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On some level, comedians indulge our tendency toward confirmation bias. Whenever they make an especially keen observation about their own lives, it can sting when it hits a little too close to home. What makes longtime comedian Dave Attell unique is how actively he tries to make his audience not identify with him. His onstage persona is a self-loathing, misanthropic drunk, and his comedy is comforting precisely because his day-to-day life seems so far from ours. In one memorable bit, he envisions himself as the star of an ad for Jägermeister, in which he engages in nonconsensual sex with a pumpkin. (“If that pumpkin didn’t want it, why was it smiling at me?”) Attell’s deadpan willingness to debase himself has given him a legion of devoted fans, and you can expect all that and worse at his stint of shows at the DC Improv. His persona, like a bad wine, grows sour with age, so by now Attell is probably in the throes of depression. It’s the best mental space for a comedian, especially one who’s most comfortable when he indulges his hilariously ugly thoughts.
Dave Attell performs Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. and Sunday at 8 p.m. at DC Improv, 1140 Connecticut Ave. NW. $35. (202) 296-7008. dcimprov.com.