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By Suzanne

Louie Anderson 

Interview with Louie Anderson of "Baskets" on FX 2/9/16

Louie is a great comedian and has been famous to TV audiences for a long time. He really shows his acting chops in this new series, where he plays a woman (mother of Zach Galifianakis' main character, Chip).  He was very kind and jovial on the call -- eager to please and to answer our questions.  You can tell he's been doing this for a long time because he goes out of his way to make sure he knows each person's name, and also he makes sure to make a good joke so that each of us have a good laugh with him. Now that's a pro!

Susan: Hello, and welcome to the "Baskets" conference call with series star Louie Anderson, who plays the one-and-only Christine Baskets. Louie, we greatly appreciate your time. I'd also like to thank everyone for joining us. As a reminder, the next original episode of "Baskets" will air on Thursday, February 11, 7pm, only on FX. So, with that said, let's go ahead and take your first question.

Operator: Our first question comes from the line of Suzanne Lanoue of The TV MegaSite. Please go ahead, your line is open.

Suzanne: Hi, Louie. Good morning!

Louie: Hi.

Suzanne: It's nice to speak with you.

Louie: How are you?

Suzanne: Good. Thanks! Now, have you ever played a character before where you had to dress like a woman? I know you voiced a woman before...

Louie: Yeah, I do a tiny little piece in Dom Irerra's comedy special where I was the maid. I came in and did almost like a walk-through as a maid. That's the only time. Before that, no...nothing that I'm aware of.

[Both laugh]

Suzanne: And has acting and dressing like a woman helped you to understand women, or what it's like to be one?

Louie: Well, I had a mom who was really representative of strong women, and she was in a difficult situation with an alcoholic husband, and she had eleven children. She held down the fort and provided a loving atmosphere in a toxic world that we grew up in, so I had a great role model there, and I had 5 sisters. I got to see the good and bad things about growing up a woman and how they were treated. I think, just by osmosis, I really got a lot out of that. My mom was also a very funny person, so I started imitating her in my act in the '80's quite heavily. It's the way that the cartoon was created. I did me as a little kid, and my mom, and my dad's voice, and that's what brought "Life with Louie" (the cartoon) together. I've always done it, but this is a different character, so I would "yes." You know, where I got my training, and then after becoming Christine each time, on the set...you know, I stayed in character. I wasn't Louie Anderson. I didn't let people call me "Louie." On the trailer, it was written "Christine." Zach or I were the first people in makeup, so...people never saw me otherwise. I left right afterwards. I tried to stay in character. People treat you differently. They treated me, oftentimes, as a mom, when they would ask me questions. Many of them called me "Christine." It was really a good experience. So to answer your question more directly, I'm playing a very strong character, with a lot of frailties underneath it all. She's trying to keep up a good appearance for the people around her, and for her family. She's a pretty complicated character, but I just tried to play her as a really real person. That's what I was going for during the whole experience.

Suzanne: All right. Well, thanks a lot!

Louie: Thank you very much.

Operator: Next question comes from Preston Barta with FreshFiction. Please go ahead.

Preston: Hi, Louie. How are ya?

Louie: I'm good. How are you, Preston?

Preston: I'm well, thank you.

Louie: Good.

Preston: I've said this before about other FX shows, but I feel like the type of comedy that this network is producing has a very timeless quality to its comedy. I think you can watch the first season of "It's Always Sunny" and it's still funny and relevant. I think your show will be in the same boat. What do you think is the difference between the kind of comedy that keeps you laughin' and you can do it through time, as opposed to the kind of comedy that comes and goes, and doesn't age very well?

Louie: I think the kind of thing, Preston, that keeps comedy timeless is to not fix it on any particular thing that's going on. Like if you mention a current event. If you use topical things in a comedy or in a show, then that'll date it immediately within a week.

Preston: Right.

