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After-hours guru Dave Attell cracks up Colorado

click to enlarge Its all cigs and chuckles with Dave Attell.
  • Its all cigs and chuckles with Dave Attell.

Dave Attell is nervous. The last time the comedian came to Colorado, he opened for fellow Comedy Central denizen Lewis Black. This time, he's the headliner.

"It's very scary," he says. "It's a lot of pressure. If it doesn't sell out, it's because of me."

As host of Comedy Central's wildly popular Insomniac, Attell introduces viewers to all walks of beer-soaked after-hours nightlife -- sex workers, sewage technicians, Philly cheesesteak slingers. For a guy who prides himself on being a regular-Joe type, the leap from working as an abrasive stand-up comedian to hosting a television show has been a lesson in celebrity -- revealing that it's not all babes and tomfoolery.

"Sure, it's fun being on the road, and it's fun being on the bus and everything, but there's so much fuckwork to do," Attell says. "There's a lot of press and details, so you can never really take a break."

Attell had to be schooled in biz basics. Along the tour, he's been frustrated to find that shirts, DVDs and other promo merchandise often don't make it to the show due to shipping mishaps.

"I learned that if you're going to sell stuff after the show, make sure it shows up," he says. "I really learned all UPS and shipping on this tour. ... It's not as fun as it looks on 'The King of Queens. '"

Many Insomniac fans are surprised at how provocative Attell's stand-up is. On the show, he's on the street, talking with folks, always hilarious and often sarcastic, but never disrespectful. His live shows are raucous, to say the least. A snippet: "Yeah, I know, some people are against drunk driving, and I call those people 'the cops.' But you know, sometimes, you've just got no choice; those kids gotta get to school!"

As Attell's popularity grows, he's increasingly considered a round-the-clock good-time fella.

"People think I'm a party guy all the time, even at 10 in the morning. They ask, 'Why aren't you drinking?'" he says. "I'm partly that person, but I turn it off. It'd be really annoying if I was that guy all the time. Actually, I think there was a guy like that. His name was Chris Farley, and he died."

Unfortunately and ironically, the popularity of Insomniac means the show probably can't go on forever. It's growing harder to capture candid material on camera, especially with people screaming the host's name in the streets.

In the meantime, Attell's got a comedy tour to finish. Another lesson he's learned is that touring in a rock 'n roll bus doesn't necessarily mean you're living the rock 'n roll lifestyle. Touring doesn't leave much time for hooking up with the lovely ladies, and bling isn't exactly dripping from the ceiling.

"We're on a bus, so it's like a rock band, but sort of like the worst rock band ever," he says. "We're just watching Star Wars and eating donuts."

-- Kara Luger

capsule

Dave Attell: The Insomniac Tour

Thursday, June 23, 8 p.m.

The Fillmore Auditorium, 1510 Clarkson St., Denver

Tickets: $29.50; visit any Ticketmaster outlet or call 520-9090.

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