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Louie Anderson says he's scaling back on fat jokes, doesn't need self-deprecating humor to get laughs

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Self-deprecating humor is not in his diet.

After years of poking fun at his own weight, comedian Louie Anderson said he’s cutting back on the fat jokes. He claims he can still get audiences to laugh without becoming the butt of his own jokes.

“My act has always been about my family, or about me being fat in my family,” Anderson told the Philadelphia Inquirer in an interview published Tuesday. The 66-year-old first sprung onto the stand-up comedy scene in the 1970s — a time when he said he weighed more than 400 pounds.

When Anderson went up to take the stage, he’d joke that he should move the microphone stand out of the way so that the audience could see him. He also would joke, “every time I’d lay down, they tried to push me back into the water.”

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Now the comedian said he’s trying to make peace with his past. He described stand-up comedy as a sort of therapy for some performers. After growing up in Minnesota in a household of 11 children, Anderson said the stage has helped him overcome issues with his alcoholic father who has since passed away.

“I only do a few real fat jokes. I kind of get it out of the way,” he said. “I talk about how much I love food. My mom loved butter. I love butter. My dad drank. I just decided food was going to be my addiction.”

Louie Anderson pictured at the 68th Emmy Awards hosted at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, Sunday, September 18, 2016.
(Image Group LA/ABC via Getty Images)

“I say if I get one more X on my clothing, I’m next year’s Super Bowl. Or when I go to a ‘big and tall’ store, you never run into any tall people,” Anderson explained. “I make sure they’re really funny jokes, but I don’t dwell on it. I’m just telling you what it’s like to be a big person.”

Anderson won an Emmy for playing Zach Galifianakis’s mother on the FX TV cringe-com Baskets, a role he said is partially inspired by his own mom and five sisters.

“Christine is kind of a cult figure, so I try to let people know where that character came from,” Anderson said. In the series, Anderson dresses in a wig, dress and makeup, making sure to emphasize his already naturally high-pitch voice.

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Anderson concluded the interview by saying he’s moving toward a more positive future as an entertainer by forgiving his father.

“I think it’s about remembering your parents in the fondest way that you can. And cut people slack that have a hard time in life. Don’t be so hard on them. They’re doing the best they can. I don’t think people choose to be screw-ups.”

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