It was a typical Tuesday night in Westminster, one many would spend at home, at work or at the gym.
Few local arts and entertainment organizers dared schedule events, but David Shofer did.
He believes people could use a good laugh any night of the week. So he made some calls, sent some emails, printed some fliers and promised some pay checks.
Shofer made Tuesday night a comedy night at The Stables Restaurant & Lounge in Westminster. He booked Mickey Cucchiella, the sharp-tongued, opinionated 98 Rock morning show host, to headline the evening. He added a host and two opening acts.
And the place was packed.
Nearly 200 people showed up on Sept. 25, even though it was one of those dreaded slow weeknights where going out isn't typically a first choice.
This is the ideal setup. The venue owner gets additional customers. The comics get a venue. And Shofer, the for-profit producer of Uncle Dave's Comedy, gets a chance to organize and operate a night full of comedy, which is what he enjoys to do.
Shofer aspires to one day produce comedy at his own venue. For now, he's producing comedy at three Carroll County venues, among others.
His shows are the second Thursday of every month at Two Doors Down Pub & Grill in Westminster, the third Thursday of every month at The Stables Restaurant & Lounge in Westminster and the final Tuesday of each month at Gunner's Grille in Taneytown.
The Cucchiella performance was a special event, one that drew a larger crowd in part because the comic has such a huge following in the area.
With Shofer regularly booking shows, several comedy houses and troupes nearby, and inexperienced comics trying to make a name, just about any night can be a comedy night in central Maryland.
Sometimes, comedy's biggest names make appearances. Usually at least two or three famous faces make stops in, or near, Baltimore each month.
In September, "Saturday Night Live" alumni Darrell Hammond performed several shows at Magooby's Joke House in Timonium, which is welcoming Jay Mohr, another "SNL" alum, for two shows in November.
Rob Schneider is at the Baltimore Comedy Factory this weekend.
But on nights when easily recognizable comics are not on stage, there's no shortage of options for those looking to chuckle.
In addition to his Carroll shows, Shofer produces weekly comedy nights at Sonoma's Bar in Columbia on Mondays and Red House Tavern in Canton on Wednesdays, each with a different headliner and a host of other comedians on the bill.
If a performer is involved in comedy in the area, chances are Shofer knows it. He's familiar with everyone from longtime comedy veterans who pass through the area to newcomers trying to figure out how to put together material that will make audiences regularly laugh.
Even for those who are naturally funny, it's not easy. David Edwin, a regular theater actor in the area, recently started doing standup.
His first open mic was at Magooby's Joke House. Comics are required to bring a few friends to ensure there will be a crowd. One of his cohorts, surprisingly, brought a crowd of more than 100.
So Edwin, with his material untested, had to go out before a packed house and try to be funny. His friends still love to poke fun at his first performance, which ended awkwardly when he started a joke only to be told his time was up.
"You have to fail so much before you actually get to be good," Edwin said.
He's gotten better. Last month, he won an open mic competition at Magooby's. If he continues to do well at open mics, he'll start to get the attention of producers like Shofer, who is always looking for comics he can book that will produce successful shows at his many venues.
"If someone is interested in trying to get into comedy, I would love to meet that person," Shofer said. "I would tell them, listen, you have to get into these circuits, get into these situations and really make a difference."
While the names he books at his Carroll shows aren't always familiar, he ensures the acts are funny folks who just haven't quite received their big break.
For the Cucciella show, he brought in Kelly Collette, a finalist for CMT's "Next Big Comic," as the opening act. The night began with a quick set from Michael Blakeslee, who won a stand-up competition earlier in the fall at Stables, which gave him the coveted spot before a large crowd.
After Blakeslee poked fun of Nintendo's "Super Mario 2" and Collette used her monotone voice to crack one-liners, Cucciella took to the stage.
He poked fun at Westminster, the venue, the crowd and mostly himself, generating an hour's worth of laughs.
When Shofer gave Cucciella the signal that his time was up, Cucciella retreated from the stage, the crowd filing out of a full restaurant and into the parking lot.
Tuesday night comedy night was over, and Shofer was already looking to the future. He must book quality acts and bring in customers to make sure the businesses he works with are willing to continue with comedy nights.
"I've always got to think ahead," he said. "As soon as one night is over, it's time to get ready for the next."