Louie Anderson

Phorto: Melly Allen

Today, March 24th 2023, would have been comedian Louie Anderson’s 70th birthday.
I first met Louie in 1989, when he published a book of letters to his alcoholic father, a book called Dear Dad. We talked again about that book a couple of years later, and then in 1993 I interviewed him again, for his book called Goodbye Jumbo, Hello Cruel World.

Louie struggled with his weight, and his self-image, for decades. Of course, he turned his weight problem into a source of comedy that made him immensely popular.

But it was in writing both those books that Louie Anderson really started to figure out who he was, and what he really wanted.

So I’ve decided today to offer you highlights of both interviews , starting with our conversation about Dear Dad. S

The next time I talked to Louie was in 1993. His book Goodbye Jumbo, Hello Cruel World was a chronicle of his struggles with weight. So here now, from 1993, Louie Anderson.

Louie Anderson died of cancer in January 2022.

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Edie Adams

Edie Adams was a very popular movie and television star in the 1950s, known widely for her comic impersonations of sexy singers, and her own wonderful singing voice.

But eventually she became even more widely known for being the wife of legendary television comic Ernie Kovacs. The two of them were a hugely popular comic duo.

But their story had a tragic end. In early 1962, Kovacs was killed in an auto accident. He was the only occupant of the car, and it was never known precisely what happened to cause the accident.

I met Edie Adams in 1990, when she finally wrote the book that publishers had been after her to write ever since Ernie kovacs’s death.

So here now, from 1990, Edie Adams.

Edie Adams died in 2008. She was 81.

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Gilbert Gottfried

We got sad news last week but comedian Gilbert Gottfried had succumbed after a long battle with muscular dystrophy.

Funny and controversial, by turns relatable and outrageous, Gilbert Gottfried built a fan base of millions.

In 2012 while he was on a whirlwind book tour, I had a few minutes with Gilbert.

And I found him to be exactly the kind of guy you would hope that he would be- the kind you’d love to sit down and have a few beers with.

So here now, from 2012, my interview with Gilbert Gottfried, as we talked about his book called…

Gilbert Gottfried was 67 when he died last week.

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Judith Belushi

Tomorrow, March 5th, is the 40th anniversary of the untimely deaf of comedian. John Belushi.

Belushi was one of the original cast members of Saturday Night Live when it premiered in 1975, and he was the star movies like Animal House and The Blues Brothers.

But John Belushi also had a substance abuse problem, and on March 5th, 1982, he died in a Los Angeles hotel room. A woman named Cathy Smith was accused of administering a fatal speedball to Belushi.

And suddenly, at the age of 31, his high school sweetheart Judy was left a widow.

A few years later, Judith Belushi wrote a memoir of her experience. And that’s when I met her.

So here now, from 1990, Judith Belushi.

Judith Belushi Pisano is 71 now. She and Victor Pisano divorced a couple of years ago.

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Yakov Smirnoff

Who knew Russians had such a great sense of humor?

Well, few Americans thought so, until the 1980s, when the young Russian-born Yakov Smirnoff burst onto the scene.

When he arrived here in 1977 from Ukraine, Smirnoff actually spoke no English.

But quickly he was able to turn his foreigner’s naivete into a very successful comedy act.

In 1987, with Smirnoff’s popularity nearing its peak — and just before a visit to the U.S. by Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev — Smirnoff went on a book tour to promote a hilarious book he call America on Six Rubles A Day.

So here now, from 1987, Yakov Smirnoff.

Yakov Smirnoff is 70 now. He still performs occasionally at his theater in Branson, Missouri, and tours world wide.

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Bill Kinison

It was an HBO Young Comedians special in late summer 1985 that launched a young comedian to national fame. Sam Kinison became wildly popular almost overnight.

And for the next several years was one of America’s favorite stand-up comedians.

Tragically Sam Kinison’s life ended abruptly in April 1992 in a horrible car crash in California. His brother Bill Kinison was in the car behind him and witness the accident.

Two years later Bill Kinison wrote a book about his little brother call Brother Sam. That’s why I had a chance to meet him/

So here now from 1994 Bill Kinison.

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Al Franken

Al Franken has had several careers. He was one of the original writers and cast members of Saturday Night Live in the mid-1970s. In fact, he was with the show for 15 years.

Later he became a liberal commentator, with his own radio show.

Then there was a short-lived NBC sitcom called Lateline..

And then, in 2008, he ran for the United States Senate from Minnesota. And he won. Six years later, he was re-elected.

But he was forced to resign his senate seat in early 2018, after allegations of sexual misconduct.

Al Franken is now 70 years old. He can be heard Saturday mornings on Sirius-XM Radio. And he’s currently on a 15-city live tour.

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Steve Allen

Long before Jimmy Fallon, way before Jay Leno, before Johnny Carson, or Jack Paar .. NBC’s Tonight Show was hosted by its co-creator Steve Allen.

In the fall of 1954, the 32 year old comedian and entertainer became the host of televisions first-ever late night talk show.

Largely thanks to Alan’s intelligent humor, The Tonight Show became a hit.

Steve Allen soon moved on to other Ventures, but was always widely popular and in-demand.

I first met him in early 1987, when he wrote a book he modestly called How To Be Funny.

So get ready for some tips from a master of his craft. Here now, my 1987 interview with Steve Allen.

Steve Allen died in 2000. He was 78.

Lewis Black


Lewis Black makes us laugh by being the angry man.

The perpetually irritated Lewis Black wrote a book in 2005, a semi-autobiographical account but he called Nothing’s Sacred.

And that;s when I met him.

But instead of an “angry ma,” I found a gentle, warm, and very likeable man, who was eager to talk about seriouos things as well as comedy shtick.

So here now, from 2005, Lewis Black.

Lewis Black will be 73 this summer. He lives in New York and North Carolina.

Cheech Marin

if you were in high school or college in the 1970’s, as I was, you undoubtedly are familiar with the comedy of Cheech and Chong.

Cheech Marin went on to act in dozens and dozens of TV shows and movies, as well as doing voices for several animated films.

But what you may not know is that Marilyn is also an astute art collector.

That’s how I met him, in 2002, when he published a book of his collection of Chicano art.

So here now, from 2002, Cheech Marin:

Cheech Marin is 74 now. He lives in Malibu.