Louie: I think what keeps comedy really fresh and forever - You could go back to ["I Love Lucy"] - it's relationships. The black-and-white turned to color on TV, but the relationships don't change at all. You have Lucy and Ricky, you have "Father Knows Best," You have "Leave It to Beaver," you have "All in the Family".... The shows that hold up the best are dealing with issues like, "I don't wanna go to school," "I don't wanna go to work," or "I don't wanna go on anymore." [Chuckles] Y'know? So I think what keeps comedy like that is to not put it in a time warp. Not to put it in the '70's or the 70's... you're right. I think "Baskets" would be timeless, and do think that FX does a great job about that. I think what they look for are people who are trying to create something that is timeless, but also so original.

Preston: Yeah. Yeah, I remember watching one of the "Making of" featurettes, and one of the guys who's on the show, said something about, "This is not a slapstick comedy. It's like slapstick drama, where you care about the characters - it doesn't matter how ridiculous the comedy gets." Do you favor a particular subgenre of comedy, or does it really matter to you?

Louie: Well, I like the subtle stuff that is wrapped in a thousand innuendoes, and a thousand nuances, where you just go.... Sometimes I watch the episodes of "Baskets," I would notice something later that Jonathan Krisel did. I would go, "Oh, my God, I never even saw that in the first time I watched it!" So...I think layers is how you make that stuff. I find myself stopping on silly TV comedies all the time because...I don't know. I still think Gilligan could get off the island.

[Both laugh]

Louie: You know what I mean? I think they play on the fact that we're all trapped on an island somewhere. I think "Baskets" could be remembered as one of the great family comedies, even though it might be the weirdest family. This show is all about families.

Preston: Yeah. Absolutely. Thanks for your time, sir. I appreciate it.

Louie: Thank you. Thank you.

Operator: Next question comes from Jamie Steinberg from "Starry Constellation Magazine." Please go ahead, your line is open.

Jamie: It's an honor to speak with you. Thank you so much for your time.

Louie: Thank you for wanting to talk to me.

Jamie: What kind of fan reaction have you been getting through this character? It's been quite a success based on the media reports. What kind of reaction have you been receiving?

Louie: Well, you know, I quit reading all the reviews. People keep sending them to me. Don't kid yourself, I've read a lot of them. I gotta be careful. You know, my head's already so giant that I don't want it to get any bigger.

[Both laugh]

Louie: Some of my favorite things that fans have said, are like, "Louie Anderson is the funniest woman on TV." Another one is, "Would you be my mom?" That really made me laugh. It's been really good. I've had just an overwhelming fun time with funny stuff like that 'cause I think people are liking Christine. They're liking good things about her, and they're kinda liking the bad things about Christine. The other day I was at breakfast. I was leaving, and a young woman goes, "Oh! You're what's-her-name!" and I go, "What?" "Christine! Oh, my boyfriend's gonna be so jealous that I met Christine." I guess they found it to be so sweet, and charming, you know? I was at a Superbowl party, and people were asking the people sitting next to me, "Is that that woman? That guy-woman comic?" "Guy-woman comic" really made me laugh. You know, it's funny. I had such a positive response, and I just block anyone who says anything mean. [Laughs heartily]

Jamie: Thank you so much for your time. It's great to see you back on television.

Louie: Thank you so, so much. I appreciate it, Jamie.

Operator: We have a question from Tori Walsh from FXM.

Tori: Hi, Louie. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us this afternoon.

Louie: Thank you, Tori.

Tori: I'm just wondering if the show is mostly scripted, or you have the opportunity to improvise?

Louie: Well, there were scripts for everything, so that was our guide. Then Jonathan allowed us to [improvise]. I would say to him, "Jonathan, can I read this like my mom would say it?" or "Can I read this like my sister, when she's mad at me, would say it?" And he goes, "Yeah, you can do anything." So we had that kind of freedom. Zach is so great, also. He likes to try a million things. I say this, not in a complaining way - we did a thousand takes for each thing.

[Both laugh]

Louie: No, we did a lot of takes. Jonathan would laugh if he knew I said a thousand....but we did a lot of takes until he really felt like he had it. He's a fantastic director to work with.

Tori: Great. Thank you so much.

Louie: Thank you.

Operator: Next question comes from Sean McAloon of Pop Culture Magazine.

Sean: Hi, Louie. Thanks for taking the time to speak with us today.

Louie: Oh, my pleasure, Sean.

Sean: What do you think it is about "Baskets" that resonates with its viewers?

