Moonlights in A.C. The comic takes a break from a steady Vegas gig to show Atlantic City some love
Louie Anderson has settled down — sort of.
The veteran comic, who has experienced success on TV with shows such as the animated Life with Louie, penned three bestsellers on dealing with his dysfunctional family and appeared in numerous films, has always been first and foremost a stand-up comedian.
And now it’s his day job. Well, actually it’s his 7pm job, five days a week at the Excalibur Hotel in Las Vegas. For the last four years he’s been on stage night after night. But Saturday, Jan. 16, Anderson takes a break from Vegas with an appearance at Trump Plaza’s Theater. Needless to say, Anderson will be bringing very current material with him.
“The last few months I’ve been doing stuff on Tiger Woods and the whole health-care situation and touching on a lot of current events,” Anderson tells Atlantic City Weekly. “But I’m always working on new stuff. What happens when you work five days a week; it opens yourself up to be able to create more. It just becomes an automatic. I’ve always been a guy who will take a subject and bring it up on stage with him and see how it goes. I’m not afraid to just try things.”
Throughout Anderson’s career, he’s always presented a laid back, homey feel on stage, drawing heavily on his family life. But he credits his regular gig as allowing him to finally hone his act to just what he wants it to be.
“I remember when I first started, it was like I’d go on stage and I’d already be halfway through my act,” he says. “I really wanted to make people laugh and I felt I rushed things too much and my timing was a little off … But I’ll tell you, nothing has made me a stronger performer like performing five nights a week.”
When Anderson took on the regular appearances, he purposely set his starting time at 7pm, joking that his audience doesn’t like to stay up late.
“It’s the kind of show I can do in my slippers,” he says. “But it’s true though: My audience likes to be home so they can watch the news afterwards.”
It’s been about two years since Anderson appeared in Atlantic City (“I’ve been boycotting,” he laughs), but even with his Vegas show, he still manages to take his act on the road.
“I still do some traveling,” he says. “I went to Minneapolis last week and I recently did a show in Indiana. Even though I’m doing shows five nights a week I still try to get out on the road once or twice a month.”
So when the call came to do an Atlantic City appearance, he jumped at it.
“Atlantic City is one of those special places; Vegas and Atlantic City,” he says. “They may have casinos all over the country now, but Atlantic City is a part of comedy legend. I mean Rodney [Dangerfield] played there and Shecky [Greene]; you know all those great comedians. Buddy Hackett and Henny Youngman, my friend, and Rodney, my friend and Joan Rivers, my friend. You know so all these people have been on those stages. So they’re pretty special. The same is true in Vegas. You know when I played the Sands in Vegas I would stand there and say, ‘Wow, this is the stage where Joey Bishop also bombed.’”
Of course, many of those comics may not have picked a frigid January date for an Atlantic City appearance.
“I guess when the Atlantic City offer came up, the feeling was that my fans would have enough insulation,” he laughs. “Or I do. Or both.”
Anderson has also found the time to make a commitment to young, up-and-coming comics. Anderson participates in Stand-Up Boot Camp, created by comedian Kyle Cease. The program features comics like Anderson and John Lovitz among others, who work with new comics.
“The idea is to work with young comics and help them,” he says. “You know, try to show them what works and why other things aren’t working for them. It’s about mentoring them, which is something I’ve always tried to do.”
In fact, Anderson is very protective of young comics, especially as they struggle to find their voice.
“I am protective of them because I’ve been there,” he says. “I think it’s the Mom in me. But I remember very early in my career I opened, in Atlantic City, for Dolly Parton. And I really thought that I had bombed. But she came up to me and said, ‘Don’t worry about it. This is a different type of audience. If they don’t know you, you really have to work to prove yourself to them.’
“And then I watched her go out, and at least that night she was met with a kind of lukewarm response,” he says. “So I guess everybody had just lost so much money that they didn’t care who was up there.”
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