Review: Louie Anderson, comedian

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.

Feature: Marc Price, comedian

By Christa Lawler
Duluth News Tribune

Marc Price was trying to get a three-way phone call through to Julie McCullough, his partner in comedy for “The Beauty and the Dweeb” tour.

It rang a couple of times and then went to voicemail.

“Normally she takes my calls,” claimed the actor who played Skippy Handleman on the 1980s sitcom “Family Ties.”

On that show, starring Michael J. Fox, Skippy was gaga for the totally-out-of-his-league Mallory Keaton, played by Justine Bateman. Twenty years later, Price still has the tongue-lolling sound of a man who will forever be smitten with pretty ladies who have buff boyfriends. That is the theme of this tour with McCullough, a Playboy playmate who briefly played Julie on “Growing Pains.”

“It’s one of my greatest ideas ever,” Price said in a phone

interview. “Going on the road with Julie McCullough is something people are going to talk about. She looks at me more like a friend who wants to (insert graphic image involving bull moose here).”

The duo will perform a free show at 8 p.m. Wednesday at Black Bear Casino in Carlton.

Price said he and McCullough work for producer/actor Budd Friedman and were landing similar gigs when they decided to join forces.

McCullough, with her southern drawl, pulls fodder from her Playmate past; Price plays up his inner and outer nerdy next-door neighbor. He doesn’t miss an opportunity to flirt up McCullough — even when she isn’t around to roll her eyes at his antics.

They made out once, Price insisted, during tryouts for “Killer Tomatoes from France,” a sci-fi comedy horror from the early 1990s. McCullough doesn’t remember this, he admitted. And maybe the rollicking romance he has planned for them during the tour isn’t going to happen after all.

“I’m starting to give up on it,” Price said. “The whole plan was she would fall in love with me. It eased into the friend zone. It’s not for lack of trying. I don’t understand what the problem is.”

Price is most famous for his role on “Family Ties.” He played the bespectacled best friend of Alex P. Keaton (Fox). He did end up playing Mikey in “Killer Tomatoes eat France” and also had a gig as the host of “Teen Win, Lose or Draw” on the Disney Channel during this same time period.

McCullough had a strong Playboy presence in the late 1980s: as one of the “Girls of Texas” (1985), Playmate of the Month (February 1986), one of the “Farmer’s Daughters” (September 1986), and a post-“Growing Pains” compilation in 1989. Recently, she has been on the E! reality show “The Girls Next Door” and on an episode of “Scott Baio is 45 … and Single.”

Comedy always has been Price’s thing, and he has opened for Jay Leno and Jerry Seinfeld. His late father is Al Bernie, a stand-up comedian who introduced Price to the New York City comedy scene in the 1970s. He names his father’s friends and his father’s favorite comics as influences in his own comedy career: Milton Berle, Don Rickles, George Burns, George Carlin and David Brenner.

This is why Price favored the character of Skippy — his family still calls him that, by the way — to something like the heartthrob on “Charles in Charge” played by Baio, whom McCullough actually did date.

“Getting laughs was always a score for me,” Price said. “I’d rather that than play the stud guy. That’s what I loved. Whenever they wrote something, the weirder, more demeaning and awkward, the better.”

This story appeared in the Duluth (Minn.) News Tribune on October 23, 2010.