Dave Attell has spent his life in comedy clubs. The 54-year-old (more on that later) is performing constantly — both alone and with Jeff Ross as part of their Bumping Mics tour — and says he hopes to put out one more hour special before he places the mic back in the stand for good. “That will be it, and then I’m gonna retire and sell timeshares.” Before that happens you can check him out at Foxwoods Resort Casino’s Fox Theater on Sept. 20.
I hear you’re a fan of playing casino gigs.
I go on the road now a lot — I’ve got a lot of bills — but I go around alone and I usually play clubs. When I’m with Jeff Ross for Bumping Mics, we play the theaters and casinos. And we really do love the casino shows because it’s a wilder crowd and they seem to really get what we do. But Foxwoods is definitely top notch. It’s one of the best.
So it’s not just because you can smoke cigarettes on stage?
I smoked on stage the other night. It was me, Jeff Ross and the Diceman. And Diceman doesn’t smoke anymore but he holds the cigarette, so it just kind of activated something in me.
In the intro of the Bumping Mics Netflix special you say it’s not a joke until a crowd laughs at it.
What if you know in your heart that it’s a great joke, but it just doesn’t land?
What I meant was, the crowd has to affirm what you’re doing. You can write all day long, but until you get it up in front of a crowd, it’s not really a joke. It’s just writing. For me it was always about, back in the day, writing, writing, writing all day long and then getting up on stage and seeing what worked. Then listen to the tape and then try to change it. It was like this big loop of really stressful self-hatred, a loop of just listening and bombing and listening and bombing.
You seem to have a tremendous amount of respect from your fellow comics.
I don’t take that for granted. You know, I’ve been out there pretty much every night. I don’t have a family or kids or anything like that so I guess you could say this is my life’s work to some degree, whether that’s good or bad.
I don’t know about that but I’ll tell you right now, 1965. I’m 54 years old, son.
It says circa 1964/1965.
Well it’s ’65, but if you want to make it ’64 that’s fine with me too. That was also a great year.
I just thought it was funny that half the stuff on Wikipedia isn’t even true and they still wouldn’t take a guess.
Thank you. Outside of stand-up, what’s the most fun you’ve had in your career?
I’ve done a couple of projects. People always bring up the Insomniac show. To this day that is my biggest credit, that’s kind of the one all these people know me from. But I would say I’m really a stand-up, a club comic. Dave’s Old Porn was probably one of my most favorite things because that was something I self-produced and I sold it to Showtime. Then I tried to sell it again but in the world we live in now where porn is really considered a hate crime, it’s kinda hard to get it out there again. As a comic I like to still think that I’m getting funnier, but I don’t consider myself relevant to the times. I just like looking for the jokes.
If I’m in New York City for a week, what’s my best chance for seeing an A-list comic do an unannounced set? Where do I go? Which day?
During the week at the Comedy Cellar, the middle show, like the 10 o’clock or whatever it is show, that one is usually where Judd Apatow will come down, Jimmy Carr, [Dave] Chappelle usually goes on later because he has On Broadway. But all the guys and ladies that are big A-list comics, if they’re in town they’ll usually go on the first or second show during the week.
Do you have any ties to Connecticut?
Yeah, my sister lives there. When I was in the Scouts we went to the Groton Naval Base, the submarine base, that was a big experience for me, a lot of fun. I would say Connecticut doesn’t get enough attention because people are too busy trying to drive through it.
I don’t mean to get morbid, but which stand-up do you miss the most?
There’s the ones I know, like [Greg] Giraldo. The one comic that I never got to see live that I really still regret never seeing was Sam Kinison, because I really do feel that he is an underrated comic in our times, and that he, to me, does everything right. He was fearless, I’m talking before he was super famous where he became kind of like this ringmaster of a circus show. He did have an ego and an attitude, but he was just so strong.
Sept. 20 | 8 p.m.
Foxwoods | Mashantucket