Laugh. Go ahead. We promise it won't hurt. Lean back in your chair, let tears fill your eyes, then bend forward, chuckle some more and gasp for air.

Laugh off the workweek.

Forget there is a room full of people around you and don't worry about spitting onto your chicken fingers. Most of all, don't think about all the tasks you have waiting for you on Monday or the boss who won't get off your back.

Instead of all that, enjoy the joke and look across the table and smile at your date.

Smiling and laughing while on a date is always a good thing.

Thunder rumbles outside the Harrisburg Comedy Zone just as the laughter in the room dies down.

Brewer Matthews of Manheim Township in Lancaster County and Emily Copeland of Lemoyne react to a joke by comedian Any Hendrickson Friday.
Brewer Matthews of Manheim Township in Lancaster County and Emily Copeland of Lemoyne react to a joke by comedian Any Hendrickson Friday. (FLIPSIDE CHRIS DUNN)

Lancaster resident Jared Horning tilts the microphone toward him as he leans back, reaches for a bottle of beer that sits on a black stool on the stage at the Harrisburg Comedy Zone.

He takes a quick sip and moves on to his next joke.

"The Tour de France is NASCAR for guys with DUIs," he says.

The laugher returns. It's the perfect joke for a York County audience. It's got beer, NASCAR and a knock on something French.

Horning moved to Lancaster after growing up in upstate New York. The 34-year-old started doing stand-up two years ago.

"I got into it for the same reason most comics get into it," he said. "Friends and family have told you you make them laugh."

He was walking with his wife at the Park City Mall when he overheard an advertisement for a stand-up comedian.


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I can do that, he said. So he made a deal with his wife that he would get on stage within six months.

He spent the next couple months preparing. He recited jokes in front of the mirror, wrote them down in a miniature Composition Notebook, paced in his living room as his wife helped him get his timing down.

Then the night came. June 12, 2010 at Prudhomme's Lost Cajun Kitchen in Lancaster County."I was literally shaking," he said. He looked out at the audience. "I said I'd make quick."

Then the audience laughed at his first couple jokes. The thrill was invigorating.

"I stayed up all night," Horning said.

Several area comedians like Horning take the stage every Thursday night at the Comedy Zone. They have an open mike night at 7:30 p.m. every Thursday.

The club also hosts some famous professional comedians on Fridays and Saturdays.

"It's just crazy when you look at the names of the last few years," co-owner Nick Keares said. Then he rattles off the celebrities: Daniel Tosh, D.L Hughley, Rob Schneider and Jim Norton.

You can see Mike Siscoe this weekend. He's performing at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 10:30 p.m Saturday.

The Comedy Zone has a full bar and limited menu so you can nibble on nachos or sip on some rum and Coke while you enjoy that night's comedian.

Don't say we didn't warn you, however, that the language and jokes can be for mature audiences.

My wife and I have ventured up to the comedy zone on several occasions over the past four years.

We usually go with friends and we've never had a bad time.

The open mike night can be a lot of fun. You'll see some of the local talent try out new material or perfect the timing on their favorite one-liners. But it's also a blast to see a veteran performer like Raymond the Amish Comic smoothly run through his or her skit.

So whether it's a new talent or an old pro, you and your date will laugh and smile and forget about everything that happened in the past five days. Isn't that the recipe for a perfect date?

- PATRICK ABDALLA, FlipSide staff

If you go

What: The Harrisburg Comedy Zone

Where: 110 Limekiln Road, Fairview Township

Online: www.harrisburgcomedyzone.com

Food: The club has a limited menu that includes fish and chips, burgers and nachos.

Bar: The club has a bar that includes beer on tap, liquor and non-alcoholic selections.

Info: Tickets are available online and at the door.

Other comedy clubs

You can find stand-up comics at several comedy clubs in and around York County.

Brenda Sheaffer, left, of Dillsburg chats with friends before the show.
Brenda Sheaffer, left, of Dillsburg chats with friends before the show. (FLIPSIDE CHRIS DUNN )
 

Kerry's Green

Where: 150 Country Club Road, York Township

Online: www.kerrysgreen.com

Details: Has comedy every second and fourth Friday of the month. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Comedy starts at 9.

Don't miss: Comedian Danny Browning will perform July 27 at Kerry's Green. For more information, visit www.dannybrowning.biz.

Stitches Comedy Club

Where: 2300 Lincoln Hwy. East, Lancaster

Online: www.stitchescomedy.com

Details: Showtimes are 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays

Don't miss: Comedian Mike Eagan will perform on July 13 and 14.

Keep it going

Looking to extend your night out? Consider these:

Dinner before the show

THE SPOT: The Copper Cup Bar & Grill

WHAT IS IT: An 18-hole miniature golf course with a semi-tropical, semi-nautical theme.

WHERE: 148 Sheraton Drive, Fairview Township

HOURS: 6:30 to 10 a.m.; 4 until close

PRICE: $10-20 for an entrée.

INSIDER TIP: The restaurant has a "Cheers"-like motif and we found the staff to be courteous and friendly.

Adventure before the show

THE SPOT: Roundtop Mountain Resort

WHAT IS IT: Outdoor fun on the mountain, including paintball, adventure courses and dining

WHERE: 925 Roundtop Road, Warrington Township

HOURS: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

PRICE: Varies per activity.

INSIDER TIP: While you can have tons of fun on the paintball and adventure courses, heading to Mountain View Food & Spirits can lead to a relaxing afternoon before you laugh the night away