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What's Up Magazine

Emmy Award-Winning Comedian Talks Career, Baskets, and Zach Galifianakis

Jun 15, 2017 04:00PM ● By Nicole Gould
Louie Anderson made his national television debut in 1984 on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, opening several doors for the iconic actor and stand-up comedian.

Growing up as one of 11 children, Anderson decided to take his childhood experiences and turn them into an animated series, Life with Louie. The series flourished, resulting in three Humanitas Prizes, making him the only three-time recipient of the award. It later earned a Genesis Award and two Emmy Awards.

This Minnesota native has taken his comedic humor and turned it into a three-time Emmy Award-Winning comedy performance. Named by Comedy Central as “One of 100 Greatest Stand-Up Comedians of All Time,” Anderson continues to propel his career forward with his newest television comedy series, Baskets.

Embodying his character after his own mother and pulling inspiration from five sisters, Anderson steps into the role of the Costco-loving matriarch Christine Baskets on the FX hit series created by Louis C.K, Zach Galifianakis, and Jonathan Krisel. His uniquely crafted role landed Anderson his third Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series.

“When you wear women’s clothes, a wig, makeup, and put lipstick on, you really try to make the part yours. It was interesting, it was fun, it was challenging, and I really enjoyed it. Have you ever been at a water park or on the top of a hill where you go, “Ok, here it goes, I can’t guarantee what’s going to happen.” Here it goes is a good way to say I kind of went head first into it.”Louie Anderson

Alongside the countless accomplishments and awards he’s acquired, Anderson is also a well-known stand-up comic, discussing all of his favorite f words; fat, being over fifty, family, food, and father.

Louie Anderson will be performing with Michael Aronin at Rams Head on Stage as part of their Laughs & Drafts Comedy Series, Sunday June 18th. Show times are 5:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. with tickets at $35. There will be craft beer pitches and domestic bottle bucket specials at every comedy show and every ticket holder will receive a free Fordham & Dominion brewery tour. So, what are you waiting for? Grab dad and head out for a Father’s Day filled with drinks and laughter!

When you won the Emmy for the show last year, would you say this was a pinnacle moment for not only the show, but for your career?

It was a milestone for me. I loved it and I’m proud of it. I got to really honor my mom in the speech and I really got to say thank you to all my brothers and sisters. I really hope it brought more eyeballs onto the show because that’s what really matters. We like working, love the show, and we feel like we’re really doing something special and want people to keep watching.

Growing up in Minnesota as one of 11 children, when did you decided that you wanted to become a comedian? Where you always interested in comedy or was it something that developed for you over time? Who inspires you today versus 30 years ago?

I didn’t really think about being a comedian until I was working and we were at a comedy club. We went to the bar we used to hang out at and there were comics playing that night. I said “These guys aren’t funny,” and my friend said, “If you’re so funny, you try it.” So, I did. I signed up for the next week and told myself that I was going to do it one time for the fun of it. People are always laughing when I talk and when I tell them I’m being serious, they laugh even harder.

I went up the next week and my family and friends were there. I had a wonderful time, figured it would be a wonderful job, and be fun. I always watched comedians on TV. They were the thing that was interesting to me. I kept doing it in Minnesota. I tried it in 1978 and have been doing it ever since.

I love Bill Burr, I think he’s so funny. Pete Holmes, is another really, really funny comedian. Zach Galifianakis is so fantastically original, so funny, and I love his delivery. Louis C.K. is so talented. There are so many great comics. It inspires me to see people do comedy. It makes me work harder.

Did your role in “Coming to America” and working with Eddie Murphy blast off your career or was it “The Tonight Show” with Carson?

Both things were great for me. The movie really gave me a whole new audience. “The Tonight Show” probably propelled me as a standup comedian and the movie thing has given me fond memories and it was so much fun, I learned so much.

How much did your cartoon comedy “Life with Louie” truly mirror your own upbringing? What was it like to become the only person who has one 3 Humanitas Prizes for the series?

I mean it was pretty close. I changed a lot of the things that were a little too serious or too harsh. All the stuff was either me or the other creators lives as kids. They were all things that happened to me and I based the father and mother and all that really closely on my own family.

It was really great. Especially the Humanist and Golden Arch award. I always tried in the cartoon to put something good, something serious, and something that meant something. That’s what really mattered to me.

In your show, Baskets, you portray Zack Galifianakis’s mother. What attracted you to the role of Christine? Growing up with five sisters, is there anything you learned from them and your mother that you have used to assist you in this role?

Zach and Louis called me and asked if I would play a part in Zach’s sitcom. I said yes, of course. They asked if would play the mother. I said yes, I love it.

When you wear women’s clothes, a wig, makeup, and put lipstick on, you really try to make the part yours. It was interesting, it was fun, it was challenging, and I really enjoyed it. Have you ever been at a water park or on the top of a hill where you go, “Ok, here it goes, I can’t guarantee what’s going to happen.” Here it goes is a good way to say I kind of went head first into it.

Oh yeah! I learned that I was always wrong. I guess what I learned is that women stick together a lot more than men do. Women are about relationships and men are about how they’re viewed and how they look. I guess women are too, but women are more about relationships and friendships and men are more “Hey, how’s it going?” Women really are more connected. I think they help us men connect more with the stuff we should be connecting to.

What’s it like working with Zach Galifianakis? How often or not do you go off script? Do you improvise on set and does that ever make the final cut in an episode?

Omg he’s a dream. You know what’s so great about Zach? He’s such a wonderful human being. He is always trying to make you laugh and he’s always trying to crack you up when you’re doing a serious scene, that’s his goal. He’s a really, really great actor. That’s what I love.

I learned so much about acting from him that its made a difference in my acting. I just love him. He’s one of the nicest people in the world and he’s really spontaneous. No one works harder than that guy, it’s amazing.

Every chance we get, we try to do that. What we want is the best scene, but we try stuff all the time and everyone goes along with. Jonathan Krisel is such a great director that he allows us a lot of freedom. The best stuff always gets in.

When you’re not filming, you’re off traveling to perform stand-up comedy. How do you continue to stay fresh and contemporary with your comedy year over year, decade over decade? What are the sort of topics you discuss while performing?

I think you have to keep doing new material and that’s what I’m doing. I’m working on a whole new hour and planning to do a bunch of it for this show. I think it’s important to stretch out and get as much out of it as you can. I think people like to see some of your old stuff, but I like to do the new stuff, it invigorates you and you have to stay in the now.

I don’t touch much on politics, not that interested. My thing is all the f words, fat, being over fifty, family, food, father, all that stuff. My act is clean and I use all the f words.

Through all of your years as a comedian, performing not only stand up, but also working on sitcoms, has there ever been a standout moment, one that will always stick with you? Any embarrassing moments?

Welcoming home the troops from the first Desert Storm war and playing at the White House for President Reagan and Mrs. Reagan. Those were pinnacle times in my life. Going to Okinawa to play for the troops. Those are the kinds of things I really love.

I’ve done a few shows with my fly down and didn’t know until the end. I don’t care who you are, you’re always embarrassed by that.

Once time I told a joke to someone in the crowd and said “Can’t you hear me?” The people with him said that he was deaf, but reads lips. I said “Oh, sorry, but how did you like my joke?”