I worry about Dave Attell; I think I’m supposed to.
The host of Comedy Central’s twisted late night travelogue “Insomniac” has become a basic cable superhero for his after-hours escapades, a role model for drunken frat boys and sleepless freaks on campuses around the country. But now with the third season’s premier episode debuting Thursday night, the show’s cult of fans have to be wondering how much more Attell and his liver can take?
Described by its host as either “a cross between ‘Girls Gone Wild’ and ‘COPS'” or “‘E!’s Wild On’ for ugly people,” “Insomniac” is a vicarious dash through the underbelly of American nightlife with the always sardonic Attell as our bald, tubby, deathly pale tour guide.
On top of the usual barhopping madness, Thursday night’s episode takes us to Myrtle Beach where Attell finds himself firework shopping, hanging out with the local airport’s ground crew, as well as visiting the world’s largest reptile park and checking in at the middle of an annual biker convention. The show will also be proceeded by an hour long “best of” special.
Attell says the original idea for the show came from his years traveling the country as a standup. “It’s just you do a set somewhere and then you go out and drink your way around town. That’s the comic lifestyle. You don’t get that in the Seinfield movie. He doesn’t end up drunk at a Denny’s, talking to a toothless waitress.”
Attell remains surprised at the popularity of “Insomniac,” admitting that he never expected to make it past the pilot. “When we first started we could go into any bar and nobody would know what we were doing,” said Attell. “They thought we were a news crew or at the very least “Inside Edition.” And now its to the point where we’re like, ‘Should we even go on a Friday?’ cause it will be too crowded.”
Throughout the new season, viewers will notice Attell and his crew being recognized more frequently during filming, something both gratifying and frustrating to Dave. “We’re kind of a victim of our own success,” he claims.
“It slows down the whole process when people come up and say “I love you on MTV, or VH1 or E!” He said. “I know they don’t really watch the show. It’s like do your “wooo!”-thing and get out of here.”
While Attell worries that people will think he’s “gunning for them” out on the street, he says there is plenty of “drunken mayhem” that ends up getting cut. “I don’t think anybody would want to see themselves like that so we don’t put any of that on there.”
But that doesn’t mean everybody is always friendly to the “Insomniac” crew. “We’ve seen a couple of fights, some pushing of the camera, but the closest we ever came was in Montreal with this French-Canadian guy,” Attell said. “There is a moment when you go from friendly tipsy drunk to crazy Frenchman. And we caught that moment. He was laughing and talking. The next night he was like ‘What are you doing here? Why do you control NATO?’ That had never really happened to us before. I was afraid for the crew and for myself and my beautiful face.”
Attell is modest about his herioc intake of alcohol. “Mmm I have a few shots, yeah I pretty much drink throughout the whole night, a lot of jager. Yeah its way too much and I think even Comedy Central wants us to cut back,” said Attell. “But a lot of its not my fault. Its really like a catch-22 if somebody hands you a free drink what are you going to do?”
After this season is completed, “Insomniac” is planning to pack up and head to Dublin, London and Amsterdam, “the 3 hot cities where they speak English,” says Attell. “And hopefully we’ll track down the some of the al-Qaida members.”
Comedy Central is also planning the release of “The Best Of ‘Insomniac With Dave Attell’ Uncensored: Vol. 1” and a CD of Dave’s stand-up routine recorded live in Denver. Both should be out in January, when Comedy Central will launch a contest to have Attell come film an upcoming episode of the show in your town with you and your friends. “I wanted to do a scratch off,” said Attell. “Writing an essay is hard, but reading them is even harder.”
Dave worries the show may have already “jumped the shark.” So what does Attell have planned for after Comedy Central stops buying new episodes?