Louie Anderson forgets that he has a distinct voice.

It's hard to mistake it for anyone else's, even over the phone.

Anderson called from Las Vegas on Nov. 9, a few hours after Eddie Murphy stepped down as this year's Oscar host.

"That's a bummer," Anderson said. He waited a beat before adding, "I'm available. I was in that movie, too."

The film he referred to, of course, was the 1988 comedy "Coming to America."

Before Billy Crystal landed the hosting gig, Anderson joked about his own chances. He said that he couldn't even get to the Oscars as a seat filler - a model or attractive young person hired to sit in a seat while an actor or actress is in the bathroom. That way, when the camera pans over the room, it always looks full.

Anderson said he's been to the Emmys, but never the biggest award show in Hollywood.

"It's part of our lives," he said of the Academy Awards. "Movies are such a big part of the American experience."

The Three Stooges and Laurel and Hardy inspired a young Anderson, as did variety shows with Jack Benny, Johnny Carson and Carol Burnett.

He used to sit on the edge of his family's couch and watch "Family Feud" with his mom, dad and some configuration of his 10 siblings. At the time, Richard Dawson was the host.

Anderson went on to host the show almost three decades later.

"I think it was a no-brainer," Anderson said. He often told stories about this family in his stand-up routines, books and cartoons.

They became his first fans.

"I think I was funny because I was a little bit sarcastic and (a) smart aleck," he said. "My dad said, 'you're the laziest person I've ever met.' I said, 'thank you,' He said, 'it's not a compliment.' "

People would laugh when Anderson made an observation. When he told them he was serious, they would often laugh harder.

"At some point I think I maybe used it to my advantage," he said.

He first tried comedy as a dare. One night after work, he met his friends at a nightclub. He said the act on stage wasn't funny. A friend told him to give it a try, so Anderson signed up for the next week and invited his family and friends to attend.

Thirty-three years later, he's still on stage.

Dec. 3, he will perform two shows - 7 and 10 p.m. - in York's Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center.

The shows will be taped for a one-hour TV special. While scouting venues, Anderson wanted a place that would cater to his down-to-earth humor.

"It's a beautiful room," he said of the Strand, which was built in 1925. "(It) hosted many years of entertainment, and I think you get the drippings of all the sweat of all those entertainers and performers who have been there. I think that's in the air. I love theaters. They are the television sets of yesterday."

Social media, Anderson said, is the new radio.

"(It's) a way to get a following, earned or not," he said.

Anderson likes to tweet or post a photo if he arrives at a venue. Coming from a large, social family has made him very open without feeling vulnerable.

"I'm not going to just tweet to tweet," Anderson said. "I'm not as savvy as I wish I was. I'm starting to get the hang of it."

Anderson's social media posts are usually frank and simple, he said, just like his stand-up.

On Dec. 3, he will focus on food, fat, family and being older than 50.

"I think it's some of the best material I've ever written," he said.

He said he grew up in a not-so-healthy Midwest household. His family served comfort food and had an emotional attachment to eating.

"The older you get, the harder it is to increase your activity," Anderson said.

But in between working on a new book and a reality show, Anderson is also working on his health.

After the interview, he said he was going to work with a swim coach. He wants to develop a water workout, since it's easier on his joints and is something he enjoys. He plans to update his progress on Facebook and Twitter.

"Maybe that could inspire other people," he said. "In turn, people can re-inspire you. People can say 'keep it going.' It's a two-way street."

- Erin McCracken, FlipSide staff

If you go

WHAT: Louie Anderson

WHEN: 7 and 10 p.m. Dec. 3

WHERE: Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center, 50 N. George St., York

COST: $13, $19, $21

DETAILS: The shows will be taped for an hour-long TV special. For details and tickets, call 846-1111 or visit

Louis Anderson online




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