Remembering Louie Anderson: stand-up comedian’s most memorable roles

Louie Anderson
(Image credit: Photo by Dan MacMedan/Getty Images)

Stand-up comedian and Emmy-winning actor Louie Anderson died on Friday, Jan. 21, at the age of 68, multiple outlets reported. With a career that spanned more than 30 years on the stage, TV and on film, Anderson charmed audiences with his big heart and instantly recognizable voice.

It was only recently shared that Anderson was battling cancer, with the comedian passing away from the disease in Las Vegas. Fans and fellow comedians shared their feelings on social media following the news:

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Hailing from Minnesota, Anderson broke out as a comedian after appearing on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson in 1984 and other late-night shows, a 1987 Showtime comedy special and cameos in a number of classic ‘80s comedies. He expanded his fan base in the ‘90s when he created the animated series Life with Louie and served as a host for Family Feud. Anderson’s career highlight, however, came with the FX series Baskets, for which he earned his Emmy award.

We will all miss Anderson’s big, gap-toothed smile, but we will always be able to see it again in his work. Here are some of Louie Anderson’s most memorable roles.


Louie Anderson in Baskets

(Image credit: FX)

Louie Anderson surprised everyone with his incredible performance as Christine Baskets, the overbearing mother to Zach Galifinakis’ lead character on the FX comedy Baskets. Anderson received the best reviews of his career as Christine, including earning an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy series in 2016 and being nominated two more times (2017 and 2018) during the show’s four-season run. When we want to be reminded of Anderson’s gift as a comedic actor, Baskets will be the place to go first.

How to watch: Baskets is available to stream on Hulu or rent on other streaming services (Prime Video, YouTube, Google Play).

‘Life With Louie’

Life with Louie

(Image credit: Fox)

Life With Louie introduced Louie Anderson to a whole new generation of younger fans (including myself), as it was an animated series that ran on Fox from 1994 to 1998. Based on his life growing up with 10 siblings, Anderson pulled triple duty on the show, serving as the narrator and voicing the characters of Little Louie and his dad, Andy Anderson. Anderson would earn two Daytime Emmys for his work on the show.

How to watch: Episodes of Life With Louie are available to watch on YouTube.

Coming to America

Louie Anderson Coming to America

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

Louie Anderson didn’t have a ton of movie credits to his name, but he will always have his supporting role in one of the great comedies of all time, Eddie Murphy’s Coming to America. As McDowell co-worker Maurice to Murphy’s Prince Akeem, Anderson gets some fun scenes with Murphy and company, all while sporting the iconic plaid uniform of the fictional fast-food chain that is nothing like McDonald’s. Anderson’s Maurice would then make a cameo in the 2021 sequel, Coming 2 America, where he now works at a McDowell’s in Zamunda.

How to watch: Coming to America is available to rent online starting at $2.99; Coming 2 America is available to stream on Prime Video.

Louie Anderson: Big Underwear

Louie Anderson: Big Underwear

(Image credit: Prime Video)

Anderson’s first love was always stand-up. He performed six stand-up specials throughout his career, with his most recent being Louie Anderson: Big Underwear which was released in 2018. In the special, he tackles topics like the challenges of getting healthy, life on the road, dealing with technology and how we all eventually become our parents.

How to watch: Louie Anderson: Big Underwear is available on Pluto TV, Tubi and Prime Video.

Michael Balderston

Michael Balderston is a DC-based entertainment and assistant managing editor for What to Watch, who has previously written about the TV and movies with TV Technology, Awards Circuit and regional publications. Spending most of his time watching new movies at the theater or classics on TCM, some of Michael's favorite movies include Casablanca, Moulin Rouge!, Silence of the Lambs, Children of Men, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest and Star Wars. On the TV side he enjoys Peaky Blinders, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Saturday Night Live, Only Murders in the Building and is always up for a Seinfeld rerun. Follow on Letterboxd.