In his 34 years as a stand-up comic, Louis Anderson has amassed quite a varied fan base.
There are the 20- and 30-year-olds that know Anderson from his autobiographical cartoon, “Life With Louie,” which aired for three seasons starting in 1995. Others know the St. Paul, Minn., native from his stint as host of “Family Feud” from 1999 to 2002. Still other fans come with their entire families, having grown up watching Anderson’s hourlong comedy specials.
“Sometimes people bring me a VHS of the first special to sign, which makes me laugh that these people are still using the VHS,” Anderson said recently from a tour stop in Clearwater, Fla. “How many people do you think still have a VHS machine?”
Focus on family
With such a wide demographic of fans, one might think it would be difficult to please them all. But according to Anderson, everything he’s ever done — from his five hourlong specials to the cartoon to his three books — has focused on family.
with Joe Bronzi
When: 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Where: The Comedy Works, 500 Northern Blvd., Albany
How Much: $59.95 (doors), $54.95 (advance) for dinner and show; $35 (doors), $30 (advance) show only
More Info: 275-6897, www.thecomedyworks.com
“I’ll tell you a story about a guy who interviewed me recently — he said, ‘You know, my mom didn’t like my dad, my dad didn’t like my brother and my brother didn’t like me,’ ” he said. “ ‘But we would drive in the car, and it was tense, but then all of a sudden my dad would turn his head around and go, “Shirley’s daughter lives there.” ’ That’s one of my routines — my mom would always point out stuff and she had no idea what she was talking about; she would go by and say, ‘Oh, Shirley’s daughter lives there.’ I thought it was ironic, though, that it was kind of a glue — ‘My dad would quote your routines, and that was the common bond we all had.’
“That’s the reason I wrote the books, that’s the reason I did the cartoons — so that people would watch it with their families, so that parents could watch it with their kids.”
Anderson’s fifth comedy special, “Big Baby Boomer,” released early this week on DVD, continues his wry observations on family life, while also tackling his thoughts on getting older (he is now 59). He’ll wrap his two-week tour with two nights at The Comedy Works’ new location at 500 Northern Blvd. in Albany, on Friday and Saturday.
“I’ve always liked Albany — Albany always reminds me of St. Paul, Minnesota, where I grew up,” Anderson said. “It’s a capital city, so is St. Paul, and it just looks similar, feels similar. It’s cold in the winter, muggy in the summer, and you have all those capital buildings.”
Two-week tours are the norm for Anderson, who spends the rest of his time working in Las Vegas — since 2010, he’s had a residency at the Palace Station’s comedy club, which was rechristened the Louie Anderson Theater.
“It’s nice to get a break from Vegas,” he said. “You’re there at the same place, same time, and then, only a very small percentage — like 18 percent of the country — ever go to Vegas. So I like to get out.”
The usual stuff
The show will focus on “Big Baby Boomer,” which originally aired on Country Music Television and was recorded live at the Palace Station. Fans can expect his usual self-deprecating jokes — according to the comedian, the show is “about food and being fat and getting healthy, being over 50 — all the ‘F’ words.”
“I guess it’s all those aches and pains — but I’m the same person,” he said. “Just, when you get older — people call me to go out, and I go, ‘It’s 9:30.’ They say, ‘Yeah, we’re going to the club around 10,’ and I’m like, ‘Is it a sleepover?’ That kind of stuff. The great thing is, it’s hit a chord because a lot of people who grew up watching me, they’re my age and are right in it with me.”
Inspiration for the show came from numerous places, including, perhaps surprisingly, the presidential election.
“When I was listening to all the rhetoric out there from all the people with the campaigns, and all the worry about the world, I noticed it was reminiscent of the late ’60s, early ’70s,” Anderson said. “You know, we were in a war we couldn’t win, we were — Russia and Iran were both causing us problems, and the economy wasn’t as good as it could have been, gas prices were at an all-time high, we had rationing back then. It was just the same things. . . . I thought that it was ironic.”
Anderson’s father has long been an inspiration for his comedy — past jokes have dealt with his father’s alcoholism, his life as a veteran and his abrasive nature. This time out, Anderson also drew inspiration from his father, but in a different way.
“I don’t care who you are, you turn into one of your parents,” he said. “So now I have scolding things, or my own variation of them — my dad wouldn’t say it directly, he’d say it all sideways, like, ‘There’s something more interesting to you, huh?’ That’s my dad, that’s how he’d say it.”
Along with touring and Vegas shows, Anderson is working on his fourth book, “The Diary of a Fat Man,” and is in talks with magician Criss Angel about producing a reality show (“kind of a nice ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm,’ if that makes sense,” he said).
After 34 years, he hasn’t grown tired of the stand-up life, nor of picking apart his family history to fuel the comedy. For him, it’s about connecting to his own family, as well as helping his fans do the same.
“If anything, growing up with the kind of family I grew up in, one thing I was trying to do was recapture — or repair, whatever you want to call it — the part about my family that I couldn’t connect with,” he said. “I wanted to try to get other people to realize that they could connect.”