As a good sport, comedian Piscopo might just liven up casino atmosphereBy John L. Smith, CDC Gaming ReportsSeptember 10, 2018 at 8:00 pmCARSON CITY — The Joe Piscopo I remember made me laugh out loud. And I wasn’t alone.I suspect all TV viewers of a certain age cackled at Piscopo’s playfully maniacal sports anchor character on “Saturday Night Live,” as everyone likes to say, back when the show was funnier. (Each generation of “SNL” viewer remembers its cast of players as the most hilarious.)And the moment Piscopo gave the world his Sinatra sendup, he owned the airwaves. At least in my memory.But times and tastes change, and even a great Sinatra impression is no guarantee of long-term success on stage and screen. The New Jersey native co-starred with Michael Keaton in “Johnny Dangerously” and “Wise Guys,” a couple of mob comedies, and many other features and television dramas and sit-coms.In other words, even though Piscopo’s not No. 1 on the hit parade he’s kept very busy. His wiki-bio lists him as a “comedian, actor, musician, writer, and a nationally syndicated radio talk show host.” He also paints houses and caters bar mitzvahs. (Sorry. That was me trying to be funny.)Joe Piscopo on his morning radio showThese days Piscopo entertains listeners with his morning radio show on AM 970. He occasionally makes waves when he speaks out on politics or critically tweaks something on “SNL.” His comment following an appearance on the show of adult film actress Stormy Daniels generated the usual noise you’d expect in the Trump era. The ensuing dustup featured remarks by Alec Baldwin and a Piscopo appearance on Fox, added up to nothing, but probably drove traffic to Piscopo’s website.Lately Piscopo has made news in Nevada for a different reason. He’s signed on to headline a new sitcom pilot called “Casino Boss,” scheduled to take place inside the Carson Nugget Casino just down the street from the state Capitol.So, we know it will at least be funny when the Legislature is in session.Piscopo will be joined by one of the funniest people I know, Bob Zany, who also knows his way around a casino floor. The pilot was written by Nugget owner Dean DiLullo. Directed by Yvette Fintland, filming took place in August.DiLullo clearly enjoys what Piscopo brings to the story. In a press missive the actual casino boss said, “Piscopo is charismatic and his singing and acting can take you back to the golden era of Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack. Joe has been a friend for years and has hosted the grand opening of my casinos. It’s always high-energy when Piscopo is in the house.”Casino-based television series are nothing new, but they are almost always set amid the resort icons of Las Vegas. From “Vega$” and “Vegas,” to “LA to Vegas” and the awful reality television show “The Casino,” the city itself is enough to attract viewers. It’s up to the writing and acting to carry the show from there, and that’s usually where the system breaks down.Meaning no disrespect to Piscopo and his friend DiLullo, Carson City is no Las Vegas. It’s not Tahoe. Or Reno. Or Sparks, for that matter.The heart of Carson is growing and redeveloping, but it’s not following a casino-centric model. The Ormsby House is a shuttered and ponderous elephant, and Cactus Jack’s is a smoky slot joint.For its part, the Carson Nugget sticks out on Carson Street and pulses with an old-school vibe. While there’s only so much you can do to a casino built in an era when the table games and slots were the main attraction, the Nugget is lively throughout the house.According to its promotional material, the show will be loosely based on the Nugget’s history. In some ways, it might be better that it is a venerable place trying to compete with Native American casinos in California and increasingly sophisticated places on the edge of Carson and in nearby Gardnerville and Minden.DiLullo deserves credit for his out-of-the-box approach to promotion, and he’s right about pal’s energy, too.If Piscopo shows even flashes of his best material and peppers the show with Zany and other pros he has on speed dial, DiLullo may just put Carson City on the comedy map.And if a finger-snapping Jersey guy who sounds a lot like Sinatra pops off along the way, it just might be good for business.Contact John L. Smith at email@example.com. On Twitter: @jlnevadasmith.