If Dave Attell ever retires, as he has periodically hinted for years, what will become of club comedy?
Comics will still work clubs, of course. But in an era when the savvy career move is to diversify into podcasts and video while playing a variety of rooms, Attell, 54, is the rare elite stand-up who advertises himself, with a mixture of pride and self-deprecation, as simply a club comic. More important: No one alive makes a better argument for the aesthetic of New York club comedy, with its tussling crowd work, quick setups and ruthless punch lines that go for the gut.
For 32 years, he has performed nearly every night of the week, making him a longer-running fixture in this city than “The Phantom of the Opera,” and one that has aged better, although you might not know it at first glance.
On a cold weeknight this month at the Comedy Cellar, where he often appears on the late show, he walked onstage looking rumpled, sporting a baggy winter coat and a headwear situation that resembled a Russian nesting doll: After removing a hoodie that covered his customary black baseball cap, which he took off to reveal yet another hat, he began his set with a knowing quip: “I look like I just came here to get warm.”
Attell has been describing himself like this for decades. “I have a gym in my building,” he said in his 1996 HBO half-hour. “Does anyone else live in the Y?”
Attell actually has had a successful showbiz career, which includes host of cult shows on Comedy Central (“Insomniac”) and Showtime (“Dave’s Old Porn”), along with brief stints on “The Daily Show” and “Saturday Night Live.” But he’s more revered by peers than the public. He has never put out specials as frequently as he could have. His easygoing double act, “Bumping Mics” with Jeff Ross, which debuted last fall on Netflix, was his first release since 2014.
What Attell does best doesn’t lead to fame and fortune these days. It’s not just that he’s an old-school performer in a media landscape biased toward novelty and provocation. Making noise in the crowded comedy scene today means going personal, political or controversial. Attell generally avoids all three. You can watch him for hours and learn next to nothing about his life or his deepest convictions outside an abiding faith in punchy jokes.
He has one of the quickest minds in comedy, and gently insulting audiences is critical to his act, adding tension, unpredictability and a change of pace. At a terrific 90-minute or so show in December at Caroline’s, where I sat in the front row, he treated me like a speed bag, jabbing me with punch lines about my glasses (“Isaac Asimov’s grandson”), posture (“Stephen Hawking’s stunt double”) and snack-food preference. When I said rice cracker, he responded, “What’s your favorite porn — homework?”
At his core, Attell is a high-octane, no-frills joke machine, a delivery system for punch lines, some improvised, but a vast majority rigorously honed. With a compulsive work ethic, he tests the same jokes for years, tweaking words repeatedly to find the funniest sound. He doesn’t add many act-outs to sell a line or weave bits into a story to build comic momentum. If you transcribe his jokes and read them aloud flatly, they remain funny.
His comedy doesn’t carry a message, but it does have a specific mood and texture that has shifted over the years. He built his reputation on a dirty and dissolute image, focusing on sex toys, drinking and ornate literary descriptions of testicles. (My favorite might be when he compared them to a “tent no one knows how to fold up.”)
If you listen closely to his 2014 Comedy Central special, “Road Work,” you can hear the roots of some of the button-pushing humor of Louis C.K., albeit in quicker form. “Ever do a bunch of mushrooms, think you’re having a pillow fight, but it turns out to be a live baby,” goes one joke.
Attell isn’t as raunchy as he once was. As he has gotten older, he has added more jokes about food and pets. He will still predict how a night might end for audience members based on what they’re drinking, but now that he’s sober, there aren’t as many punch lines about Jägermeister.
He has his off nights, and his crowd work can be tentative. (Jeff Ross is a good match, prodding him to take more risks.) But there are moments when I see Attell perform that I think he is only now entering his prime, something this famously self-critical comic would probably disagree with.
Stick around long enough, and you acquire a certain gravitas, no matter how ragged and unpretentious you may be. Attell is far too wedded to the economical structure of hard jokes to veer off into the poetic flourishes of Dave Chappelle, and he seems to have little interest in waging culture wars.
