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A tour worth standing up late for

June 23, 2005|Mark Sachs | Times Staff Writer

The insomniac is back.

Dave Attell, the intrepid explorer who for nearly four years has taken basic-cable viewers into the milieu of after-midnight city life at points around the globe, arrives in town Saturday at the Wiltern LG to headline a show with much better hours than he's used to.

"Comedy Central Live Presents Dave Attell: The Insomniac Tour" allows the Bronx native to kick things off at the relatively cock-a-doodle-dooish hour of 7 p.m. with a show that also features comic Dane Cook.

Attell's talents have been a work in progress for nearly two decades, but with the "Insomniac" TV show and strong demand on the concert circuit as well as for his series' DVDs, he's hitting on all cylinders now.

"I think it was Richard Lewis who said that it takes a comedian about seven years to figure out what exactly it is that he does," Attell, 40, said. "I'm a straight-ahead joke comic, if anything. I'm not political, I don't hypnotize anybody, and I don't do characters or balloon animals. I just do what I do and hope there's an audience for it.

"Thanks to 'Insomniac' on Comedy Central I've been able to headline shows all over the country. I'd shoot the shows and then go out on the road. But for the last two years I've been doing different kinds of shows, hooking up with people like Lewis Black and Mitch Hedberg. That takes a lot of the pressure off me and makes it more fun. I'm a team player."

Noting the recent death of the 37-year-old Hedberg and the reported career apprehensions of Comedy Central colleague Dave Chappelle, Attell acknowledged that there are aspects of the comedy game that are nothing to laugh at.

"I'm taking a break after this tour because there's always that pressure to come up with new material," he said. "People pay a lot of money to see your new show, but comedy is one of the few art forms, if you want to call it that, in which people are disappointed if they hear what they came to hear. You can't tell the same jokes they saw you do on TV or on your last tour. When you go to see the Stones in concert, you expect them to do 'Jumping Jack Flash,' but for comedians, it's the total opposite of that."

Attell also points out that comedians who do characters, such as Chappelle, have a different dilemma.

"He almost can't get a thought out before someone in the crowd is screaming out for him to do Rick James," Attell said. "That can be tough."

Attell, who is single and makes his home on Long Island, has had a more gradual career arc. Growing up in New York, he admired the stand-up work of Bill Hicks, Sam Kinison and local favorites such as Colin Quinn. Yet when asked which comic most influenced his developing style, "Neil Armstrong" is the name mentioned.

"And I also think Michael Jackson and I would make a nice team," he adds.

Attell's stand-up work landed him on the old David Letterman show more than a decade ago, and since then he's had guest spots on such sitcoms as "Everybody Loves Raymond," "Ed" and "Arrested Development." His appearances on "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" and his after-hours interviews with all manner of colorful characters of the night on "Insomniac" helped him make Entertainment Weekly's "25 Funniest People" list.

Even he's not sure where his talents will land him next.

"My goal isn't necessarily to have a network sitcom," he said. "I just want to keep doing funny stuff, and if that's on TV, great. Comedy Central has been good in taking comics and letting them do what they want to do."

The "Insomniac Tour," which has featured a rotating roster of comedians joining Attell that has included Cook, Greg Giraldo, Sean Rouse, Doug Stanhope and others, winds up July 4 weekend in Las Vegas with Cook and Giraldo. Those shows will be edited into a two-hour special to air in October on Comedy Central.


Dave Attell, with Dane Cook

Where: Wiltern LG, 3790 Wilshire Blvd., L.A.

When: 7 p.m. Saturday

Price: $47.50

Info: (213) 380-5005

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