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Comic Rocky LaPorte stands up to adversity, coming to Penguins Friday and Saturday

ROCKY LAPORTE PHOTO

After a rocky start in school, Rocky LaPorte found his career path paved with humor. He’s bringing his stand-up show to Penguins Comedy Club in Cedar Rapids on Friday (2/1) and Saturday (2/2).
ROCKY LAPORTE PHOTO After a rocky start in school, Rocky LaPorte found his career path paved with humor. He’s bringing his stand-up show to Penguins Comedy Club in Cedar Rapids on Friday (2/1) and Saturday (2/2).

Good comics turn garbage into gold. When things go wrong, it’s often turned into material.

“That’s how it usually goes,” comic Rocky LaPorte said by phone from his Chicago home. “There’s not many jobs where you can have an awful experience and it’ll help you, but being a stand-up is very different than most other jobs.”

LaPorte has had a rough start to 2019. It’s not easy to tell jokes when your mouth is in disarray from oral surgery.

“I had to get a root canal,” he said. “A tooth was cracked and they had to cut (into) bone two weeks ago. So I have all of these stitches in my mouth. I haven’t found the humor in it yet. That’s especially when I look at the bills. But maybe I’ll find the humor in it by the time I get to Cedar Rapids.”

LaPorte, who will appear Friday (2/1) and Saturday (2/2) at Penguins Comedy Club in Cedar Rapids, often takes his experiences and jokes about them.

“What I go through is usually relatable,” he said. “People go through ups and downs. People have painful dental issues. What I usually joke about connects with the audience.”

When the laid-back humorist was growing up, it was apparent that a typical job would not work best for him. The Windy City native, who has been a stand-up since the late ’80s, had serious issues as a student.

“I got terrible grades,” he said. “I’m not kidding around or exaggerating when I tell you that I actually got an ‘F-’ when I was in fourth and fifth grade. I got a few ‘F-s’ back then. You really have to go the extra mile to get an ‘F-’ as a student. I got straight ‘F’s’ in fourth and fifth grade but they kept sending me to the next grade. That’s what they do. Maybe they were afraid that I would be too big for the desks if they kept holding me back.”

LaPorte is a quick, cerebral character onstage.

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“I’m not dumb,” he said. “I think you can see that when you catch my show, but I just wasn’t a person that was geared toward having success in school. I’m sure I surprised some of my classmates when they saw me on television.”

After killing on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” in 2004, actor Tim Allen was so taken with LaPorte that he asked him to be part of his 2006 film “The Shaggy Dog.”

“There are some good guys in Hollywood and Tim is one of them,” LaPorte said. “When you have an opportunity, like performing on ‘The Tonight Show,’ you do your best to take advantage of it.”

“The Tonight Show” has always been a holy grail for comics. Such iconic standups as Steven Wright and Jeff Foxworthy still gush about the impact the show had on their careers.

“It’s huge to be on ‘The Tonight Show,’” LaPorte said. “It might not have the effect it would have had in 1973, but it’s still so big. Performing on ‘The Tonight Show’ is one of the highlights of my career.”

LaPorte fared well as one of the contestants on the eighth season of “Last Comic Standing,” which aired in 2014.

“It was fun since I ended up being one of the finalists,” he said. “I was asked to be part of the ‘Last Comic Standing’ tour. I’m all about getting my name out there. I’ll do whatever I can to get to the next level. I’m willing to talk to promote.”

Even with a mouth full of stitches. “This is just a little adversity,” he said.

Get Out!

WHAT: Rocky LaPorte

WHERE: Penguins Comedy Club, 208 Second Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids

WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday (2/1) and Saturday (2/2)

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TICKETS: $13 advance, $15 show day; (319) 362-8133 or Penguinscomedyclub.com

ARTIST’S WEBSITE: Rockylaporte.com

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