Chicago comics LaPorte and Elwood back at Improv | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Chicago comics LaPorte and Elwood back at Improv

Howie Nave

The Improv lineup: Howie Nave, Rocky LaPorte and Graham Elwood.

What could possibly be said about Rocky LaPorte, the headliner this week at the Improv, that hasn’t been mentioned before? Well, for one thing Rocky’s been so busy as of late that he actually has had to book time where he doesn’t do anything!

Having to book yourself to have a week of no stress from not having to travel, no TSA checkpoints and being able to sleep in the same time zone for an entire week.

Truth be known, Rocky loves coming up here because the air is so clean compared to his home city of Chicago. He loves the Windy City but has been traveling back and forth to Los Angeles because of an increase in auditions for movies, club work and meetings.

If you talk to any comic who is worth their weight in gold they’ll tell you that Rocky is not only one of the best but also one of the nicest guys out there. He has helped so many comics get a break (and get work too) just by having them get booked with him. He’ll request certain acts especially if a club or theater owner really wants to book Rocky. Major headliners are always seeking him out as well just for the opportunity to share the stage with him because they know he is one of the best out there on the comedy scene. Brad Garrett (who just performed in these parts) tries to get Rocky booked with him and even has him fly with him to the gigs in his private jet. Part of it is his demeanor when off stage. I mean he is hilarious on stage but off stage he’s just as funny. Couple that with his very distinctive delivery and you get a clue as to why Rocky is so in demand.

We’re still waiting for Rocky to get a sitcom because that way he can actually remain on one place. That and because a lot of comics also want to be writers for him.

Rocky has done his fair share of television shows over the years. His first time on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” he got a standing ovation and we’re wondering when is he going to get booked back on that show? I can’t think of too many comics getting a standing “O” their first time out. He’s also been reading for a number of movie roles. Tim Allen has taken a liking to Rocky, having him appear in the Disney remake of “The Shaggy Dog” and also casingt him in “Crazy On the Outside.”

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For all his accolades though Rocky still loves performing in front of a live audience. That’s where I think he shines the most. It’s that instant recognition and feedback that he enjoys best. His Comedy Central special airs frequently and Rocky finally has his first CD out that you can get both online and or after the show this week. You can also catch him on Showtime as part of the all-Italian ensemble, “The Godfathers of Comedy” which has been airing on a semi-regular basis for the past few months now.

He’s also sought after for performing overseas. One of those tour of duties in Iraq yielded a Showtime special called “Patriot Act: a Jeffrey Ross Home Movie” in which fellow comics Jeff Ross and Drew Carey were captured unabridged performing at a wide variety of locales ranging from military installations to small, FOB in and around Iraq. Before that Rocky did several USO comedy tours in Kuwait and Afghanistan. Off all his major accomplishments though I think Rocky says getting his GED from New York City was a personal highlight. I hope it comes in handy and leads to bigger and better things.

When I think of comedian Graham Elwood, several images pop into my mind.

The first one is guy who makes me laugh. I mean really laugh out loud. Graham Elwood is just plain funny for funny’s sake. Part of that comes from his infectious laugh and that is one reason every Thursday I try to get him to crack up when I call him for our radio segment called, “Graham’s Crackers.”

Another reason I like Graham so much is his ability to adapt. I think that’s in part because of the nature of the business. I mean he has a great website out called ComedyFilmNerds.com which has everything one can hope for in the world of movies, comedy and opinions from established writers and performers many who are comedians themselves. He also has a podcast that he delivers pretty frequently that he co-created with fellow comedian and filmmaker, Chris Mancini.

Graham has performed overseas six times now, three in Afghanistan, three in Iraq. I was fortunate to be on one of those tours when we performed in Kuwait and Iraq three years ago. It made a world of difference being in a war zone with somebody you like both on and off stage. He has a DVD entitled, “Comedy From the Front Lines: Live From Afghanistan” from one of those tours and also a brand new CD, “The Comedian’s Got A Boo Boo”that is available after his shows this week .

This marks Graham’s second time here this year and, like Rocky is also a Chicago native. He honed his skills in comedy doing clubs and colleges with a style that is part sarcastic hipster, part game show host and part improvisation. There’s more parts to this equation but I can’t remember all of them. He’s really adept and poking fun of himself too which has its own kind of delivery.

Effortlessly absurd and silly, this professional wise-ass is one of the most versatile comics on the scene. Be it clubs or a corporate event, colleges, coffee houses, bowling alleys – anywhere there is a stage and people you’ll find Graham Elwood.

Graham started doing television on USA Network’s “Strip Poker.” He was also seen on “The Test” on the F/X Network and on “The Late Late Show” on CBS. He also directed a short indie movie entitled “Hello Junkie,” which received very nice reviews when ir screened at the Sundance Film Festival.