Las Vegas Sun

September 24, 2017

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Louie ‘thunders’ in

You shouldn't be confused when you walk into the Excalibur showroom, soon to be shared by the men of "Thunder From Down Under" and comedian Louie Anderson.

The Australian hunks are the ones with the six-pack abs.

Anderson is the one shaped like a beer keg.

Both shows are produced by Adam Steck's SPI Entertainment.

Beginning March 17, Anderson will perform at 7 p.m. and "Thunder" will follow with shows at 8:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.

Each will have its distinctive audiences - "Thunder" appealing to women out for a raucous night on the town, Anderson to the general population looking for a night of good, clean fun.

Not to worry, you won't see Anderson in a G-string.

"I'm a 7 o'clock act," Anderson said in a telephone interview from his home in Los Angeles. "My people want to go to a show, a dinner and then go home and go to bed."

The unusual venue came about because Anderson's business manager has a friend who is a friend of Steck.

"Adam was looking for a comedian to do a 7 o'clock show," Anderson said. "Two years ago, I was up for a 10 o'clock show at another hotel, but I didn't want a 10 o'clock show. It isn't my crowd and I didn't think it would work."

So when he learned about the opening for an earlier show, Anderson jumped at the chance.

"I'm really tired of traveling," the 53-year-old comic said.

Las Vegas was a familiar spot for the Minneapolis native to try to put down some roots.

He has performed here for many years, almost since his career began in the late '70s. He lived in Vegas for more than a decade in the '80s and '90s.

"I started a big part of my career in Vegas," Anderson said.

He often performed at the Dunes, which was imploded to make room for the Bellagio.

He was a regular at Bally's for 11 years and also worked at the Rio and the Orleans.

"I have a very warm spot in my heart for Vegas," Anderson said.

He noted that when he started performing here, there were only about 20 shows a night in town.

"Now there are what, over 100?" he said.

The competition doesn't bother him.

"If I can get two people to come to see me, I'm happy," he said.

Anderson says Las Vegas is a natural place for comedians.

"Theatrical actors go to Broadway, movie actors go to Hollywood and comedians go to Vegas," he said.

Anderson says he is friends with the comedians currently headlining here - Rita Rudner, George Wallace, David Brenner, Carrot Top.

Each offers their own brand of humor, sort of a buffet of comedy.

"The great thing is, if you put on a great show in Vegas you get rewarded," he said. "My goal is to put on the best possible show that I can every night - to give people what I think they deserve.

"You have to provide a really solid show in Vegas. That's what people want to see. They want to be entertained, and that's my goal."

Eventually, Anderson said, he will buy a home in Las Vegas.

"I think the show is going to be successful," he said. "I think people are going to enjoy it."

Anderson noted that it may take some time to build a following, but he already has one built in - not only those who have been fans since he launched his career, but those who discovered him when he hosted the syndicated TV show "Family Feud" (1998-2002) and those who grew up watching his cartoon series "Life with Louie" (1995-98).

He says fans will be treated to a lot of new material, in addition to some of his classic material.

"I have added a lot," Anderson said. "There's some Vegas stuff and hotel stuff and a whole chunk on health."

The health material stems from a heart condition.

In 2003 Anderson had double bypass surgery.

"The heart problems came up suddenly, but then I come from a family with heart disease," he said.

Staying in one place to perform should help him to lead a healthier life.

"It will give me a chance to have a regular diet and exercise," he said. "I will get to play some golf."

Anderson says he quit smoking and started eating healthier.

"My blood pressure is normal, my cholesterol is normal," he said. "I'm in amazingly good health."

But he will never be mistaken for a dancer in "Thunder From Down Under."