Rocky LaPorte’s entrance into comedy began in disruptive fashion when his goal — to make his grade school classmates laugh — often got him kicked out of his Chicago classroom.
“I was a typical goof,” said the 60-year-old comedian, who will perform four shows — two on Friday and two on Saturday — at the Comedy Loft. “I could make people laugh and was always getting into trouble for it.”
LaPorte's high jinks, it seems, often interfered with the educational process. He remembers spending a lot of time in the hallway. The timeouts, designed to provide some quiet time that might help him see the error of his ways, actually had the opposite effect.
“I’d be out in the hall trying to think of what I was going to do next,” he recalled.
Typical comedian. Always trying to figure out how to top the previous bit. That theme has carried over to a comedy career that has spanned four decades.
What next, indeed.
LaPorte has done the late-night television tour. He had a Comedy Central special, had a guest spot on the iconic television show “Cheers,” got a part in the 2006 remake of the movie “The Shaggy Dog” and was a finalist on season eight of NBC’s “Last Comic Standing.”
“He’s amazingly funny,” says Bob Rook, a co-owner of the Comedy Loft who books all of the acts. “He’s one of my favorite comedians.”
Now based in Southern California, LaPorte finds himself in the midst of a national tour that will take him to at least 10 cities, including Milwaukee, Cleveland and Nashville, over the next two months.
“I love what I’m doing,” said LaPorte, who was actually doing his laundry when he took time for this interview. “I love going to the different cities and meeting the people.”
The last time he was in Cleveland, he was booed as he took the stage after being introduced as a Chicago native. It seems Cleveland was still smarting from the Indians’ World Series loss to the Cubs a few months earlier.
He shrugged it off by telling the audience that he understood.
“I’m a White Sox fan,” he told them. “I hate the Cubs, too.”
In mere seconds, he had won them over. They then started booing him for being a White Sox fan -- a far more benign offense at that time, he said.
“You have to know your audience,” he said, adding that in this time of national strife, political humor is something he stays away from.
“People want to escape everything that’s going on in the world,” he said. “I want to give them some laughs. … In the Midwest, you have to go a little easier, which works for me because I’m not a dirty comic.”
Towns like Lincoln are his favorite to play because there is genuine excitement for his shows.
“There are a bunch of nice people in small towns,” he said. “Small towns are the best because you can feel the enthusiasm. It’s like the circus is coming to town.”