Dave Attell

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Dave Attell
Dave Attell 2009.jpg
Dave Attell in December 2009
Born (1965-01-18) January 18, 1965 (age 53)
Queens, New York, US
Medium Stand-up, television, film
Nationality American
Years active 1988–present
Genres Blue comedy
Insult comedy
Black comedy
Subject(s) American culture, everyday life, sex, recreational drug use, self-deprecation, current events, religion
Influences Richard Pryor, Bill Hicks, Sam Kinison, Redd Foxx, Don Rickles[1]
Notable works and roles Saturday Night Live
(writer, 1993–1994)
The Jon Stewart Show
(writer, 1993–1995)
The Ugly American on The Daily Show
Host of Insomniac with Dave Attell
Host of The Gong Show with Dave Attell
Frank in Pootie Tang

Dave Attell (born January 18, 1965) is an American stand-up comedian, writer and actor, best known as the host of Comedy Central's Insomniac with Dave Attell[2] and The Gong Show with Dave Attell. Born in Queens, New York, he grew up in Rockville Centre, New York and now lives in New York City.

Stand-up career

After graduating from New York University in 1987 with a degree in communications, Attell worked menial jobs during the day and put in his time at comedy clubs at night. He worked his first gig at Governor's in Levittown and, according to Attell, "totally bombed".[citation needed]

Attell's first appearance on television was in 1988 on VH1's Stand-Up Spotlight, which also featured early appearances by Lewis Black, Margaret Cho, Jeff Garlin, Jay Mohr and Wanda Sykes. The show was hosted by Rosie O'Donnell.

Perhaps his biggest break was achieved on November 23, 1993, when he made his first appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman. The appearance was seen by Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels, who then recruited Attell to be a writer, and occasional performer, on SNL. Attell can be seen behind Chris Farley during the famous "Rudy Giuliani Inauguration" sketch. Attell worked on the show for the '93–'94 season.

In 1995, Attell was featured on two HBO specials: alongside up-and-comers Louis C.K., Anthony Clark, Eric Tunney and Dave Chappelle. He was a featured performer on the 1995 Young Comedians Special hosted by Garry Shandling. He was given his own 60-minute special on the channel's HBO Comedy Showcase. Subsequently, Attell was also given an episode of HBO Comedy Half-Hour in 1997.

Attell's first one-hour special, Captain Miserable aired December 8, 2007 on HBO.


In 1995, Attell appeared as Squiggly Dave on Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist. In 1999 the network issued Attell an installment in their Comedy Central Presents series.

The same year the network signed him on as a regular commentator on their satirical news show The Daily Show. When he arrived in 1999, the show was just finding its audience after the departure of host Craig Kilborn and the arrival of Jon Stewart, an old friend of Attell's from the New York comedy circuit. The three-year stint gave Attell access to a mass audience on a regular basis (The Daily Show has done much the same for comedians Stephen Colbert, Steve Carell, Lewis Black and others). Attell's series of commentary on the show was called "The Ugly American".

In 2003, Attell began appearing semi-regularly on Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn. The show featured many of the performers he works with every day at the underground comedy club the Comedy Cellar and is based on the conversations they would have off-stage at the Olive Tree Cafe, the restaurant above the club. The unscripted show was canceled in November 2004.

In 2007, Attell appeared in the Michael Addis film, Heckler. Attell also appeared on Comedy Central's Last Laugh in 2007.

In July 2008, Attell began hosting The Gong Show with Dave Attell for Comedy Central. Like the 1970s version, the show had a rotating panel of celebrity judges grading unusual acts.[3][4][5][6][7]

Other notable television roles for Attell:

In January 2010, he co-hosted the AVN Awards show, along with porn actresses Kirsten Price and Kayden Kross[8] and again in 2012 with co-hostesses Sunny Leone and Bree Olson.

In May 2008, Attell announced a casting call on his MySpace page for Comedy Central's relaunch of The Gong Show. Attell was host, along with Greg Fitzsimmons serving as head writer on the series. However, The Gong Show with Dave Attell aired only from July to September 2008.

