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BASKETS CASE: The Dark Side Of Louie Anderson

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FRESH AIR Comic Louie Anderson has had a hugely successful stand-up career for the past 30 years, but he admits he wasn’t a very good actor early on. “I didn’t know who I was or how to do it,” he tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross. Now, at 62, Anderson is delivering a standout performance on the FX comedy series Baskets. In it, he plays Christine Baskets, the mother of an embittered rodeo clown (played by Zach Galifianakis). Christine is both exasperated by her son and deeply supportive of him. “I feel like this part gave me an opportunity to play the most real person — a really real person,” he says. The comic drew from his memories of his late mother for the role of Christine. “I really loved playing this part for a big reason that my mom gets to come to life,” he says. Anderson grew up with 10 siblings in a housing project in St. Paul, Minn., and for years family has been a big part of his act. He says that imagining his mother and family as his audience helped shape his family-friendly humor. “I’ve always been trying to heal families,” he explains. But as Anderson grows older, he has reconsidered adding darker material to his set. “I’m at this precipice right now that I feel like I’ll be changing myself onstage,” he says. “I think I could go to another level, but am I going to betray my audience? Is that a betrayal?” MORE

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