In the new FX comedy "Baskets," Zach Galifianakis' mom looks familiar.
That's because she is played by one of the godfathers of 1980s standup: Louie Anderson.
"I play this as a mom," Anderson, now 62, explained to reporters Saturday morning at the Television Critics Assn. press tour in Pasadena. "I used my mom as the base of it and added mean people I've met through my life."
"Baskets" tells the story of Chip Baskets, a down-on-his-luck guy who takes a job as a rodeo clown after being trained as a clown in Paris. Galifianakis, 46, also executive produces, along with longtime friend and "Louie" star Louis C.K.
Anderson plays Christine Baskets as a matter-of-fact matriarch who complains about paying for Chip's clown education and also makes invidious comparisons between Chip and his twin Dale (also played by Galifianakis) and her other set of twins, a glamorous adopted pair who race cars and climb mountains.
Unlike a lot of actors who don drag to play female characters, Anderson doesn't try to raise the pitch of his voice or change his mannerisms in an exaggerated way.
"I wanted to really be Zach's mom and not make it cartoonish," Anderson said.
Galifianakis said he originally wanted the British actress Brenda Blethyn but was told she was unavailable. So he told Louis C.K. what kind of voice he envisioned the mom having.
"You mean like Louie Anderson?" Louis C.K. asked.
And while we're on the subject of Louis C.K.: He was asked again about the fate of "Louie," his acclaimed FX comedy that is now on idefinite hiatus and was addressed by network chief John Landgraf during his session earlier Saturday morning.
"I think about it sometimes and - I don't know," Louis C.K. said. He joked that he thought about the topic once every 48 days.
"Baskets" premieres Thursday.