March 20, 2011 Leave a comment
By Christa Lawler
Duluth News Tribune
Louie Anderson’s mom was a hoarder. He tried to throw away a paper bag once and she said “What’re we, the Rockefellers?” Then once he was digging in that magic space between the cupboard and refrigerator, the universal spot for housing old brown paper sacks, and he pulled out a bag from Red Owl.
That grocery store had been closed for a decade.
Here Anderson stopped to bust out an impersonation of the infamous owl logo. His elbows jutted up around his ears, a sort of pinched, evil, scrunched face and toothy rodent look. He posed like this for at least 10 fantastic seconds while the 500 plus in the audience at Mitchell Auditorium at the College of St. Scholastica roared.
“I’ve never even seen what that looks like,” Anderson chuckled after he dismounted from the impersonation. It’s a doozy alright, and part of Anderson’s amazing arsenal of looks.
The blond-haired, round-bodied Minnesota native might not be an athlete, but in more than 20 years of contorting his face into slack-jawed wonder and wide-eyed confusion, Anderson remains one of the best at the art of physical comedy. On Friday night he morphed into an antagonistic feline, dissing its owner with a tail and misanthropic eye rolls, and mimed a traveler shuffling through the security maze at the airport in Minneapolis.
Anderson performed an 80-minute show for a crowd comprised mostly of people who understood what it is like to try to read small print and mistake digits in a phone number.
“Is that a W?” he asked. Then: “I can’t read anything smaller than that ‘Egypt’ sign over there,” he said, gesturing in the direction of a neon Exit sign over the door.
Anderson’s show was the clean personal narrative that has earned him comparisons to Bill Cosby — or maybe the favorite uncle you call dibs to sit next to at Thanksgiving dinner. Stories about his mother’s love for butter and the time his father used a charcoal grill to heat up the car so he could start it in the winter. The time young Louie broke the driver’s side door off the family car trying to parallel park — a blunder that his dad fixed by snaking rope between the steering wheel console and the door.
“My mom ate every piece of butter in the Midwest,” and lived
into her 70s. “My dad smoked, he drank, we finally had to kill him when he was 79,” Anderson said.
There was a bit of audience interaction, where he riffed on the feedback. He tossed out questions to Jay, a 50-something in the front row, and expressed amazement at Eric, a 34-year-old also in the front row.
“When I was 34 I could pee from my bed all the way to the toilet,” he said. “The arc on it …”
He got big love from the audience — a standing ovation — passed out a free DVD to an audience member and headed to the lobby for a meet-’n’-greet, touching shoulders and greeting raving fans who had gathered to get pictures with him.
Minneapolis comedian Jason Schommer opened the show with a 15-minute rapid-fire set that he kicked off with a story about how he met Cher in Las Vegas. Embarrassing, he said. She mistook this short-haired curvy dude for her daughter Chastity. He set just the right tone for Anderson’s set with a similar style of humor.
This review was in the March 19 edition of the Duluth (Minn.) News Tribune.