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Comedian Dave Attell is back with a new special and series (interview)

"Road Work" airs on Saturday, April 12 at midnight on Comedy Central
"Road Work" airs on Saturday, April 12 at midnight on Comedy Central
Comedy Central

After a long, harsh winter, it's finally April, and you know what means – it's Stand Up Month! What better way to celebrate a whole month of hilarity than with a brand new special from comedian Dave Attell?

Premiering uncensored on Saturday, April 12 at midnight on Comedy Central, “Dave Attell: Road Work” features multiple performances from the veteran comic’s most recent tour, and was shot documentary style, almost like a concert film. With performances in Philadelphia, New Orleans, Minneapolis, New Brunswick, NJ, and Chicopee, MA, the special showcases Attell’s sharp and clever wit and includes guerrilla-style scenes filmed from the audience by both a cameraman as well as actual audience members. Immediately following the airing of “Road Work”, Comedy Central's new series, “Comedy Underground with Dave Attell” makes its triumphant (and uncensored) debut, featuring unfiltered sets from both longtime comics and up-and-coming talent at New York's historic Village Underground.

Attell recently took the time to chat with the Boston Comedy Scene Examiner about the new special prior to a performance at Foxwoods Resort and Casino this past weekend, where he raucously proved he was still a member of comedy royalty.

BCSE: Hi Dave, how are you?

DA: Hi, how's it going?

BCSE: Good, how have you been?

DA: I'm in New York right now; the weather is cool so I'm excited. How's it going up there?

BCSE: It's going well. It feels like spring out there. It's exciting.

DA: It's a great change after the arctic vortex.

BCSE: I know. I feel like everybody I talk to has been miserable all winter.

DA: Yeah, but when else can you say the term 'arctic vortex'? It's so much fun.

BCSE: Right. So what made you decide to film your new special in the manner that you did?

DA: That's a good question. A lot of these specials you see are in a theater, and I'm not a theater comic. I've been doing comedy for over twenty five years, and I'd say 99% of those times have been in clubs all over the country. I feel like I'm a club comic; my audience comes to see that, and I just wanted to do one there. I kind of got sick of the look of the theater shows, so I really wanted to do it in a club - that's where I work. That's where I think the jokes work best, and that's what it is.

BCSE: I can't imagine how awesome it's going to be because I feel like the theater shows aren't reflective of a true comedy scene.

DA: I kind of agree with that. There's some comics that are touring theater acts, and they really know how to handle the stage and the fact that the audience is so far away. I never really dug that; I never got that whole what's so great about a theater. If anything, I felt uncomfortable. It's not my scene, and it doesn't work with my stuff. I like the crowd right there; I like to interact with the crowd. I also think that when you work at a club show, anything can happen. It's more spontaneous. A theater show feels more like a play to me. It's more prepared; I don't like that.

BCSE: Right, and you definitely have that barrier between the performer and the audience in a theater setting, and that kind of gets rid of half of the excitement of going to a comedy show.

DA: And let's not forget - we're talking theaters, we're talking, like, twelve hundred, two thousand seats. If you're a big comic, five thousand. I'm an okay comic, I've been doing this for awhile, and I have performed to many a half-sold out theater. That's when you really feel bad. You walk out there and you look out, you see the first couple of rows are full. Then you look to the right, and there's nobody there. It's weird. You definitely are, like, what did I do here? There's a lot of pressure to fill a theater. A lot of comics don't like club shows because there's the check spot, there's people eating and drinking. But I like that. I like the fact that it's part of the experience, whereas some other comics, they want people to just sit there and laugh. I can see that, but for me, I think the more stuff that's going on, the more it helps me.

BCSE: Absolutely. I read that part of it was shot here in Massachusetts...in Chicopee?

DA: Yes, Chicopee, the secret garden of Massachusetts. Every comic has played the Hu Ke Lau in Chicopee, Mass. It's the touchstone. Every guy's played it on the way up, and on the way down. I've played there for years. It's a Chinese restaurant, and usually they have live entertainment besides comedy. In the special there's a Polynesian band that does play there all the time - I bring them in. They play there all the time. That is a hard, hard room. It's a hard room for pretty much anybody. It's hard with scorpion bowls flying, that's a crazy drink with like nine types of alcohol in it. And the Bruins are in the playoffs. That is a recipe for a really hard show.

BCSE: Yeah, anytime Boston sports are faring well, you know people aren't going to be paying much attention to you.

DA: Exactly.