But see him perform enough, and a theme emerges: close attention paid to the lonely and overlooked figures of our society, particularly in an unforgiving city. He has a wonderful bit imagining the guy who sells fruit on Sixth Avenue at 4 a.m. and another extended metaphor in which he pictures himself carrying a lantern through a thick fog, saying “fog things” like “Friend or foe?”
His material has the landscape of a Tom Waits song, crusty and cynical, inspiring bleak laughter that sounds as if it might turn into a cough at any moment. Attell has built a comic world that perfectly fits the character he has long played onstage, one with a past he can plumb for a few extra laughs.
Around midnight at the Comedy Cellar another night this month, Attell invited his audience to imagine the loneliness of a worker making Subway sandwiches in an empty restaurant. After setting the scene more economically than I have, with him waiting for his food, he describes watching this employee and deciding to make “his smallest dream come true.”
With a conspiratorial glance to one side, he said, “Take the gloves off.” Then he hit the audience with two more punch lines, instructing this sad sack to live his best life. “Raw dog it. Put the mayonnaise wherever you want.”
Like New York itself, Dave Attell is not as dirty as he used to be, but he can still make a joke about cold cuts sound deliriously filthy.B:
【这】【让】DF【战】【队】【越】【发】【处】【于】【劣】【势】。 【而】【逐】【梦】【战】【队】【则】【是】【越】【战】【越】【勇】。 【不】【仅】【上】【中】【路】【曾】【分】【别】【单】【杀】【对】【面】，【而】【且】【在】【接】【下】【来】【的】【小】【龙】【团】【中】【还】【打】【出】【两】【波】【漂】【亮】【的】【团】【战】，【抢】【下】【了】【一】【条】【水】【龙】【和】【土】【龙】。 【作】【为】【打】【野】【的】【冯】【括】【尽】【管】【在】【后】【来】【的】【刷】【野】【中】，【经】【济】【优】【势】【逐】【渐】【跟】【上】，【但】【还】【是】【抵】【不】【过】【宁】【元】。 【单】【凭】【她】【一】【人】【就】【拉】【开】【了】【与】DF【战】【队】【的】【三】【千】【的】【经】【济】，【这】【相】
【完】【本】【了】，【心】【情】【很】【复】【杂】。 【就】【像】【曹】【吾】【一】【样】，【心】【中】【有】【千】【言】【万】【语】，【却】【不】【知】【从】【何】【讲】【起】。 【从】【去】【年】12【月】18【日】【发】【书】，【到】【今】【天】【为】【止】，【九】【个】【月】【零】【十】【天】，【一】【百】【一】【十】【万】【字】，【我】【总】【算】【还】【算】【完】【整】【的】【讲】【了】【一】【个】【故】【事】。 【我】【写】【这】【本】【书】【的】【初】【衷】【很】【简】【单】，【就】【是】【想】【推】【荐】【一】【些】【自】【己】【喜】【欢】【的】【歌】【给】【大】【家】。 【起】【点】【有】【很】【多】【娱】【乐】【文】，【但】【写】【摇】【滚】【的】，【写】【乐】【队】【的】【却】
