Louie Anderson: A Mom is Born

LouieAThere is a lot to recommend “Baskets,” the hilarious new Zach Galifianakis comedy that starts Thursday on FX, about a French-trained clown who gets a job as a rodeo clown in Bakersfield, Calif.

Co-produced by Louis C.K. and directed by Jonathan Krisel (“Portlandia”), it’s got a star making  turn by the super deadpan Martha Kelly and the most surprising comeback of the season, with the veteran comedian Louie Anderson wearing a dress and wig to play Galifianakis’ sour mother.

He nails the role because he doesn’t compromise. “I’m playing this as a mom,” Anderson told writers at the TV Critics Association winter press tour Saturday. “I got into the outfits right away. They put the wig on, and once that lipstick got on, I was done for. I did. I played it completely as a mom.”

Galifianakis, for his part, says without apparent irony, that he really wanted the British actress Brenda Blethyn. “She wasn’t available, and I was telling Louis C.K. we were at my house, and I just said to Louis C.K., I said, ‘I don’t know. I don’t know. It’s just a voice in my head. The mother is a voice more than anything else,’ and I imitated the voice, and Louis C.K. says, ‘You mean like Louie Anderson’s voice?’  And I said, ‘Yes.’ And he goes, ‘Should we call him?’ And then the next minute, the two Louies were on the phone.”

According to Galifianakis, C.K. says, “‘Here’s the thing. We want you to play his mom. ‘I’ll do it.’ And that’s exactly how it went.”

“I remember that pause,” Louis C.K. says. “and you could just hear the hum of his car, and then, ‘I love it.’ And the way he said that, I’m like, ‘That’s it. That’s your mother.’

“Louie has kind of been channeling his mom on stage a number of years,” Galifianakis says, “so the character kind of came along with it, so we got kinda got lucky that way.”

“I really used my mom as the base of it,” Anderson said, “and then added mean people I’ve met through my life to add on to it and other moms, and I have five sisters, so what I wanted to do was I wanted to really be Zach’s mom and not make it cartoonish.”

For C.K. it was a way to honor one of his heroes.

“He’s one of the guys I always liked from the big ’80s boom,” C.K. says.”I always loved him because he’s a sincere standup. I just like that better rather than people that are sort of sarcastic or putting you on. Louie is a real ‘heart on his sleeve’ kind of a standup. So I always really liked him.”


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