Q+A Celebrity Connection: Louie Anderson

The larger-than-life comic opens up on his decades of standup and what may or may not be his first visit to Hilton Head Island.

Story by Barry Kaufman

Louie Anderson was introduced to the world by Johnny Carson and he hasn’t slowed down since. For a comedian whose act revolves around his portly stature (“I tried that beach life. Every time I’d lay down, people would push me back into the water.”) it’s an impressive career. At a stage in a storied career where many would be winding down, Anderson has hit his stride. In addition to regular touring, he’s earned an Emmy for his role as Christine Baskets on the hit FX show “Baskets,” he’s a regular panelist on the TV game show, “Funny You Should Ask,” his latest special “Big Underwear” is streaming now and he recently released his fourth book called “Hey Mom: Stories for My Mother, But You Can Read Them Too.”

In advance of his one-night-only shows at the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina, 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. on July 23, we sat down to chew the fat with the comedian Comedy Central named among “The 100 Greatest Stand-Up Comedians of All Time.”

Is this your first time on Hilton Head Island? [Louie Anderson] I think I was there a long time ago, but it would have been 20 some years. But I’m terrible with dates. People often say, ‘Oh, you were just here two years ago,’ and I go, ‘I was?’ I’ve heard it’s a beautiful place.

It must be hard to keep track after touring so long. [LA] This is my 40th year. Can you believe it?

Is it difficult touring while shooting “Baskets” and all of your other ventures? [LA] Touring is something I’ve done for so long… it’s just part of my life. It’s harder when you have press, touring and the show stuff. When it’s those three things it gets a little heavy. It’s easier to do the show all at once and touring all at once, but life doesn’t work like that. I love doing standup, so it’s a fantastic thing for me.

With “Baskets” just getting renewed, when do you start filming again? [LA] I think it’s February now. We’ll film for three months, and then I’ll do a tour in the fall or be in a movie. I got a part in a new movie with Renee Zellweger and the kid from “It.” It’s based on a book called “Heft.” Mike Nichols’ son, Max, is set to direct. I like the script a lot. It’s about a 500-pound professor. It’s always an amazing thing when I have to get fatter for a part.

So you’re keeping pretty busy. [LA] I have to be honest, I feel young again. I’m working really hard on my health, doing a lot of exercise and a lot of stuff. My health is really important to me, so I’ve been focusing on that. I just got done doing some leg exercises, which I can do on my bed which is a dream come true for me. I just go, ‘Is this really an exercise?’

My legs are getting strengthened and I’m having a blast. Now, I like working, so I’m thinking what am I going to do next? I’ve been working on the idea of writing a book about being a standup. Forty years is not bad for keeping a career going. I wish I would have known me when I was starting out. I wish someone had given me advice.”

And what advice would you have given yourself? [LA] Under every great joke there’s an even greater joke. That’s what standup is all about. Sometimes I work 10 years to find the joke under the joke. It’s very rewarding to find the joke that was lying there and I didn’t notice. I used to do a joke where my mom would say, ‘Louie what do you think I got this dress for?’ And I’d say $900? And she’d go ‘Louieeee, $900.’ That would get a little titter. Then one day, I said ‘Louie what do you think I got this outfit for?’ And I said, ‘Halloween?’ and the laugh became the roar. I looked for that joke. I knew I didn’t have the right joke and I knew there was a really great joke.

I love being a standup comic. I love the idea that I could always be better. When I get to Hilton Head, my goal is to be funnier than I was the day before. I just want to ask you one question. Will any of the Hiltons be at my show?

The Hiltons who came here died several hundred years ago, so let’s hope not. [LA] What are the dumb questions you guys always get asked there?

The dumbest question we get is where’s the beach. It’s an island. [LA] You should just point them toward the alligator. Good luck! Hey, just keep walking that way, Mister.

Louie on Life

“We all think we’re going to get out of debt.”

“Minnesotans really think they run the whole world, I love that.”

“It’s so much easier to be cynical.”

“If I were the last person on earth, some moron would turn left in front of me.”

“You have to be honest enough to say, ‘I’m that messed-up one in the family.’”

“My inspiration is coming more and more from the way I feel and the gratitude I feel. The older you get the more humility you have.”

“My first words were ‘Seconds, please.’ Most kids in kindergarten napped on a little rug. I had a braided 9×12.”

“My mom ate every piece of butter in the Midwest, she lived till she was 90. And my dad, he smoked, he drank — we finally just had to kill him.”

See Louie Live

What: Comedy of Louie Anderson
5 p.m. and 8 p.m., Monday, July 23
Arts Center of Coastal Carolina
Iconic comedian Louie Anderson, a three-time Emmy Award winner, is in town for one night only. Tickets are $47. The show is suited for all ages. Artshhi.com, 843-842-2787

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