Louie: I think everybody wants to do their thing, like the character Chip does. He wanted to be something. He had this idea of what he wanted to be...he wanted to at least try it or figured he could be something good at it. I think comedians, in general, want to make people laugh, to make people feel better. Then, I think everyone has or knows a person like Christine in the family. I think they know that Christine is trying to hold her somewhat-crumbling family together. Trying to do the best she can. I think Christine is also trying to put on the best face. She hasn't had an easy life, as you'll find out throughout the episodes. I think she's just trying to hold her family together, and I think what people really love about "Baskets" is the family element. I don't know if I answered your question or not...

Sean: Oh, absolutely. Thanks again. Thank you for your time.

Louie: Thank you.

Operator: Our next question comes from Bruce Phelps of Closer Weekly.

Bruce: Hi, Louie. How ya doing?

Louie: Good, how are you, Bruce?

Bruce: I'm well, thanks! I was wondering what your creative interaction was like with Louis CK, if you knew him previously from the stand-up circuit, and also, if you think this could launch a new career for you as a character actor (or actress, as the case may be).

Louie: [Chuckles] Louie and I have met each other here and there, but we have had very little interaction, creativity-wise. He knows me as the best comic he's ever seen...

[Both laugh]

Bruce: Naturally.

Louie: And I know him as, supposedly the best comic working today.

[Both laugh]

Louie: No, uh, you know, I met Louie in Montreal at the comedy festival, and he was on before I was going up. I really enjoyed it, and we exchanged pleasantries...then he called me one day, out of the blue, and said, "Hey, Zach and I are doing this show, and we want you to play a part." I go, "Yeah!" He goes, "We want you to play Zach's mom," and I go, "Yeah! I'll do it!" So we talked a little bit about the character and had that early interaction. Mostly that's the interaction I had with Louis. I saw him recently at the Comedy Store where he did a surprise appearance and saw his new stuff he was working on. I went, "Geez, I gotta work harder." Because he was so terrific. I went back and said, hello, but..yeah, it's been limited but always very pleasant.

Bruce: So do you think this could be your "Pulp Fiction?"

Louie: You know what I think? I don't think people had any idea I could do anything other than the standup they saw me do. I don't think they saw me as any kind of actor. Granted, early in my parts, I was a terrible actor. I didn't know what I was doing, but as I got older, I just went, "I know how to do this." I think fear [kept me from succeeding before] When you're a standup, you really want to do your words. You really want to do your stuff. As I got older... one of the things I pride myself on is...when I went in there, I'm not gonna complain about anything, and I'm never gonna say no to anything they ask me to do. I think people will think of putting me in something, maybe, or using me. Maybe someday I'll be able to play a man again.

[Both laugh]

Bruce: I hope you win Best Support Actor or Actress at the Emmys for this.

Louie: Thank you very much. I should be in both categories.

Bruce: You should be.

Operator: The next question comes from the line of Rebecca Murray from Showbiz Junkies.

Rebecca: Good afternoon. Thanks again for doing the call.

Louie: My pleasure, Rebecca.

Rebecca: You touched on it very briefly, but do we get to learn a lot about her backstory, and maybe about the romantic relationships she's had?

Louie: I don't like to give anything away, but I will tell you that you learn about her heartache, and you learn about some of those things that are desires, and that she'd like to do...I'll just stop there, but you do get to learn a lot about who she is and what she's made of. And especially, this episode, you get to meet her mother, which is an amazing thing. So you get to see where exactly Christine, and who exactly Christine is created from.

Rebecca: Ooh, interesting.

Louie: Yeah.

Rebecca: Thank you.

Operator: And that was our last question.

Louie: Okay, great. That was fun.

Susan: Well, thank you everyone, for joining us today, and especially Louie. We so super appreciate your time.

Louie: Thanks for having me.

Susan: Yeah, it was so much fun! As a reminder, everyone, "Baskets" airs Thursdays at 10pm, only on FX.

Louie: I just want to tell everyone that Thursday's episode is the episode where, in my opinion, it brings the whole series together. It really does. It really sets up for the episodes and for the future of "Baskets," in my opion.

Susan: I couldn't agree more.

Read My Review of "Baskets"

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