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South Bend Tribune
Mar 3, 2006

Self-deprecation Wins Laughs

Comic takes witty jabs at himself and relationships

ANDREW S. HUGHES

Tribune Staff Writer

MISHAWAKA -- Onstage, Michael Somerville speaks with a wide smile spread across his face, the expression reminiscent of the grin Jack Nicholson wore as The Joker in "Batman."

Somerville has reason, however, to smile: He's a funny guy, something he proved Tuesday in his opening-night set of a weeklong engagement at the Funny Bone.

A 1994 graduate of the University of Notre Dame, Somerville projected a natural presence onstage. He rolled easily with interruptions from the audience and displayed a quick improvisational wit in responding to the shout outs and to responses to his questions for members of the audience.

He also demonstrated the ability to use his sense of humor to shut down audience participation.

"You see how it gets less funny?" Somerville said after a member of the audience milked a joke one too many times. "That's why you're out there."

Much of Somerville's act, however, is self-deprecating, and he made fun of himself for his handwriting, that he bought a new printer when his old one ran out of ink, and that when his girlfriend's car had a flat tire, he said, " 'I think we should see other people,' " rather than attempt to change the tire.

"This girl told me I'm hot, and I said, 'Thank you,' " he said in discussing his appearance. "She's like, 'No, you're sweating."

As for a real compliment, Somerville showed he knows how to deflate those, too.

"My last girlfriend said, 'You're the best thing that ever happened to me,' " he said. "I said, 'You've had a rough life.' "

Remembering another relationship, Somerville said, "I'm dating this girl who's, 'I want to make love until the sun comes up.' I'm like, 'All right, but I'll have to call some friends.' "

On the subject of aging, Somerville said, "I have friends who are starting to have children, on purpose. I'm still at that stage where if a girl is pregnant, that means you had sex and lost."

Somerville did a few of his routines about drinking, including characterizing shots as drinks for people pressed for time: "How can I get the hangover without all this socializing?"

Somerville's jokes about relationships had a goofy, observational tone that never ventured into crude territory but still had an edge to them.

He advised women, for example, to ask their men realistic hypothetical questions, not fantasies such as whether he'd be faithful if a film star offered him sex.

"Ask, 'What would you do if my sister offered to give you a (sexual act)?' " he said and then gave a guy's response. " 'Why? Did she say something?' All of you guys know what I'm talking about."

Somerville continues through Sunday at the Funny Bone with shows at 7:30 and 10 p.m. today and Saturday and 7:30 p.m. Sunday.

Tonight, Somerville takes over as the host of Nick-at-Nite's "Road Crew." Catch him live, instead, while you can.

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