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An Interview With Louie Anderson

By Danny Coleman

originally published: 06/23/2017

An Interview With Louie Anderson“I never wanted to be a comic. It’s not something that I ever said I wanted to grow up and be,” said world class comedian and actor Louie Anderson who performed at South Orange Performing Arts Center on June 17.

Be it by accident or eventually by design, he’s turned being a comedian into an award winning career. “I went with some friends to a comedy club and saw these guys who I didn’t think were really very funny,” he recounted in an almost apologetic tone. “So when we left, my friends said to me, ‘If you think you’re funnier, you should give it a try’ and I thought; why not? So I went back to the same club the next week and I did well and thought to myself, hey, I can do this and I haven’t stopped since.”

Three Emmy awards, countless movie and television appearances as well as being named by Comedy Central as, “One of 100 Greatest Stand-up Comedians of All Time,” has all come his way over the last 30 years. However, like most, it was timing and a nice break that led to his career opening up.  After deciding to pursue comedy, he entered the 1981 Midwest Comedy Competition, hosted by comedic legend Henny Youngman.  Anderson took home the first place trophy. Youngman found his work and style to his liking and employed him as a writer.

Youngman is one of several key comedic influences who shaped Anderson’s career; others include Bob Hope, Jack Benny, and the great Johnny Carson.  Anderson made his national television debut on Carson’s Tonight Show in 1984.

“Johnny, Bob Hope, they had such great writers,” he stated. “I learned so much from these guys.  And Johnny, well he was a friend to all young comedians; I’d have to say he was my favorite. Johnny was a mid-western guy like me and we have similarities. Jack Benny had the timing. I mean the way he’d just roll the eyes or give that look was perfect. Bob Hope, I modeled my delivery somewhat after him. Hope had this way of delivering his material that was, well, there’s not been anyone like him since.”



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Word spread quickly of Louie’s style, at times self-deprecating, mixed with stories of his family, his childhood, and friends.  Soon Hollywood and television came calling. 

“I thought I might be a singer,” he laughed. “My dad was a jazz trumpet player. He played for Hoagy Carmichael’s band and he kind of helped steer me away from that; he was a glass is half empty kind of guy. Growing up with so many siblings (Louie is one of eleven children), I have no shortage of material and my life was funny at times. When I got the call to be in the Eddie Murphy movie, Coming To America, that was nice; especially since it helped open some doors for me. Margaret Loesch of ‘Fox Kids’ approached me shortly thereafter and said, ‘We think you could do a series.’  She introduced me to the animator Matt O’Callaghan and he drew me some pictures. I was totally enamored with the idea so we made a pilot episode and it was well received so Fox said, ‘let’s make another 13 episodes.’  We did that for three years and then they sold the program and the network and that ended the run.”

The run produced three Emmy awards for Anderson and the animated series; one for, “Outstanding Sound Editing” and two for, “Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program.” It also garnered three Humanitas Prize awards for animation in a children’s series. “That felt great and was unexpected,” says Anderson of the Emmy awards. “It was very fun being nominated and I was surprised when I won because I was up against Ed Asner and Robin Williams.”

Anderson was part of a class of comics when he began in the ‘80s that were fortunate to be able to take their acts to places all over the globe via the growth of cable television. HBO half hour specials as well as taped programs from comedy clubs such as Dangerfield’s, Caroline’s, and The Improv. When asked who he fancied as a comedian, either a peer or of today’s generation, he confidently responded “Jim Gaffigan.” 

“Gaffigan is a lovely human being,” said Anderson.  “I love all comedians because I know what they go through and I’m a big fan of comedy, but Jim is special. How anyone can have that much material and stay above board is a true talent. He keeps it clean and he’s funny.” 

These days, Anderson keeps busy with his stand-up and the role of Christine Baskets on the hit FX comedy series, Baskets, for which he won his third and most recent Emmy in 2016. Louie plays the part of a woman, a role which he modeled after his mother and sisters. He also includes the character into his current routine. 

What can we expect from Louie in the future? “More stand-up, more new material, I’m working on a new one hour special, my sixth one of those. I’m going to be on Colbert doing stand-up; my life is as good as it gets now and I’m really enjoying myself.”




