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Louie Anderson makes a big name for himself as 400-pound plunger on ‘Splash’

Nobody can say that Louie Anderson doesn’t dive in head first to take on a challenge.

The 59-year-old, 400-pound comic has built a career dredging up a smorgasbord of painful childhood memories about being the last guy picked in any playground games. But now he’s training four hours a day to take on former athletes and younger celebs in ABC’s new competitive diving series, “Splash.”

“My manager showed me a tape of a big person competing in a Dutch version of ‘Splash’ … and I just said … ‘point me to the pool,’ ” he says.

Anderson’s themes of rejection have fueled a successful standup career, as well as his successful animated children’s series, “Life With Louie.” But this show gave him the opportunity to put his oversized trunks where his mouth has been.

“This is my chance to make a difference … and not just in the water level of the pool,” he says. “It lets me show every big person out there, who needs some kind of catalyst to reclaim their lives, that they can do it too.”

While his performance in the competition should prove to be more than the titanic joke that was anticipated when he first signed on, he has had an iceberg moment.

In January, Anderson practiced so hard on his diving that he exhausted himself and couldn’t climb out of the pool one day. When he slipped underwater, fellow competitor and NFL All-Pro defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh dove in and pulled him out of the pool.

“It was a tough day, and I appreciate him having my back, but the biggest embarrassment is being saved by a Detroit Lion,” notes Anderson. “I’m a Vikings fan from Minnesota!”

It’s been smooth sailing since, with good scores and improving performances. “I’ve lost weight … and I’m in it to win it! I’ve been working out for seven weeks,” he says, “but this is the most excited I’ve been to go to work since I hosted ‘Family Feud’ more than 10 years ago.”

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