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Interview with Louie Anderson of "Baskets" on
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.
Hi, Louie. Good morning!
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.
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
Suzanne: All right. Well, thanks a lot!
Louie: Thank you very much.
question comes from Preston Barta with
Preston: Hi, Louie. How are ya?
Louie: I'm good. How are you, Preston?
well, thank you.
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.
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.
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
Louie: Thank you. Thank you.
Operator: Next question comes from Jamie Steinberg from
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.
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.
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
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?
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.
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.
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...
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 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...
Louie: And I know him as,
supposedly the best comic working today.
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
Bruce: So do you think this could be your
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.
Bruce: I hope you win Best Support
Actor or Actress at the Emmys for this.
you very much. I should be in both categories.
You should be.
Operator: The next question comes from
the line of Rebecca Murray from
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
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.
Rebecca: Thank you.
Operator: And that was our last
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
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