Q&A: Sean Somerville

By Columbus Alive
From the October 18, 2012 edition

Sean Somerville has been performing standup comedy for 10 years and hosts the city’s best open mic night at Surly Girl Saloon. Oh, and he’s really funny.

We’ve been doing the open mic night at Surly Girl for six years now. I had a couple other open mics around town and eventually we moved it here. I always wanted to do an open mic here — it’s a great spot for it. Lately it’s been about 20-30 comics each night, and we just set an all-time record of 36 recently.

It pretty much took off right away. We had good word of mouth since pretty much the beginning, which has continued because some of the best comics in town all like this open mic. It’s an established room where people who’re working road comics in from out of town will stop in to do some time. We’re getting a national reputation as a good open mic.

The first time I went on stage was nerve-racking. I got really drunk as most people do. I did alright, I got laughs. I didn’t tell anyone I knew about it. I figured if I bombed in front of a room full of strangers, I’ll never see them again. But I went on and I did well.

The second time I went on, I totally tanked. It was an old open mic at the Northberg Tavern that was a contest show. I lost to the rhyming campus bum — the help, help, help is on the way guy. Going in, I knew I was going to lose. It was a college crowd and everyone knows him. Sure enough, he beat everyone. In the clap-off he was shaking his coin cup. It was a little bit humbling after doing well the first time, which is good I guess.

Comedy was something I always wanted to do. It was shortly after Sept. 11; my life was kind of spiraling out. After seeing what happened that day — all the go-getters and the brilliant people died — I decided what I wanted to do was get my life going in a good direction. So I started doing comedy, met my wife and just tried to go out and live my dreams.

I love Louis C.K., that guy is on top of the comedy world right now. I got to meet him a few years back when he was at the Funny Bone. Another comic friend of mine who I went with had chatted with him on an online forum. He went up to [Louie] and Louie remembered him. He was a really nice, sweet guy — friendly, offered advice and talked to us for 20 minutes. He is that guy, down to earth and nice.

Photo by Meghan Ralston