Comedian Louie Anderson tells us what it's been like starring in FX's Baskets as Christine, why he wants another Emmy, and what fans should expect from his upcoming stand-up comedy show at Red Rock Casino.
You won an Emmy last year for your role as Christine in Baskets. Did that change your approach entering into the second season of the show? LOUIE ANDERSON: No. You know what it made me do? It made me realize I was on the right track. But I wanted to make the second season even more connected. I don’t know. I hate to talk about the process because I really just—you know how Richard Pryor would perform? He would just kind of open himself up and he was just all hanging out there. He never held anything back. And so I just kind of did that with Christine. I just said, “Well, I’m a 400-pound woman who has had tremendous amounts of loss and is trying to desperately save her family and herself.”
What was the director, Jonathan Krisel, like as a collaborator? LA: He said hardly any words except all the ones I needed to hear.He didn’t direct me, he just guided me. He just laid a beautiful buffet out for me to indulge or not to indulge in. I think we’re on the same page for all of it.
And Zach Galifinakis? What's he like to work with? LA: Zach is an actor’s actor. He’s so much more prepared than all of us are. He’s so much more sure than all of us. And he’s so much more present than all of us are, in some ways. He doesn’t ask for anything that he isn’t willing to give himself and he doesn’t ever try to steal the spotlight. There’s a lot of respect among all the actors and the crew on this set because all of us have done a fair amount of work. You know, Martha’s been a standup for 20 years. And Zach’s a standup, and a movie star, and a television star, and a wonderful human being. And Jonathan was on Saturday Night Live for 10 years or so. And then Tim and Eric created Portlandia and Man Seeking Woman. And then I have 39 years of standup and miscellaneous, game show host/comedian/tenth of eleventh child, you know, that guy. So we all are getting a chance to do something that we can’t believe we’re getting a chance to do. I mean, if it wasn’t for FX and John Landgraf, I’m not sure Baskets would be on.
There's an amazing scene in Season 2, where Christine tells her brother that their mother left everything to her when she passes in the show. How did you prepare for that moment? LA: Oh, that was the episode I wanted to put up for the Emmy. I was channeling every moment everybody someone ever took advantage of me. And I got to find out that I was cherished, not by my father, but by my mother. Christine’s mother cherished her, but not her father. And, you know, I found it out after she died, unfortunately. And as she said in the character, and as I said, “I guess I’m an orphan now.”
"Denver," which was the episode that was actually chosen for Emmy submission, was also quite moving. LA: Yeah, but that was all about Christine’s journey. I think that’s why it was chosen. Jonathan has such great instincts, so I don’t fight those kind of things. I figure the universe will figure things out. I already got the Emmy, I just would like another one so I can finish the glass top table.
Well, we're at three now, no? LA: Yeah, but four would be better though, because, you know, sturdier table. [Laughs]
Before I let you go... You've played Vegas for years, and will be coming back to play the Red Rock Casino on September 15 and 16. What should people expect when they come to see you? LA: I’m working on a brand new special that I hope to do next year, so I’ve got some great material that I’ve been working really hard on for about six months. And so, you know, there’s nothing like Vegas. I’m going to do a bunch of Vegas material because it’s one of the things I’m proudest of. I've had a Vegas set since 1984. I love doing it because it really highlights Vegas. But I’m going to do all the f-words, you know? Family, food, fat, over fifty, family, father. I’m going to do that and I’m going to talk about Christine and how that happened and some tidbits, you know, some little tidbits that people wouldn’t know normally. And I had two great shows last time I was at Red Rock and that’s a great room. Then Sunday morning I fly into LA for the Emmys.