One of the plum rewards of winning Last Comic Standing is a development deal with NBC to see if the network can make a sitcom star out of the stand-up comedian champion.
Rocky LaPorte, who made the final five on Last Comic this summer, may not have won that deal this year. But LaPorte does not what that sensation feels like.
Back in 2000, LaPorte starred in The Rocky LaPorte Show, a multi-cam sitcom pilot for CBS and Paramount that you don’t remember because the network never picked it up to series. That fate befalls hundreds of development deals and dozens of pilots each “Pilot Season.”
What’s different about LaPorte’s: Not only can we watch the full, unaired sitcom pilot. But we also can get a sense for how LaPorte and his would-be sitcom colleagues felt about it. The Chicago Tribune paid a set visit to The Rocky LaPorte Show in spring 2000.
The pilot’s writer/producer, Victor Fresco, would go on to create Andy Richter Controls The Universe and Better Off Ted, and write for My Name is Earl; Fresco’s most recent producing credits were on NBC’s short-lived Go On and Sean Saves The World. Director Andy Ackerman has a ton of TV credits since working on LaPorte’s pilot; most recently, FOX’s new Mulaney sitcom, the pilot for The McCarthys on CBS, and NBC’s Whitney.
But what about LaPorte? He had a bit part in a Cheers episode right out of the gates, but after this unaired pilot, not much in the way of acting credits.
LaPorte did film a half-hour for Comedy Central and stand-up showcases for Canada through Just For Laughs.
If he seemed like a possible anchor for a CBS family sitcom in 2000 — LaPorte’s Midwestern charm certainly would have fit right in with the hit sitcoms of Ray Romano and Kevin James — perhaps 14 years later, you could even more easily see him sliding into something now, just as the network took a renewed chance on Billy Gardell with Mike & Molly.
Here’s what Fresco had to say about The Rocky LaPorte Show just a few days before CBS would announce its Fall 2000 lineup, telling the Chicago Tribune: “People can be very confident and high on a project, and it could still not get ordered,” he says. “Or you can feel people are indifferent about a project, and it can get ordered. You rely on a lot of buzz around town, but nothing means anything until the (Upfronts announcement).”
Once more, or for your first time, a look at 2000’s pilot for The Rocky LaPorte Show, starring Rocky LaPorte and co-starring Ann Cusack and Matthew Glave. Written by Victor Fresco and directed by Andy Ackerman: