In 1998, while working for Procter & Gamble, Josh Sneed decided to try his joke-telling skills during an open mic night at Go Bananas Comedy Club in Montgomery. He gradually became an accomplished performer, and eventually was forced to make a tough choice: "Continue with the day job or decide to give stand-up my all," he recalls. "I thought I was young enough that if it didn't pan out, I could bounce back from it."

His parents, however, weren't sure if Sneed had made the right decision. "My mom was disappointed," Sneed says. "She's a P&G employee. But both of my parents knew how happy it made me. They also knew that whenever I do something, I try to give it 100 percent, so they respected the fact that I was going to give it my all."

Nine years later, Sneed's comedy career is going well. In March, his half-hour special debuted on Comedy Central. He regularly opens for various members of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour and has started headlining more clubs in bigger cities across the country.

When not making audiences laugh, Sneed usually can be found back in Greater Cincinnati, working on his new business venture: Look At Me Shirts. His partner is fellow comic Darin Overholser, a graphic artist and illustrator.

In 2004, Overholser helped design and launch a board game with his hunting buddy, Dirk Gadd, called Whitetailopoly. "It's basically Monopoly for deer hunters," he explains. "It's sold in Bass Pro Shops and Cabela's and a lot of mom-&-pop stores." At this stage, Whitetailopoly is fairly low maintenance, which affords Overholser the time to get the new business up and running.

Look At Me Shirts sells T-shirts emblazoned with jokes and funny images. It started as a website last summer, and by fall the pair had decided to expand the operation into a brick-and-mortar venture, renting out space in Dayton, Ky. The storefront, located at 633 Sixth Ave., is called The Route 8 Warehouse. The company prints the shirts for Overholser says he and Sneed decided to keep the two businesses separate for legal protection.

Having printed a good deal of satirical apparel, these young entrepreneurs have attracted some complaints. Though many of the words and images on their shirts fall under the protective umbrella of satirical use, the business partners aren't begging for trouble, either. "We had a T-shirt with Dave Thomas from Wendy's, and they sent us an email asking us to stop. And we did, because we blatantly used the picture of him," Overholser admits.

Although satire and parody enjoy some legal protection, Look At Me Shirts is still navigating some tricky waters. "It's called 'grey market'," Sneed notes. "There's no official ruling on it." Currently the partners look at any complaints on a case-by-case basis. "We have a shirt that says 'I Can Do The Ickey Shuffle.' It doesn't say 'Ickey Woods.' It doesn't have the Bengals' logo, but everyone knows who we're talking about. If he were to say, 'I don't want you to sell that shirt,' we'd stop." Other complainers, however, might be challenged. "Ohio State tried to tell us we couldn't sell 'Even God Hates Michigan' because it had their color scheme. That one we're going to fight." Sneed also feels that celebrities such as Mel Gibson and Alec Baldwin are fair game. "As a comedian I feel they opened themselves up to this sort if thing."

At first, Sneed and Overholser had someone else silkscreen their T-shirts. When they set up the Route 8 Warehouse, they invested in equipment to do it themselves, though neither had had much experience with the process. That learning curve has proven to be the biggest challenge so far. "That was the good thing about buying brand-new equipment," Sneed notes. "It came with training from the people who sold it to us. We kind of had a crash course."

"The first couple of weeks were tough," Overholser concurs. "But once we got the equipment going, we got a little more confidence and started putting out some quality stuff."

T-shirts have provided a different type of comedy forum for the two guys. "As a comic I try to stay away from topical material because it doesn't have a very long shelf life," Sneed explains. "Plus, between Leno, Letterman and Conan '™Brien, most topical jokes have already been done. But to have jokes that don't necessarily translate to the stage, but look funny on a T-shirt, is rewarding."

The storefront may help increase sales. People passing by, seeing the shirts in the window, try to wander in even when the store isn't open for business. One elderly gentleman steps in, wanting to purchase one for his friend, a huge Reds fan. The shirt says "Rounding Third And Heading For A Bar." Later, a group of teenagers checks out the window display and tries the locked door.

Though it's a few miles from the bustle of Newport on the Levee, Sneed and Overholser like their digs in Dayton. "It's ended up being pretty cool," Sneed notes, "because all of the development from the river is making its way this way, and it seems to be a thriving part of Northern Kentucky."

Beyond their storefront and website, the partners are seeking out retail vendors. "We're trying to get them into Hot Topic, Journeys, Wal-Mart," Sneed says. "We've got somebody to help us with that. But at the moment we're just focusing on getting the shirts made ourselves, bringing in new work to keep the machines going when we're not making shirts for us, and really trying  to build a little following by having people come into our retail shop and buy our shirts."