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Sebastian Maniscalco Adds Third Show at MSG
(NEW YORK, NY) -- The Madison Square Garden Company and Outback Concerts announced that due to overwhelming demand Sebastian Maniscalco has added a third show at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, January 19, 2019 at 10:00pm, in addition to the previously announced shows on Saturday, January 19, 2019 at 7:00pm and Sunday, January 20, 2019 at 7:00pm.  
Paula Poundstone To Return To NJPAC
(NEWARK, NJ) -- Spend a hysterical evening with Paula Poundstone at New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) on Friday April 12, 2019, a regular panelist on NPR's popular Wait, Wait ... Don't Tell Me! and a long-reigning queen of the stand-up stage, known for her smart, observational humor and spontaneous wit. Tickets are $49.
Fall Improv Class for Adults and Teens Enrolling at Dreamcatcher
(SUMMIT, NJ) -- Dreamcatcher Repertory Theatre, professional Theatre in Residence at the Oakes Center in Summit, will offer an Open Level Improv class for adults and teens beginning October 6.
The Price Is Right Comes To MPAC
(MORRISTOWN, NJ) -- Mayo Performing Arts Center will play host to The Price is Right Live (TM) stage show on Thursday, October 11 at 8:00pm. Tickets range from $49-$69. The Morristown event will be hosted by Mark. L Walberg, host of Antiques Roadshow.
Newton Theatre Presents Brad Williams
(NEWTON, NJ) -- Pound for pound, Brad Williams is the funniest comedian in the country right now, and has become one of the most in-demand comedians working today. See for yourself when Williams performs at The Newton Theatre on Friday, March 15, 2019 at 8:00pm.  Tickets start at $32.


“Hysterical!” Gallagher LIVE! at The Strand Lakewood
Gallagher is joking with patrons in the lobby of Lakewood, NJ’s historic Strand Theater this Thursday, May 24, 2018 evening. In his audacious style, he’s grabbing cameras out of the hands of patrons who want to take great selfies with him, while also taking the time to sign T-shirts for stand-up comedy fans waiting for him at the merch table.
So You Want To Be A Comedian?
“I feel I have the kind of life where people think I’m making things up all of the time, but weirdness is kind of attracted to me,” said Jess Alaimo, a comedian from Monmouth County.  “So, I just go with whatever happens to me.”
The United States of Russia
Rutgers alum, Ben Rosenfeld released his third comedy album in January.  Entitled, The United States of Russia, the album was released by Comedy Dynamics and continues the Russia born, American raised comedian’s style of mixing tales of his immigrant parents and outsider childhood with topics ranging from millennials, terrorism, politics, and adjusting to life as a newlywed.  We caught up with Ben to talk about the album.
“We Came in as Strangers, but Now We’re Good Friends” Taylor Mason LIVE! at Ocean Grove’s Great Auditorium
It’s a beautiful summer night in Ocean Grove, NJ. As we stroll the boardwalk, folks are leaving the beach after a day of fun in the sun, whereas others are just arriving to enjoy the cool evening breeze.
Bad Hombres Comedy
Bad Hombres Comedy is a comedy group created by Brian Nichols, Paul Salazar Jr. and Bernardo Cubría.  The trio all studied together at the University of Houston and have kept in touch ever since.  Together, they create a weekly podcast and a video web series that satirizes the world we now live in thanks to Donald Trump.






Event calendar
Tuesday, Sep 25, 2018


MUSIC

Cafe Tacvba with special guest Ruen Brothers – Niu Gueis Tour 2018 @ Prudential Hall @ New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), Newark - 8:00pm

Seuls en Scene French Theater Festival - "Gonzo Conference" @ Donald G. Drapkin Studio at Lewis Arts complex, Princeton - 8:00pm

Joan Baez @ Count Basie Center For The Arts, Red Bank - 8:00pm

Record Club: Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon @ Pollak Theatre @ Monmouth University, West Long Branch - 7:30pm


KIDS

West End Festival of the Arts- Children's Storytelling @ West End Arts Center, Long Branch - 4:00pm

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