Las Vegas Sun

May 25, 2017

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Louie Anderson on his ‘Baskets’ resurgence, getting edgy and bringing comedy to the Space

Maybe Louie Anderson was longing for a little more time with his fellow comedians. After all, he’s been working so much — onstage doing standup and shooting the off-the-wall FX show Baskets, a role that won him the Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Emmy Award last fall — that he rarely gets to see anyone else perform.

“There’s always a bunch of comics in town every week and wouldn’t it be cool if there was a place on Saturday night, after all the shows, for them to come and hang out? And if they want to perform a little, great,” says the soon-to-be 64-year-old, Minnesota-born comedian. That was the idea he pitched to Mark Shunock, proprietor of the Space and producer of Mondays Dark, and Shunock loved it. “And when you bring something to Mark, you better be ready to act on it because he’s gonna put it together for you.”

Indeed he has. “Louie Anderson Presents: The After Show,” a new late-night, monthly comedy extravaganza, makes its debut at 10:30 p.m. March 18 at the Space, Shunock’s flexible theater space just west of the Strip. Only 150 seats are available so grab those tickets at thespacelv.com. The next After Shows are set for April 22, May 13, June 17 and July 15.

Click to enlarge photo

Louie Anderson performs during the second anniversary of “Mondays Dark” at the Joint on Monday, Dec. 14, 2015, in the Hard Rock Hotel.

Anderson says it will be casual and cool. “I’m excited about embracing the idea that the After Show exists for performers that didn’t get enough out in their show,” he says. Here’s some more from my chat with Louie:

On the crazy Vegas entertainment scene: “It’s a big circus, but I say whatever helps bring people to town, go for it. We’ve got Britney, Celine, Rod Stewart, everybody is here now. Is that Boyz II Men or Backstreet Boys now? We have both of ‘em. But it’s good because everybody can’t go to all those shows. Twenty-five percent of people that come to Vegas come five or six or 10 times a year, and each time they pick a show. That’s their ritual. I know these people. They have a list. When I had a show on the Strip I was one of those picks, and I heard it many times: ‘Hey Louie, we came to see you instead of Celine, and next time we’re coming for her.’ Vegas is bigger than a circus. It has a mystique of its own, and everybody wants to know what show is new or the most risqué or what restaurant can I go to and order something off the menu. There’s such a rich history. Who else has a mob museum?”

On his many years of playing Vegas: “My life intersected with Las Vegas in 1984 when I first played the Comedy Store at the Dunes hotel with Harry Basil, of all people, who’s now down the street at the Tropicana’s Laugh Factory. There are all these comics that were performing here then who are still alive and well. Vegas changed my whole life. Next it was opening for the Commodores at Bally’s, and then the Pointer Sisters at Caesars, and then Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton at the Golden Nugget, and then Natalie Cole and Smokey Robinson at Desert Inn. I played all those places and got to be an opening act because I had a great agent and my act was clean. Hollywood has been good to me, especially lately, but Las Vegas has been my main artery for a long time.”

On his recent resurgence co-starring in Baskets: “I suppose I have been through something like this before throughout [my career] but this is different because I’ve never had the acclaim like this from something that touched a lot of people in an acting way. Sometimes people say, ‘I never knew you had this in you,’ and it’s a really funny statement to me but it’s nice that people are embracing it so much. I just love getting all these new fans who are now embracing my stand-up. I’m working on a brand-new special now and I have an opportunity to make a transition into the next phase of my stand-up comedy, something I’ve been wanting to do for a while. It might take Louie Anderson the comic a little closer to the idea of the humor of Baskets, a little more edgy and real. I guess it’s just exploring new territory.”

On that new comedy direction: “I’m just trying to have some fun, that’s how I look at it. I want it to be great. I want to have the most fun in the world up there but I’m not worried about what I say or who I offend, although I’m not trying to offend anyone. But I think you have to go in a direction. I’m doing what I think is a very complicated character onscreen right now and I think I’m reflecting that in my stand-up, too. I want people to laugh and have a great time but I’ve always liked for people to think a little, too. I think every comic is like that. We all have this thing we want to bring up. You know that drawer you have at home with a thousand cords in there all tangled up? I want to bring those out and untangle them. Why are we keeping those cords? I tell comics all the time when they ask for advice, if you’re not doing something that matters, why are you doing it? If it doesn’t matter to you, why should it matter to the audience?”

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