STATELINE, Nev. - I get a text from Rocky LaPorte if he can check in up here a day early and said, "Sure, let me email Linda and you're set, my man."
This week's Improv headliner said he normally wouldn't have asked but since leaving Chicago on his Harley last week to do gigs in Nebraska and Wyoming before getting here, thought he might arrive a day early.
Riding a bike from Chicago to Tahoe? Rocky, you should have asked for two days early because it's gonna take you that long just to unwind from all that road rumble! That's unbelievable. I think Rocky will be funnier than usual knowing he can just stay in one place for a whole week.
Originally from Chicago, Rocky has been going non-stop these first six months of the year, and judging by his upcoming schedule probably won't be slowing down anytime soon. Probably why we booked him back already in the winter just so we could have him locked in before others snatched him up.
Just last weekend I had a couple ask when Rocky would be appearing up here. They are planning their vacation around seeing a comic! Wow. Then again, not just any comic, but Rocky.
It shouldn't surprise anybody, then, that the first time Rocky appeared on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" he received a standing ovation. A comic (who shall remain anonymous) said after his appearance on Leno, "You'll never see Rocky on 'The Tonight Show' again after upstaging Jay." He's probably right. C'mon, Letterman!
Rocky has fans from all walks of life. In fact, comedian-actor Tim Allen's daughter told her dad that Rocky was her favorite comic. That is funny. Unlike Leno, Tim Allen cast Rocky in several of his movies, including the Disney remake of "The Shaggy Dog" and Tim's movie "Crazy On the Outside." Rocky was also part of the ensemble comedy special "The Godfathers of Comedy" that aired on Showtime earlier this year. Not bad for a guy who used to be a truck driver on Chicago's South Side.
Rocky started out doing open mic nights around the Chicago area, eventually entering himself into comedy competitions and started garnering quite a following, not just in Chicago but outside Illinois, as other comics started talking about this new guy everyone should check out. After winning The Johnnie Walker National Comedy Competition (beating out more than 1,100 contestants in 10 cities) "Rock" started making television appearances on "Cheers," "Pat Sajak" and "Comic Strip Live" before getting a shot at his own pilot on CBS called "The Rocky Laporte Show," which you can see on YouTube. At the Las Vegas Comedy Festival, Rocky was awarded Best Male Club Comedian of the Year, presented by George Wallace and Andy Kindler.
I remember, in a poll taken from comedy clubs around the country (including ours here in Tahoe), Rocky was voted as one of their favorites as best club comic. When not headlining clubs and theaters around the country, he's been asked to be the opener for such great acts as Louie Anderson, Garry Shandling, Drew Carey, Hootie and the Blowfish and the Righteous Brothers.
When not on the road, Rocky tries to perform as many fundraisers as he can, and has several that he always makes time for. Those would include St. Jude's for Children, various NFL charities, benefits for the homeless, cancer research and police and fire department fundraisers (his brother is a Chicago cop). Of all his credits, though, Rocky says that performing overseas for the troops is one of his greatest experiences. He's made several trips entertaining in a war zone and plans on returning as long as we're fighting a war overseas.
Rocky's personal, greatest achievement was being voted one of the funniest guys in his class at a recent G.E.D. reunion.
I believe this marks the third time that both Ron Morey and Rocky have worked together up here. Why? Well, Rocky is laid-back and has an understated undertone to his delivery, whereas Ron is the complete polar opposite.
Batteries tend to get charged up by Ron when he's working the room. He has this rapid-fire delivery that takes no prisoners. Ron has this energetic aura about him that carries out into the audience, and you find yourself laughing at him (with him, I mean) even before he's launched into whatever routine he's gearing up for.
His style (and act) is very unique, earning him a nomination to the list of the top five comics in the country by The Entertainment Business Journal.
Ron is one of those guys who keeps you in stitches off the stage as well as on. In fact (I hope he reads this article), he will kick into these incredible impersonations of Johnny Carson and Jay Leno. Ron, please incorporate some of your voices into your show, OK?
He does, however, do a very funny impersonation of a trombone player and how they never seem to get the babes, always losing out to the singers and guitarists.
The last time Morey was here, several prominent trombonists from the San Francisco, Cleveland and San Diego Symphony made a road trip to see Ron. Now that is one hell of a testimonial, folks.
Ron also is a regular at the Improvs in Hollywood and Las Vegas, and has opened for such diverse acts as George Lopez, Tracy Morgan, Ellen DeGeneres, and D. L. Hughley.
Ron, too, has performed overseas working for the USO in places such as Italy, Greece, Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait and Germany. On television Ron has been on NFL Films, PBS, A&E and even on Snoop Dogg's MTV show, "DoggyFizzle Televizzle." Snoop could not have found a "whiter" guy than Morey, and Ron played it to the hilt.
Ron is worth the ticket price alone (unless you win a pair on my radio show when they're both on), but having Rocky on the same bill only makes it that much sweeter.
Rocky and Ron (sounds like a buddy flick) together again. What a show!