Friday, Jan. 18, 2002 | 9:56 a.m.
Joe Delaney's column appears on Thursdays and Fridays. Reach him at 259-4066 or [email protected]
Louie Anderson, comedy's gentle giant, starts a fortnight's stand tonight in the Rio's Samba Theatre ... Anderson's comedic style belies his Comedy Store origins ... He tells very funny, true-life anecdotes, the human comedy; hitting home, one-on-one, with the entire audience ... It's not the usual set-up/punch-line format; Anderson is the consummate storyteller.
He is both a wit and a humorist, with the accent on the latter ... A breed apart from the norm, there is no anger, no scatology, no cheap laughs. A minimum of 20 minutes of each performance is spent chatting with the audience, impromptu, free-form, whatever the subject ... This means you can catch Anderson more than once each time he performs here.
Since Anderson took over the host role on the syndicated TV game show "Family Feud" (which airs locally Monday through Friday at 7:30 p.m. on KVBC Channel 3), the show's ratings have more than doubled ... His Emmy-winning "Life With Louie," a Fox cartoon series, is in syndication with eventual ownership of rights reverting to Anderson.
Growing up as the 10th of 11 children in a very poor St. Paul, Minn., family, Anderson's life was made even more difficult because of a talented but sometimes abusive, alcoholic father ... Anderson and his 10 brothers and sisters, five of each, were raised by their mother in a city housing project. His late mother remains a profound and continuing influence.
A compulsive eater since childhood, his weight was his initial source of laughs as a comedian ... He made his stage debut at a small Minneapolis nightclub -- on a dare -- in 1978. He knew immediately this would be his calling ... He tried California but returned to Minnesota and decided to produce his own television special ... Showtime picked it up; it was an instant success.
He made Mitzi Shore's Comedy Stores in Los Angeles and Las Vegas his operating base in the 1980s ... This led to a 20-week tour with Roseanne just prior to her successful sitcom ... He has been an in-demand Las Vegas headliner at major venues, starting in 1990 ... The Rio Samba Theatre looks like an ideal room for Anderson.
A best-selling author, television producer and performer as well as an actor in films, he is a gentle man and a comedic gentleman as well ... His first book, "Dear Dad -- Letters From an Adult Child," was a best seller ... He is working on a documentary, "Complicated Laughter," dealing with a one-time family reunion along with conversations with his late mother.
Pack up the entire family, including Grandma and Grandpa, and treat them to an evening of wholesome, hearty laughter with Anderson at the Rio Samba Theatre.
On successive Sundays, the Delaneys were able to enjoy the artistry of Tony Bennett at Paris Las Vegas, an incredibly good performance by Mandy Patinkin in University of Nevada, Las Vegas' Ham Hall, part of the "Best of New York Stage Series," and Sunday, the closing performance of "Cheval" ... Las Vegas is rapidly coming of age, culturally.
"Best of the New York Stage Series" continues with "Ailey II" on Jan. 26; singers Dianne Reeves in February; and Linda Eder, March; then closes with Michael Feinstein, Ann Hampton Calloway plus Big Kahuna and the Copa Cat Pack in April, a most impressive lineup ... Opera star Frederica Von Stade is next for the Charles Vanda Master Series, Feb. 1; each event deserves a full house.
Following the lead of Nevada Dance Theatre's association with the Rio, the Nevada Opera Theatre will perform at Paris Las Vegas' Le Theatre des Arts, starting with "La Traviata," Feb. 1-2; "Gigi," June 8-9; and "Can Can," Sept. 7-8 ... Season tickets are available, as well as single tickets for all the events listed above ... See you next Thursday.