Comedy Central ranked him one of the 100 Greatest Stand-Up Comedians of All Time.
This Saturday, Louie Anderson hosts a virtual comedy special from his home in Las Vegas.
“I’ve been working on this material from being cooped up a whole year,” Anderson told WTOP. “You realize a lot of things, how we’ve lived the last year with Uber Eats and Door Dash. Do I buy Bitcoin or Dogecoin? What do I do with my life now? Who are my friends?”
Indeed, there’s nothing like a pandemic to show who your real friends are.
“Who called you?” Anderson said. “Who checked on you? When you called them, who was trying to do something good with their life? Who were the people who didn’t call you at all and you’re like, ‘I thought we were friends?’ … I got a lot of funny stuff the first time I went out after the pandemic.”
He was even able to reflect on his mother, who survived the Spanish Flu a century ago.
“My mom was born during the last pandemic,” Anderson said. “She was like 7 or 8 during the Spanish Flu. … She didn’t go into details, just that, ‘We all had to stay home. We all had to be careful.’ They ran gas stations in South Dakota, so they had to be careful and let people pump their own gas, not have interactions with people, wear masks, the whole thing.”
He just wrote the book “Hey Mom: Stories I Told My Mom and You Can Hear Them Too.”
“It was a really good book for me,” Anderson said. “It really made me realize how much I miss my mom and how many questions I have. I always tell people, ‘Hey, talk to your mom. Ask her questions you’re never going to be able to ask when she’s around. Find out why she married dad, what was the big attraction, what did she give up in her life to raise all of us?'”
Anderson’s mother had her work cut out for her with a total of 11 children.
“She was a very empathetic person,” Anderson said. “She really cared about people. If a kid in the neighborhood looked hungry, she’d have him stay for dinner. … She always said, ‘Be nice to people. You never know what kind of day they had, Louie.’ … My Dad was a grump. … He was a war veteran and he’d been through a lot, so I had an interesting family all the way around.”
Which comedians did he enjoy growing up in St. Paul, Minnesota?
“I had Richard Pryor, George Carlin. I also had Jack Benny, Bob Hope, Johnny Carson, Jonathan Winters, those were all big influences to me,” Anderson said.
Anderson made his network TV debut on “The Tonight Show” in 1984.
“I did it on a dare, first of all,” Anderson said. “I never was going to be a standup. I just tried it, and here I am all these years later. … I think every comic has their own point of view.”
His life story became the animated TV series “Life with Louie” (1994-1998).
“I loved ‘Life of Louie,’ it was a lot of fun,” Anderson said. “I played all of the characters. I played my dad, me and the narration. It was really a lot of fun. … We’re thinking about bringing it back. We think it would still be a good show and people would enjoy it.”
He also became a household name hosting “Family Feud” (1999-2002).
“That was the best thing,” Anderson said. “I used to watch ‘Family Feud’ with my family, and here I am hosting it. It was a dream come true.”
Lately, he won an Emmy playing Zac Galifianakis’ mom Christine in FX’s “Baskets” (2016).
“Zac was so much fun to work with,” Anderson said. “He’s such a nice guy, and to play his mom was such a treat. To play that character, people seemed to really like it. I still get people asking me if Christine Baskets will be their mother. It’s all fun stuff. I just love it.”
What’s next for Louie? He’s trying not to look too far ahead.
“I’m just looking forward to this special Saturday,” Anderson said. “I hope people will tune in. … People who are familiar with my comedy know that I do good specials and I hope this will be one of my best specials. … I’m really excited about doing a virtual comedy show for the first time.”