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From Shakespeare in the Park to Blankman, from a Tony nomination to Crank Yankers, from the Yale School of Drama to the bitch-snapping Antoine Merriweather of In Living Color’s “Men On…,” David Alan Grier can play both high and low. But even when he’s going for the broadest, most obvious gag (witness McHale’s Navy), Grier always plays it smart. His humor is rooted less in the standard neurotic neediness displayed by most comics than in the enlightened observations of an active brain. Perhaps that’s because Grier comes to comedy from the theater, where he spent time learning to inhabit characters instead of simply substituting stage time for therapy. Well, maybe he does that, too. Either way, Grier is less hyper than Robin Williams, less angry than Paul Mooney, and funnier than them both. Sit up close and watch the wheels turn when Grier performs at 8 and 10:30 p.m. (see City List for other dates) at the D.C. Improv, 1140 Connecticut Ave. NW. $25. (202) 296-7008. (Dave Nuttycombe)