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Dave Attell is a ‘Comedian’s Comedian’

He admitted that his original motivation to perform stand-up comedy was attributed to his indecisiveness as to what he should do after college. Graduating from New York University with a degree in film and television, Dave Attell said he realized he’d probably never go on to become an actor or a director.

Dave Attell is a ‘Comedian’s Comedian’

He admitted that his original motivation to perform stand-up comedy was attributed to his indecisiveness as to what he should do after college. Graduating from New York University with a degree in film and television, Dave Attell said he realized he’d probably never go on to become an actor or a director.“And so that’s when I started hanging around comedy clubs in New York during open-mic nights, although I never thought I’d actually become a comic either,” said Attell, 47, who did become a performer and will appear at the Helium Comedy Club on Sansom Street in Center City this Friday and Saturday.During the late 1980s, Attell worked at menial jobs during the day and at comedy clubs on nights and weekends.“I was a kind of a loner, a shy kind of kid who could make his inner circle of friends laugh,” he recalled. “So that’s what sort of kept me going. At home, I loved listening to the records of comics like George Carlin, and I couldn’t stop laughing myself. I loved to laugh, but it took a long time to convince people I was a comic.”After years of honing his craft, and “totally bombing often,” he eventually found himself being described as a “comedian’s comedian.” And while audience members didn’t always follow his delivery, fellow comedians were refreshed by his originality.One of his biggest breaks came in 1993 when he made his first appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman. That appearance was seen by Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels, who recruited Attell to be a writer and occasional performer. He gladly accepted, and two years later found himself featured on two HBO specials, with a half-hour comedy special all his own in 1997.But perhaps he is best known as the host of his own show titled Insomniac with Dave Attell, which ran from 2001 to ’04 on Comedy Central. For that show, Attell went to a particular city at night, starting out with a minute or so of his performance at a comedy club, and then to various bars, landmarks, clubs and so on. The thrill of the show revolved around the bizarre denizens of the night that he encountered, mostly while wandering cities in America and abroad.During most interviews, Attell said he is asked about that part of his life, but never gets tired of talking about it.“To be honest,” he said, “it was such an easy show to do, that there’s not much to talk about. But I do talk about it over and over and over again. It’s kind of my Abu Ghraib prison.“The point is,” he added, “that I came up with the idea for the show, which originally was just supposed to be a fun travel show. It was totally unscripted, with the whole idea behind it being that no one sleeps.”In 2008, Attell began hosting another show, The Gong Show with Dave Attell for Comedy Central. Like the 1970s version, the show had a rotating panel of celebrity judges grading unusual people and their acts — something that Attell was more than familiar with.Today, Attell is the creator and host of Dave’s Old Porn on Showtime, featuring legends of the adult industry, along with such talents as Chelsea Handler, Adam Carolla and Daniel Tosh, who discuss the flicks. The second season will begin airing this fall.Still, he admitted, he loves doing stand-up and appearing at comedy clubs around the country.“Over the years, I’ve been in four films, but I’m not an actor, and I’m not a very good sitcom guy — as producers come to find out,” he said. “Of course, if something came along, I’d jump on it, but I love just being out there, being funny and entertaining people. For me, that’s the best.” For show times and ticket information, call 215-496-9001.

At the Movies: ‘The Watch’ is a comedy that misses its mark

I tend to believe The Watch would have quickly floated in and out of theaters with little notice if its name hadn’t been changed from Neighborhood Watch in May. That’s because the studio execs at 20th Century Fox didn’t want moviegoers to associate it with the headline-grabbing Trayvon Martin case. That name change (along with pulling some promotional materials from theaters) helped give this movie some press it otherwise would not have had.The commercials make it seem like The Watch is a modern day Ghostbusters. Well, it’s not even close. The similarities are there with a group of guys joining together to defend against an alien invasion. Let’s just say, if there’s something strange in the neighborhood, I’m think it’s safe to assume I’m not gonna call the guys from The Watch.Ben Stiller is Evan, the manager at Costco, who decides to start a neighborhood watch group after the murder of his overnight security guard. Side note: I hope Costco coughed up a lot of money for as many times as the company was featured or mentioned. I would have much rather preferred that Evan worked at a generic warehouse store rather than seeing 20 exterior Costco shots (I didn’t count, but it certainly seemed like that many). And since I just mentioned them three times, where’s my check?Evan is able to recruit bored married guy Bob (Vince Vaughn), police officer reject Franklin (Jonah Hill) and new guy in town Jamarcus (Richard Ayoade) to join his squad of crime chasers. Obviously, they initially assume the culprit is human, but soon learn their suburban Ohio town is inhabited by aliens that plan to take over the world.I grew quite annoyed with Vaughn’s incessant sex jokes (in particular his jokes about a certain male body part). That loud, raunchy guy act may have seemed new and funny in Wedding Crashers, but seven years later, it’s just tired.Stiller seemed kind of bored with it all, and, as the character that supposedly has the strongest moral fiber, he makes some fairly boneheaded decisions.Hill’s had some recent successes with movies like Moneyball and 21 Jump Street, but he also recently missed the mark with The Sitter, and I expect The Watch to similarly be one of his forgotten flicks.It’s British actor Ayoade (who many Americans may not be familiar with) that gets most of the laughs. I’d recommend checking out Ayoade in the British show, The IT Crowd, where he plays a socially awkward computer nerd. He’s hilarious in that.Surprisingly, two of the movie’s writers, Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg, brought audiences the much funnier and more memorable Superbad and Pineapple Express. There’s a third credited writer (Jared Stern), but I’m not quite sure we’ll be seeing any more flicks from this writing trio, as Stern’s IMDB profile doesn’t show any upcoming releases.Ultimately, The Watch is paralyzed by its lazy storytelling, overuse of unfunny sex jokes that have nothing to do with the plot and three out of four actors using their same shtick to play basically the same roles we’ve seen time and time again. Movie Grade: D