Attell returned to television on Showtime beginning October 20, 2011 in Dave's Old Porn, a TV series in which Attell views and jokes about retro 70's/80's pornographic movies with different guest comedians. Typically, during a given show, Attell and his guest view clips that give an overview of a particular retro porn star's career. Near the end of that show, that particular porn actor appears and also comments on clips from some of his/her movies.[9]

Insomniac with Dave Attell

Insomniac with Dave Attell was a television series[2] described by Attell as "Wild on E! for Ugly People", it featured Attell walking the streets of America's cities late at night, meeting the people in a haze of ecstatic inebriation. The show occasionally went overseas.

The American cities featured on the show were Albuquerque, Anchorage, Atlanta, Austin (2 times), Baltimore, Boise, Boston, Charleston (WV), Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Columbus, Honolulu, Houston, Kansas City, Key West, Las Vegas, Little Rock, Long Island, Memphis, Miami, Myrtle Beach, Nashville, New Orleans, New York City (4 times), Oakland, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Portland, Reno, San Francisco, and Salt Lake City.

The foreign cities featured on the show were Amsterdam, Dublin, London, Montreal, Tijuana, Toronto, and specials that took place in Berlin, Rio de Janeiro, and Tokyo.

The most common activity (besides roaming the street aimlessly and visiting bars) was visiting workers on their night shifts. Instead of spending time with gas station attendants, he went searching for odd professions to highlight. Among them were crime-scene cleaners, bail bondsmen, cow-milkers, brothel-hookers, bicycle cops, coal miners, and porn overdubbers. Memorable episodes include a visit to Chicago's world-famous The Wieners Circle, where the staff routinely got in cursing matches with their customers, and a visit to a Phoenix nudist camp.

Throughout the run of the show, Attell carried around a one-time-use film camera and took pictures of random events, which would be shown during the end-credits.

Comedy Underground with Dave Attell

In April 2014, Comedy Central premiered Comedy Underground with Dave Attell. A late night, (mostly) uncensored stand-up comedy show taped live in New York.

The series has featured fellow comics Jeff Ross, Amy Schumer, Jermaine Fowler, Ari Shaffir, Judah Friedlander, Brad Williams, Jay Oakerson, Nikki Glaser, Kurt Metzger, Ali Wong, Louis Katz, Junior Stopka, Luenell, Russ Meneve, April Macie, Ralphie May, Al Jackson, Jimmy Shubert, Tom Rhodes, Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, and Artie Lange.


Attell played the role of "Don" in Los Enchiladas!, a film written, produced and directed by comedian Mitch Hedberg, starring Hedberg as well as fellow comedians Todd Barry and Marc Maron.

In the short film The Office Party, Attell once again played the role of "Don". The film co-starred ex-Karate Kid/Outsider Ralph Macchio, Jon Stewart, Carol Kane and Tate Donovan. The film was written and directed by Daily Show producer Chiara Edmands.

Pootie Tang saw Attell as the bumbling corporate lackey, "Frank". The film was written and directed by fellow comedian Louis C.K. It co-starred Lance Crouther, Wanda Sykes and Chris Rock among others.

Attell also played "Efram the Driver" in the Independent feature My Suicidal Sweetheart, written and directed by filmmaking newcomer Michael Parness. The film co-starred Natasha Lyonne, David Krumholtz, Tim Blake Nelson, Lorraine Bracco, David Paymer and Rosanna Arquette.

Attell had cameo appearances in the films Abby Singer and Scary Movie 4.

He plays the character Barker in the 2008 comedy film Harold.

He voiced the GPS on the Mystery Machine in the 2010 film Scooby-Doo! Abracadabra-Doo.

He appeared in Trainwreck as the main character Amy's homeless friend "Noam".



  1. Droms, Justin (November 16, 2006). "Insomniac's Dave Attell, Pt. 1". Cracked.com.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Insomniac with Dave Attell". The New York Times.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "The Gong Show with Dave Attell". Comedy Central.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "The Gong Show with Dave Attell Television show – The Gong Show with Dave Attell TV Show – Yahoo! TV".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "TV listings guide, TV shows, cable TV, satellite TV, TV schedules on Zap2it".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "The Gong Show With Dave Attell – AOL Television".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. ""The Gong Show With Dave Attell" Will Premiere on Comedy Central| AHN| July 26, 2008".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Dan Miller (December 23, 2009). "Dave Attell to Co-Host AVN Awards". AVN. Retrieved December 24, 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Wetherbee, Brandon (November 29, 2012). "Dave Attell, 'Dave's Old Porn' Host, Heads to the DC Improv". The Huffington Post. Retrieved April 27, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links