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The Daily Tar Heel

'Insomniac' Comedian Gets Down and Dirty

Four Stars

Sometimes, you just have to tell it like it is.

Dave Attell, host of Comedy Central's "Insomniac," isn't afraid to speak rawly and without reserve. Nothing is taboo with Attell, who performed Friday at Raleigh's Charlie Goodnight's Comedy Club before a crowd that was at capacity and then some.

From the hypnotic appeal of a dog's penis to his midget friend, affectionately named "Baby Shoes," Attell kept the crowd shocked but laughing. His uncensored honesty about his personal life and twisted thought processes was a refreshingly genuine shot of vulgar hilarity.

"There is a southern feel for fun here," Attell said. "They like it down and dirty, and everyone is so intelligent that it is kind of intimidating."

But Attell proved that he could run with the best of them. He took what could have been offensive ' sexist stereotypes, quirks of relationships, lewd allusions to every orifice on the human body -- and shoved it right in the faces of crowd members. Everything was so ridiculous and raunchy that there was never any doubt he was joking -- he was just having a good time like everybody else.

Attell bounced between subjects with a seemingly random flow that felt more like a train wreck than a stand-up routine -- but it worked. His transitions were as strange and unconventional as saying, "Let's talk about this," or pretending the audience was talking to him and saying, "What? More about masturbation? OK."

Attell even went so far as to testify that the fat around his belly was, like a tattoo, a statement about himself.

"It can even answer questions. If someone asked, 'Hey Dave, do you want to go for a bike ride?' then you just know I don't," he said, pulling up his shirt and pinching his personal proclamation.

Moving from his interesting theories on the importance of fecal matter in keeping the mystery alive in a relationship to the dangers of answering the phone while cleaning your ears, Attell seldom had a logical flow of thoughts. He was just up on stage, bantering with the crowd and telling funny stories about life.

"I like to be raw," he said. "But I know that the people here know that I have the right attitude and am joking. That makes it easy for me to have a lot more fun."

And Attell apparently had a great time as he stood on stage before the cheers of the crowd. But when he started to get a little too comfortable, the show slipped.

After a solid hour of witty, lewd and fast-paced humor, Attell ran out of jokes and began talking with the crowd, waiting for the tabs to roll in. What had been tear-jerking, nonstop gut pain quickly deteriorated into bored expectation, searching for the next joke.

He dragged the show on a little too long and got a little too relaxed -- but that is also what makes him so funny. He is real, intense and not afraid to voice every sick thought that pops in his head.

The Arts & Entertainment Editor can be reached at

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