The two sides of the coin called fame
While Robin Leach takes his traditional summer vacation under the Tuscan sun in Italy, many of our Strip and Las Vegas personalities have stepped forward in his absence to pen their own words of wisdom. Our thanks to them all. We continue with heavyweight (said lovingly) TV comedian Louie Anderson, who headlines his own Comedy Club at Palace Station.
Some days you are famous, and some days you used to be! I use the word “famous” because it’s what people mostly use. I prefer “popular,” but it doesn’t work with the story.
Every once and a while, I get out of Las Vegas and do a few road gigs. This time, I’m on a trip to South Dakota, Minnesota and Utah. On my way to Rapid City, S.D., I flew into Minneapolis for my layover. I’m most famous in Minnesota … you know, hometown boy does pretty good. I’ve always believed that the airport in Minnesota should be called “The Minneapolis and St. Paul Airport & Fitness Center.” I think some parts of the airport are actually in Wisconsin.
I get to Rapid City at night and check into a hotel, and there’s a news crew set up in the lobby. Well, it’s not really a “crew”; it’s one guy with a camera and lights and his slightly tipsy wife (who is a fan of mine). A guy walked through the lobby, glared at me and walked off mumbling something about “damn celebrities.” I think it’s safe to say he won’t be at the show.
The interviewer asks me, “How long have you been doing comedy?” “Thirty-three years,” I say. He continued, “When did you know you made it?” I responded, “When I got my first upgrade from coach to first class.” The person working at the airline had been to my show and decided that I was famous enough for an upgrade. Being upgraded to first class from coach is a fat person’s answered prayer.
Fame or popularity is something you should never count on. It should be appreciated but never expected. Once someone said to me, “Hey, are you Louie Anderson?” “Yes,” I said and smiled and stuck out my hand ready for some praise. The guy scowled at me and said, “I don’t want to meet you; I want you to move your car. You are blocking me in.”
I think the best things about fame are that sometimes you don’t have to wait for a table at a restaurant, you can usually get on any golf course, and no show is ever sold out. But here’s my favorite thing about being famous: It makes people happy. Yes, I know … weird, right?
Sometimes just running into me makes my fans happy. Sometimes smiling happy, sometimes screaming happy, and sometimes even crying happy. It is still difficult for me to believe at times that I give someone a feeling of happiness. I’m humbled by it.
Just before I started writing this, I was boarding the flight to Salt Lake City for the final leg of this road trip and a fan stopped at my first-class seat (I paid full price; no upgrade) and said, “Are you Louie Anderson?” “Yes,” I said. He replied very loudly, “I love you! Your HBO and Showtime comedy specials are the funniest. I’m so happy to meet you; I’m a big fan!”
I thanked him. He seemed so genuinely happy. It was really cool, and I’m glad that I can enjoy it. Before I left Las Vegas for my trip, I was at Kathleen Madigan’s show at the Mirage. It was a great show and party afterwards. Her show started at 10 p.m., and I was getting tired. I decided to leave the party about 1 a.m.
As I left Onda to go to my car, I walked by a bank of slot machines, and a young girl said to me, “Hey, come over here!” I replied, “What do you want?” I was beat. She pointed to the girl next to her and said, “She said you used to be famous?” I said, “Yes, and I still am … sometimes.”
P.S. After getting off the plane, I was headed to baggage and someone tapped me on the shoulder. It was the fan on the plane. He stuck out his hand, I shook it, and he smiled and said, “I want you to know you really made my day.”
I smiled and said, “You made mine also! You really did … now get away from me — I’m famous!” Just kidding.
Our thanks to Louie for his comedy tales from the road. Be sure to check out our other guest columns today from Las Vegas’ new pop sensation Lex Rox and dancer Ben Chung of Monte Carlo headliners the Jabbawockeez. Join us Sunday when our guest columnists are nightlife czar Jack Colton, HGTV’s Allison Victoria and the man who keeps the wine angels flying at Aureole in Mandalay Bay
By Louie Anderson,