It is hard to envision Louie Anderson entering his twilight years as an entertainer.
Anderson seems perpetually youthful, possibly owing to his animated series, Life with Louie, that was a hit for Fox in the 1990s and was based on his dysfunctional childhood in a Minneapolis project. Or because of his stint as the jolly, cherubic, joke-cracking host of Family Feud.
But life does not stay frozen in syndication. Time marches on, even for one of the funniest and most celebrated comics of his era. In the fall, Anderson will mark the 40th anniversary of his first stand-up gig, a three-minute dare during an open-mic competition at a Minneapolis comedy club.
“It was Oct. 10, 1978. I had lots of family and friends in the audience,” Anderson says by phone from Florida. “I still remember my first joke: ‘I can’t stay long. I’m in between meals.’
Comedian Louie Anderson will be performing on Saturday, March 10, at Monroe County Community College
“It’s been an amazing run. It feels like yesterday, but it’s been 40 years. I’m fortunate that people still enjoy coming out to see me.”
Anderson will be making a stop Saturday night at Monroe County Community College’s La-Z-Boy Center.
“I still do the clean, family friendly stuff. And I still use all the ‘f’ words — food, family, over 50,” he says, chuckling.
While his fans will recognize the themes of his act, they may have a harder time recognizing the slimmed down Anderson.
He never talks about pounds lost, but he has committed to living a healthier life since the death of his brother, Tommy, in 2016.
“I decided to eat healthier, swim, exercise. When my baby brother died a couple years ago, that had a big impact on me. It was a blow to me, and I decided that I should not be responsible for my own death,” Anderson says.
Anderson is the second youngest of 11 kids, with Tommy being the youngest. His brother was Anderson’s main confidante. He was prominently discussed in Anderson’s first major comedy special, 1989’s Mom! Louie’s Looking At Me Again! Anderson has said that Tommy also helped convince him to take on the character of Christine in FX’s Baskets.
In the series, which airs at 10 p.m. Tuesdays, Anderson is the mother of twin sons, Chip and Dale Baskets, played by Zach Galifianakis. The plot surrounds a family-owned rodeo, and the series led to a 2016 Emmy for Anderson for best supporting actor in a comedy series.
Though the series, which is in its third season, has resulted in professional success for Anderson, it also produced personal growth for the Minnesota native and inspired his latest book: Hey Mom: Stories for My Mother, But You Can Read Them Too. It will be available around Mother’s Day.
“When I started on Baskets, I started writing letters to my mom. You know, letters like how I wish I had been a better son. The process opened up a lot for me. It was very emotional. I hope after people read the book that they will give their parents a call.”
Ora Anderson died in 1990, but she still continues to influence Anderson in all areas of his life. Christine embodies her strength, compassion, and humor, Anderson says. Her courage still inspires him.
“I had an alcoholic father, and when you are living with an alcoholic, he becomes the focus of the family — is he drinking again? How much has he been drinking?” Anderson says. “My mom raised 11 kids, and she defiantly stood between us and dad. She was just a sweet, funny, good person.”
Writing and acting have become a significant part of Anderson’s life, but the biggest piece of his persona will always be stand-up comedy. Comedy Central has named Anderson as one of the 100 greatest comedians of all time. Anderson’s sixth one-hour comedy special, Big Underwear, will be available on April 3 on most major streaming platforms.
“I feel really good about my career. Who knows how long I’ll be able to do it? Comics don’t have the easiest road,” Anderson says.“I want people to feel happy and laugh. My goal is always to make it hard for people to breathe because they are laughing so hard.”
Louie Anderson will perform at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Monroe County Community College's La-Z-Boy Center, on the main campus, 1555 S. Raisinville Rd., Monroe.
Reserved seating is $25 and it is $35 for VIP seating, which includes balcony seating, snacks, and a cash bar. Tickets can be purchased on monroeccc.edu/theater, in person at the cashier’s office in the Warrick Student Services/Administration building, or by calling the MCCC ticket hot line at 734-384-4272.
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