Forming contacts can really help further the career of a comedian in the Baltimore area. Networking among comedians and comedy clubs leads to more opportunities for everyone. After all, friends don't let friends fail at comedy.

Local comedian Doug Powell originally got into comedy to avoid getting a real job. Unfortunately, he soon found that comedy was more strenuous than any other job could have been. However, networking and support from other comedians was very helpful.

"You just do open mikes, you meet people and they help you out," he said.

"It's a big networking thing," added Larry XL. "Baltimore comics are really supportive. Every step of the way, you have people helping you to tweak your act or telling you about some new club that opened up somewhere."

Chip Cucchiella said he is confident that many of the comedians currently making waves in the local Baltimore scene will go on to stardom.

"There are a lot of people here now that you're definitely going to hear about later," said Cucchiella.

Local comedian Timmy Hall said he is pleased to see the Baltimore comedy scene starting to get the recognition it deserves.

"People are finally catching on and realizing that Baltimore has some good talent as far as comedians," he said. "I'm most proud that Baltimore's come such a long way."

Hall's connection with Baltimore goes even deeper. Hecklers beware -- he is not only a comedian, but also a Baltimore City police officer. Hall is best known for his onstage role as the Punk Ass Police, dispelling the myth that cops have no sense of humor.

The Audience
With so many comedians thriving in the Baltimore area, it might seem as though the audiences are going a little too easy on them. Surely this many comedians can't be this good. Maybe the audiences just don't want to hurt the tender egos of the rising comedy stars. After all, Baltimore is known for its gentle spirit and tender heart. Oh wait ...

"If you don't come at them, they'll eat you alive," said Schlegel. "If you can do comedy in Baltimore, you can do it anywhere."

"You'd better get good fast," agrees comedian Joe Robinson, who was the runner-up in the 2005 Funniest Person in Baltimore competition. "It's a challenging area. They like to yell, they like to talk, and they like a lot of interaction."

According to Chris White, Baltimore comedy audiences tend to be a little more blue-collar, and they smell fear a lot better than D.C. audiences.

"You have to be confident in what you're doing to succeed in Baltimore. Otherwise, you get beaten down," he said.

Surprisingly, most comedians enjoy these Baltimore audiences. Many comedians love the open attitude and spirit of the Baltimore crowd.

"Most people that I perform for are people who are working class who need to unwind," said Lutz. "When you tell them a bit of stuff they can relate to, they are a real receptive audience."

In a time when the world seems all too serious, it would appear that Baltimore is more than ready to cut loose and enjoy a night of laughter.

Luci Mazzullo contributed to this article.