"What day is this? Tuesday?" asked comedian Dave Attell at the Improv on, yes, Tuesday. Informed of the correct date, he deadpanned, "That's when all the fun happens." Fun did happen, of course--with Attell, it's a dark kind of fun, laughing at the world and not with it. "I hate traveling," he said, "because my dad used to beat me with a globe."

Arriving onstage with a beer in hand, Attell soon lit up a cigarette, the first of two, and later ordered a shot of Jack Daniel's for a woman he'd bantered with in the audience. For himself, it was Jameson's in a chilled glass. "Whiskey's like an invisible hand on the back of your head telling you it's going to be all right," he explained.

"I'm 34 years old. How old do I look to you?" he asked a woman in the front row. "Older, right?" Actually, yes. "I have the 'Andre Agassi with a drinking problem' look," he said, with some accuracy. "Women don't go for bald men--until there's a problem." Attell is at an age where he realizes there's much he will never do. "I know I won't birth a calf," he lamented.

Attell didn't present the usual slam-bang parade of jokes. In fact, much of the time he seemed to be making it up on the spot. While much of Attell's material cannot be quoted, it's not a exactly a blue act. He's tough but fair. His references are so far beyond left field that the absurdity alone is reason to laugh. His set-ups often don't need punch lines. "And they say Flag Day isn't a holiday," he offered for reasons unclear. His favorite "apartment game" is Find the Smell.

Attell touched briefly on relationships. "I think it's over when she buys you pajamas," he said, adding, "Why is there a pocket? What do I keep in there? My dreams?" Attell follows his singular dreams through Sunday.