own flame. The show became so well known, it got tough for Attell and his crew to capture people acting naturally. "A lot of the towns in America start to look the same after a while, and people started to look too TV-ready, so it did start to look like auditions for American Idol."

So, whatís his take on Boston?

"Bostonís a great town. People there love to party. Whenever I do a show in town, itís so much fun, but the town is so early. Itís a 2 a.m. town, very Puritan there. And you canít smoke inside. But itís also a college town, and youíve got a lot of cool history, so itís a fun place.

"And you guys do drink."

Dave Attell with opener Dane Cook performs this Wednesday, April 27, at Avalon, 13 Lansdowne Street in Boston; call (617) 262-2424, or visit www.cc.com

Issue Date: April 22 - 28, 2005
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