Louie Anderson: Making a splash

Louie Anderson’s tenure as a hard-working standup has made him realize he only wants to help people.

Anderson equates coming home to Minnesota as similar to going back to the place where you hit your first home run.

Image by Louie Anderson

Anderson equates coming home to Minnesota as similar to going back to the place where you hit your first home run.

by Spencer Doar

What: Louie Anderson

When: 6:30 and 9 p.m., Saturday

Where: Maple Tavern, 9375 N. Deerwood Lane, Maple Grove, Minn.

Cost: $35

Ages: 16+


With his gap teeth, ponderous appearance and nasally whine, comedian Louie Anderson seems like the butt of a joke.

The native Minnesotan is well aware of this. From his first appearance on “The Tonight Show” nearly three decades ago to headlining in Las Vegas, Anderson knows to address the elephant in the room: his weight.

“When you are big, you almost have to get it out of the way, otherwise [the audience] wonders if you know you’re that big,” Anderson said. “It’s kind of like when an ethnic comedian will bring up their ethnicity or draw attention to it. Any distinguishing characteristic, comedy amplifies it.”

The recent participant in ABC’s “Splash,” a reality show where celebrities learn to do difficult dives, was big since childhood.

Early on, Anderson realized his point of view was going to come from his weight and his family, though finding the ways to deal with those subjects was initially difficult.

Childhood was a traumatic time spent in the company of 10 brothers and sisters and an alcoholic father. He tries to get up to Minnesota 10 times a year to visit.

“You have to find a way to tell something when the situation is sad,” Anderson said. “I used to try to figure out how to do material on my dad.”

It may be cliché, but like hundreds of comics before him, he needed to find the comedy in the tragedy.

The result is one of many in Anderson’s canon of one-liners: “My dad never hit us when I was a kid. He carried a gun.”

As for his weight, one of the first jokes he ever wrote was, “I can’t stay long — I’m in-between meals.”

When Anderson says he works on material, he really does work. He still mentors a few comedians, though he stopped doing his comedy workshop when he realized the laziness of some comedians.

“I like working; I’m a Midwesterner,” Anderson said. “When we feel like we’re just sitting around, it’s not good for us.”

It was that sentiment that prompted Anderson to join the cast of “Splash.”

“People who are big; I want to tell them it’s OK, that they don’t need to go to the gym and kill themselves but just get up and move around,” Anderson said.

T-shirts on his website rep the new message from Anderson, simply saying “Get Off The Couch.”

While Anderson has always had that urge to make people feel better, the “Splash” appearance was the last in a series of epiphanies.

“I hope to make a transition to keynote speaking,” Anderson said. “[I want] to inspire people and work with them more directly.”