Last Friday iconic comedian Louie Anderson sat down with Ron Bennington to record an episode of Unmasked. Anderson is a legend in the stand up universe, plus he’s written several bestselling books, starred in and produced television, and hosted Family Feud. And now he’s tackling a very different kind of project, playing Christine Baskets, on Louis C.K. and Zach Galifianakis’ FX series, Baskets. And he’s killing it in a big big way. (Read our article, Louie Anderson is the Best Thing on TV Right Now.)
In the one hour episode, Louie talked candidly about growing up with an alcoholic father and the influence his mother had on him and his personality. He explained how he found his comedy voice, told the amazing story of his first Tonight Show appearance, and shared his secret to really nailing the part of Christine. He told the audience how Louis C.K. changed the business for all comedians, and how important Rodney Dangerfield was. Much like his role on Baskets, throughout the interview Louie alternated between being flat-out hysterical, showing vulnerability, and sharing real wisdom, and even sharing glimpses of pain and sadness. There were so many great moments you’ll really want to listen to the whole hour, but one of the most compelling threads to the interview was inclusion.
Inclusion came up through out the interview. Anderson talked about growing up poor, but helping out neighbors who were worse off by bringing them a bag of groceries. He said his mother always made sure the children in the neighborhood were eating enough. He talked about being the first comic to go on Joan River’s talk show, David Brenner’s and Arsenio’s show as well risking the anger of The Tonight Show in some cases, and going to the club across the street even if that upset the first club. He always making room for one more on the elevator. And he talked about the terrorist attacks in Paris this past year. He left the audience with a powerful lesson about inclusion and art that left the room pin silent, and some audience members teary eyed.
“You know, we’re in a ‘me too’ time don’t you think,” he said. “I was talking about inclusion. My mom always included people in the neighborhood who were not doing well. If we are in a time where I see so much exclusion– in the debates and all that crap that’s on. And I go, we should just be focusing on inclusion. And we should be focusing on art. And I’m going to tell you something that’s a little serious. There’s an episode coming up on Baskets where they were shooting in France in Paris. And while they’re shooting this, a mile away or a few blocks away, people are planing on killing a bunch of people at that exact time that they were shooting this episode of Baskets. And I just find that profound.” He continued. “That one group of people are making something to relieve people. And one group of people are doing something to destroy people. And I just think that inclusion– I just really gave this a lot of thought. Are the people who are lashing out– they keep seeming to be people who have been excluded. So I just find that profound.”
“And the day they left, the next day, those attacks took place. And I’m so thankful none of them….” He paused for a moment before saying, “but isn’t that an amazing thing? Isn’t that an amazing thing when you find out in history, what had happened. Baskets is profound in so many ways and I just think oh my God we are not being inclusive enough. I always say at the elevator, lets fit another person in. I go, come on in here. And I don’t mean that in any weird way. I don’t want to rub up against you but I don’t want you to feel excluded. But that’s kind of what I think my comedy– I think it comes from that place.”
You can hear an audio clip of Louie talking about “inclusion” below, and listen to the Unmasked in its entirety on SiriusXM on Demand.
The Unmasked series documents the careers of the very best comedy writers, directors, filmmakers, actors, screenwriters, satirists, political comedians, comedic musicians and of course, stand up comedians in the business. With over 125 episodes so far, Unmasked is a veritable archive of the greatest comedy of our time. Past Unmasked guests have included Joan Rivers, Bob Newhart, Amy Schumer, Dan Aykroyd, Simon Pegg, Tracy Morgan, Paul Feig, Jim Jefferies, Gilbert Gottfried, Bobcat Goldthwait, Louis C.K., David Brenner, Brian Regan, Patrice O’Neal and over 100 more comedy greats.
On the way out, some of the members of the Unmasked audience took a moment to take in what Louie told them.
— Larry in Yonkers (@LarryMCarlson) March 11, 2016