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‘Got your good gloves?’: Louie Anderson loved performing in the Midwest, including Moorhead

Louie was a native of Minnesota, and he never forgot where he came from.

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Jim Shaw, right, interviews Louie Anderson on July 12, 2005, before performing at Courtney's Comedy Club in Moorhead.
Photo courtesy of KVRR-TV
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MOORHEAD — I am so sorry to hear that talented comedian and actor Louie Anderson died on Friday, Jan. 21.

I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing him on July 12, 2005, when I was news director at KVRR-TV. Louie was performing that day at Courtney’s Comedy Club in Moorhead.

Louie was very friendly and warm. He was also very funny that night. He had the packed crowd constantly laughing hard. The audience was in stitches. Some of his jokes were about his beloved mother.

“Yah, my mom was always the person who wanted to pick people up," Anderson joked at Courtney’s. “She would have picked up anyone, anywhere if it was cold enough out:

‘Oh geez, help pick him up there.’

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'Mom, that’s Charlie Manson.'

‘That’s all right. I will talk to him.’”

Louie was a native of Minnesota, and he never forgot where he came from. He performed often in Minnesota and North Dakota. He incorporated that in his act, too.

“The Midwest. That’s it,” he joked at Courtney’s. “I come back here, I fall right into it:

‘Oh, how you doin?’

'Yah, not bad. You?'”

Louie told me, “It’s always fun to work in Minnesota or North Dakota or South Dakota or Iowa, except Wisconsin. No, I’m kidding. I think what’s great about audiences in the Midwest is they’re rooting for you. They’re pointing for you. The cynicism isn’t built in here.”

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Louie Anderson performs at Courtney's Comedy Club in Moorhead on July 12, 2005.
Photo courtesy of KVRR-TV

Louie never hid his struggles in life, such as growing up in a dysfunctional family of 11 children with a father who was an abusive alcoholic, and his constant battles with being overweight. Still, that was part of his charm.

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“I think the reason that people come to see my comedy is that they feel like I struggle just as much as they do to get through the day,” Louie told me. “And I happen to have been given an opportunity to present it in a really funny way. You know, life is difficult for me. Life is difficult for everybody.”

Louie was one of those rare celebrities I interviewed who, despite his fame, seemed very genuine and sincere. I was pleasantly surprised when he asked me about my background and my family. He also thanked me for doing the interview, and asked for a copy of the news story, which I gladly sent to him.

“I think people feel like they know me,” Louie told me. “I think they feel like they could go to dinner with me, or I could be their neighbor, which is a real possibility.”

Louie told me his big break came when he appeared on “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson in 1984. He said he was greatly influenced by comedy legends Jack Benny, Bob Hope and Rodney Dangerfield.

Louie’s appeal was that he was down to earth and didn't use foul language. He just told stories from everyday life that we could all relate to. Many of those stories involved Minnesota and the Upper Midwest.

“My friends will say, 'Why don’t you move back to Minnesota,'" he joked at Courtney’s. “I go, I can’t live anywhere where the term ‘good gloves’ is used in a sentence. That’s not used anywhere else. That’s only in really cold weather:

‘You going out?’

'Yah.'

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‘You got your good gloves?’”

Rest in peace, Louie. Heaven just got a lot nicer and funnier.

Related Topics: MOORHEAD
InForum columnist Jim Shaw is a former WDAY TV reporter and former KVRR TV news director.
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