【不】【出】【所】【料】，【是】【乡】【下】【来】【的】。【没】【有】【视】【力】【很】【难】【成】【为】【伟】【大】【的】【工】【具】!【值】【班】【人】【员】【思】【考】。 “【很】【长】【一】【段】【时】【间】?”【辛】【文】【林】【笑】【着】【问】，【声】【音】【温】【柔】，【不】【摆】【架】【子】。【首】【先】，【如】【果】【以】【资】【历】【为】【基】【础】，【他】【几】【乎】【和】【苏】【州】、【杭】【州】【一】【样】，【都】【是】【三】【代】【同】【堂】【的】【孩】【子】。【其】【次】，【辛】【文】【林】【对】【弟】【弟】【有】【一】【种】【同】【情】，【弟】【弟】【比】【他】【小】【得】【多】，【却】【永】【远】【不】【可】【能】【成】【为】【核】【心】。【第】【三】，【他】【欣】【赏】【苏】【州】【和】马会营业时间“【听】【不】【懂】？【啧】，【这】【大】【概】【是】【我】【来】【到】【这】【里】【之】【后】，【听】【到】【的】【最】【好】【笑】【的】【笑】【话】【了】。”【洛】【琼】【意】【味】【深】【长】【的】【对】【着】【廖】【婷】【婷】【笑】【了】。 【她】【完】【全】【没】【想】【到】，【这】【个】【妖】【灵】【夺】【舍】【了】【廖】【婷】【婷】【的】【身】【体】【也】【就】【罢】【了】，【竟】【然】【还】【敢】【来】【招】【惹】【她】。 【当】【然】，【会】【招】【惹】【她】【无】【所】【谓】，【但】【是】【用】【这】【样】【的】【手】【段】，【当】【真】【是】【有】【些】【让】【她】【无】【语】【至】【极】，【如】【果】【她】【没】【感】【受】【错】【误】【的】【话】，【对】【方】【这】【是】【想】【用】【女】【人】【之】【间】
【是】【夜】，【杭】【州】【兵】【营】。 【除】【几】【队】【巡】【逻】【兵】【丁】【外】，【一】【片】【鼾】【声】【此】【起】【彼】【伏】。 【袁】【飞】【观】【摩】【多】【时】，【早】【见】【几】【队】【兵】【众】，【往】【返】【一】【处】【营】【房】【取】【披】【挂】【操】【练】，【料】【想】【军】【械】【藏】【在】【此】【处】，【趁】【着】【夜】【黑】【悄】【悄】【摸】【来】。 【库】【房】【内】【漆】【黑】【一】【片】，【不】【见】【光】【影】，【袁】【飞】【化】【风】【入】【内】，【依】【稀】【见】【一】【守】【夜】【兵】【勇】【躺】【在】【尽】【头】【鼾】【睡】。 【轻】【声】【蹑】【脚】，【往】【一】【旁】【兵】【器】【架】【看】【去】，【一】【排】【长】【矛】【排】【列】【整】【齐】，【下】
【醒】【来】【的】【时】【候】，【外】【面】【的】【天】【已】【经】【很】【亮】【了】。 【南】【又】【安】【习】【惯】【性】【的】【叫】【了】【一】【份】【外】【卖】，【接】【着】【他】【就】【下】【床】【开】【始】【洗】【漱】，【只】【不】【过】【洗】【漱】【到】【后】【面】【的】【时】【候】，【南】【又】【安】【就】【隐】【隐】【路】few【有】【些】【不】【对】【劲】【了】，【总】【感】【觉】【家】【里】【似】【乎】【多】【了】【一】【个】【人】，【也】【不】【知】【道】【是】【不】【是】【他】【的】【幻】【觉】。 【但】【是】【南】【又】【安】【的】【目】【光】【停】【留】【在】【后】【面】【的】【门】【上】，【却】【没】【太】【过】【于】【注】【意】【门】【外】【的】【景】【象】。【目】【光】【似】【乎】【是】【不】【聚】【焦】
【瓦】【里】【安】【虽】【然】【认】【为】【自】【己】【足】【够】【聪】【明】，【但】【这】【个】【理】【由】【明】【显】【不】【够】。 “【萨】【尔】，【或】【许】【你】【可】【以】【换】【个】【说】【法】【说】【服】【我】，【如】【果】【你】【无】【法】【让】【我】【信】【服】，【我】【不】【建】【议】【杀】【死】【你】，【反】【正】【不】【过】【是】【一】【死】【罢】【了】。” 【瓦】【里】【安】【提】【着】【宝】【剑】，【面】【上】【涌】【出】【浓】【重】【的】【煞】【气】。 【萨】【尔】【吓】【得】【满】【头】【大】【汗】，【低】【声】【下】【气】【道】： “【等】【等】，【瓦】【里】【安】，【不】【要】【冲】【动】，【你】【根】【本】【不】【明】【白】【月】【神】【艾】【露】【恩】【的】【可】