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Class Clown

Vindictive grad works the bitter on the club circuit.

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To North Olmsted High School's class of '88, here's a heads-up: Comedian Mike Melville still holds a grudge. And twice a month at No Excuses, he takes out his frustrations by slinging one-liners at the stuck-up kids "who wouldn't give me the time of day back then," he says. "And I'll admit it's partially out of envy, jealousy, and spite."

Freaks and geeks can relate to Melville's sarcastic take on high school memories. Like the time he ran into the head cheerleader six months ago at his sister-in-law's garage sale. "I just get to laugh," says Melville, who's a salesman for Sysco Foods by day. "She put on 180 pounds and still had Ho Hos hanging off her shirt. I wanted to ask her, 'What have you done besides eat a lot? How's your popularity working for you now?'"

The 35-year-old Melville's been cracking on his middle-class upbringing since 2002, when he debuted his stand-up routine at No Excuses' Five Doses of Comedy revue. He still hits the club every other Thursday for its open-mic nights, but he's since beefed up his date book with regular gigs at bars like Bassa Vita in Lakewood and Robin's Nest on Cleveland's East Side. Sometimes, he plays to packed houses; other times, he feels like he's giving a private audience to the bartender. "Cleveland is a weird city," says Melville. "You'll have people who'll still spend 40 bucks to see Michael Stanley sing songs he wrote 35 years ago, but they won't spend 5 bucks to go see someone who'll put them in a good mood."

Yet Melville lumbers on, with gags squarely aimed at his schoolyard nemeses. From the neighborhood kids whose parents gave them new cars for their 16th birthdays to the jocks and cheerleaders who packed on a few pounds after graduation, everyone's a target. "Yeah, I'm bitter and resentful," says Melville, who vows that he'll never go to a class reunion. "It's a horrible thing to do, but I can make fun of them now, because they can't beat me up and stuff me in a locker anymore."

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