Audience and Anderson have grown in sync with each other

louie-anderson-photo-credit-neil-visel.jpgConsider him comedic comfort food for a generation that increasingly needs comforting.

Despite his shrinking spotlight, his Strip run at Excalibur gone off-Strip at Palace Station, Louie Anderson is, after nearly 30 years, evolving from specialty comic—i.e., fat jokes—to generational voice. All it takes is a fatter, aging generation catching up to him.

Big Baby Boomer, Anderson’s new show, isn’t any more cutting edge than Anderson’s has ever been, which is to say not much. Gags? Drug-sniffing dogs at airport customs head for his luggage “because there’s food in them.” McDonald’s, Krispy Kreme, Cold Stone and Pizza Hut are “Mount Rushmore.” Browsing through his closet, he notes: “If I get one more X on my clothing, I’m next year’s Super Bowl.”

Wrapping comedy in easygoing warmth has always been Anderson’s strength. (When he chats with the crowd, it’s clear he’d be horrified scoring laughs at their expense, even though his routine’s rhythm suffers because he passes on potential punch lines.)

Maestro of self-mocking fat jokes, Anderson spent years coaxing a younger, slimmer audience of boomers in their prime to imagine themselves in his place while allowing them to feel superior. Now Anderson’s fans don’t have to imagine—they can directly relate. Boomers are not only shifting into senior-hood with him, but fat-hood as well, “obesity” becoming as much a descriptor now as “flower power” was in the ’60s.

Much of 59-year-old Anderson’s material now aims at both our expanding girth and aging bones, such as joking about the Beach Boys coming onstage “on walkers attached to surfboards.” Or riffing about his angioplasty—the purple heart of the AARP set—recognizing his ticker on the monitor because “it’s wrapped in bacon.” Lots of Anderson’s audience now would see theirs swimming in butter, gravy and marinara sauce Catch-up is complete. Yesterday they laughed at Anderson’s foibles. Today they laugh at their own.

NOSH ON NOTES: Punch up another jukebox musical: Rock of Ages, the campy-to-the-max Broadway salute to wild-haired ’80s rockers, will settle into the Venetian in December in the room vacated by Blue Man Group, now at Monte Carlo. Along with the tie-in with the hotel’s new Bourbon Room—inspired by the Sunset Strip club in the show—the musical gets a shot of publicity via the movie adaptation, due out June 15. Producers are doubtless counting on rapturous—or at least not disastrous—reviews to fuel the Vegas version. Barring that, the Bourbon Room’s liquid charms can make visitors forget they saw the flick. …

While the musical Million Dollar Quartet is at The Smith Center (see “Hot Ticket,” below), producers will hold auditions for future cast members. Try your luck at 11 a.m. June 14, at the BackStage Dance Studio, 3425 Backstage Blvd. Visit MillionDollarQuartetLive.com for info.

STRIP POSTSCRIPT: Promoting Flamingo headliner George Wallace, a news release touts the comic as the “King of Twitter,” boasting he’s the “#106 Most Recommended Celebrity” on the social-media grapevine. Crowned “King” when 105 people are ahead of you?

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By Roger Moore, Tribune Media Services

Josh Brolin impersonating the young Tommy Lee Jones is worth the price of admission to Men in Black 3. Dry, drawling, deadpan, he nails the flinty Texan in this sentimental sequel to the sci-fi comedies about secret agents in black suits that save the world from aliens. We have to meet the young Agent K because an alien serial killer who isn’t fond of his nickname, “Boris the Animal” (Jemaine Clement), has traveled back in time to save the arm that Agent K shot off in 1969, and avoid the 40-year prison sentence that followed.

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