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WEDNESDAY-SATURDAY

Thank God the war is over, if for no other reason than that its end may still the idiot wind that blows from the mouths of every would-be pundit and political commentator. You’d think comedians, in particular, would know better, what with the logistical nightmares involved in writing a timely routine based on an “operation” that barely lasted six weeks. Bill Maher was out there offering “comic” alternatives to the war. (Doesn’t he have a college freshman to seduce somewhere?) Janeane Garofalo was really unfunny and sincere on The O’Reilly Factor. (Shouldn’t she be concerning herself with a sequel to The Matchmaker?) Well, praise be on high that potty-mouthed Puck Patton Oswalt knows he’s no Bill Hicks—he’s well aware that his primary responsibility as a quipster is to get us giggling. He references such pop-culture marginalia as fantasy artist Frank Frazetta and has even written issues of Batman and The Justice League of America. So what if he leans on the always reliable (if obtuse) wee-person joke (“If you throw a midget into a tub of hot water, he makes Sleepytime Tea”)? He’s got the observational humor down as well: alcohol is “pain-go-bye-bye juice,” and patchouli “smells like dirt fucked by a hobo.” The Virginia native—who resembles a cantankerous hobbit who’s wandered far from the Shire—knows that it’s the glistening distractions of life that compel us to wake up each morning, not our vaunted belief systems. And that’s what makes him America’s funniest stand-up. Oswalt is on at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 28, and Thursday, May 29, and at 8 and 10:30 p.m. Friday, May 30, and Saturday, May 31, at the Improv, 1140 Connecticut Ave. NW. $15-$18. (202) 296-7008. (David Dunlap Jr.)