Comedian Rich Hall honed his skills in frequent visits to Washington before going on to the "David Letterman Show," "Merv Griffin," the "Tonight" show and a feature spot on ABC's recently canceled "Fridays." Having opened dozens of Cellar Door shows (and a Talking Heads concert), Hall is making what the Wax Museum calls a "triumphant return" tonight with singer-songwriter Loudon Wainwright.

"It sounds like MacArthur is coming back into town," he laughs. Though Hall still enjoys club work, his future seems to be in television, which he says is "much easier. Stand-up comedy, which is basically a set-up and a punchline, is the hardest to do; you waste so much potentially good material because you can never quite condense it into the single joke. You have to verbalize, articulate, draw a mental picture for the audience. In TV, all you're working with is images, so you can get much more mileage out of an idea."

Hall's next project will be an HBO special, "Not the Nine O'Clock News," which he insists will not be like "Fridays." "In other words, it won't be overproduced. 'Fridays' always purported to have some sort of identity, which in fact it didn't. They kept trying to claim that they were a real hip, politically oriented show; in fact, I think they really struck out in those terms." On the plus side, Hall had complete creative control for his hilarious "Highway 6," "Bachelor Living" and "Sportsphone" segments. "I was pretty much removed from the show, which is what I wanted; I never had to work with the cast. I did learn how to direct, edit, produce; it was a crash course in filmmaking." It may come in handy as Hall develops some new projects for ABC with Ron Richards, who scripted the also recently canceled "No Soap Radio."