BCSE: So we get to see your special, and immediately after your new series, 'Comedy Underground'. I am so excited for that.

DA: Everybody keeps saying it's my series - it's not 'my' series. This is not my show, I didn't pitch the show. They came to me and said, 'Do you want to host the show?' and I'm like, 'What are you talking about?' He said, 'It's like a dirty, uncensored, unfiltered stand up comedy show where you bring on the comics.' I'm like, 'I'm in. I like that.' It's a cool idea that's an old idea, but it's definitely a needed idea now. There are other stand up shows - on the network, in other places - but to have an unfiltered place where the comics can do their rawest, dirtiest stuff is really important. It's important for comedy; it's not really about me. It's important for comedy. This kind of comedy isn't peachy-to-death. There's still a place where you can do a raw joke and the crowd gets it and sees it as a joke and nothing more. New people coming up, and people who have been on the road for years, you know, the old guard - we can come and do a quick five minute set in front of a crowd that gets it. I just think that that's something that I want to be a part of.

BCSE: Yeah, and like you said, it's going to do wonders for comedy. I think, with everybody being so politically correct these days, we forget -the comedy laypeople kind of forget that this is what comedy really is about. I think it's a great opportunity for them to see that.

DA: I totally agree with that. You and I both know that a joke is a joke is a joke, and people put too much meaning behind it. They react to it in the wrong way. I mean, you can boo or laugh, and that's pretty much what you're supposed to do with jokes. You're not supposed to take it any further than that. Getting a crowd in a club is hard enough, but all the computer stuff and apps and stuff, to a live performance is difficult. And then, to have them sit through the raw stuff is becoming a rarity now. I know with my own crowd, guys are groaning at sex jokes, which is almost unheard of. Everyone's so metro - they shut down. This isn't an Xbox game; this is live, this is happening now - enjoy the moment. Maybe it's just the way we're headed, but I do want to make sure that there's a place where comics can do this kind of stuff. I know I'm rambling on about but I feel strongly about it. I think all the comics do. We let the audience take us to a place - we've either got to be silly or poignant. We should really get back to the roots of comedy, which is club sets - raw, dirty. Tell it like you want it and let it all sift out. I think that's what we're doing here.

BCSE: Love it. I absolutely love it, I'm so glad that you guys are doing that. I look at people nowadaysBCSE: - I myself am thirty-five, I grew up watching Andrew Dice Clay. How can my generation be so politically correct? I think It will be a good opportunity for people to kind of step back a little bit and just enjoy it.

DA: I totally am with you. This is it. And the cool thing about both of these things is that I haven't done a special in awhile, and I don't anything more out of these specials than just laying it out for the people - the true comedy fans. These are the people that we as comics really need to connect to more - the true comedy fans. Not just the tweeters and the promoters, I think that we have also dropped the ball in this self-promotion thing and the podcasts. And you, yourself, helping me get the word out to the right people is really important because there are a lot of true, true comedy fans, and I meet them at the clubs after my shows. They come to see me over and over again, or I met them a USO tour in Afghanistan or Iraq, and they really do make you feel that they're with you on this stuff. Those are the people who I really want to watch the show. The rest of them, I could give a sh*t. I could care less. It's really about the true comedy fans, the ones that get it. It's time to give these people the props - no throwing out a wide net for more and more people. It always leads to vanilla, it's boring.

Set your calendars, alarm clocks and DVRs for this Saturday's premiere of “Dave Attell: Road Work” and “Comedy Underground with Dave Attell” and get a close up and personal stand up comedy experience without leaving your couch. The special will be available immediately after premiere on CC: Stand-Up Direct, and April 15 on iTunes, Xbox Video, Sony Entertainment Network, Amazon Instant Video, Vudu, and Target.

The premiere episode of “Comedy Underground” will feature comedians Joe DeRosa, Jermaine Fowler and Jay Oakerson, with special guest Jeff Ross. Also featured in the series are Judah Friedlander, Ralphie May, Nikki Glaser, Ari Shaffir, Lil Rel Howery, and Ali Wong, plus special guest appearances from Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, Amy Schumer, Artie Lange, Jim Norton, Ron Jeremy and “Teen Mom’s” Farrah Abraham. New episodes of “Comedy Underground with Dave Attell” air uncensored on Saturdays at 1:00 a.m. Eastern and Pacific, and will be available two days after air on iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Xbox Video, Sony Entertainment Network, Vudu and Verizon Flexview.