Louie Anderson/Star Tribune photo by Courtney Pedroza

Minutes before taking the stage at Turtle's Bar & Grill, Louie Anderson tripped over a step and nearly took a nosedive.

"I came this close to dying!" he mock whined at the start of his 90-minute set Thursday in Shakopee. "I can already feel bruises forming."

The St. Paul native's recovery served as a nice metaphor for his career. After being under-valued for more than a decade, the comedian has enjoyed a massive comeback thanks to his Emmy-winning role in FX's "Baskets" and a sensible diet that has him looking fitter and sunnier than he has in ages.

Before the show, he confirmed that he was recently cast as a reclusive professor in "Heft," a feature film to be directed by Mike Nichols' son, Max. Oscar winner Renee Zellweger is also set to star.

Despite the sweet success, Anderson keeps coming back to play intimate gigs in Twin CIties suburbia. In his Turtle's dressing room -- which was actually the bar's kitchen, blocked off by two portable tables turned on their sides -- he said the "hometown" performances were a good way to try out new material, as well as check in with family and his good friend, Scott Hansen, who booked the local shows.

As usual, there were plenty of Minnesota references scattered throughout his act, including a tale about how his dad checked him into Regions Hospital (then known as St. Paul-Ramsey County Medical Center) when he was a kid, thinking doctors could force his son to lose weight. Instead, the 13-year-old ended up being introduced to speed.

If anything has changed in the past two years, it's Anderson's deeper analysis of his love-hate relationship with his late father -- emphasis on hate. But he shined a surprisingly tender moment on his late dad at the end of Thursday's show, one that that had him choked back tears.

At least he didn't fall off the stool.

Anderson is at Maple Tavern in Maple Grove Friday and Saturday, followed by a Sunday show at Withrow Ballroom in Hugo. For tickets, go to brownpapertickets.com


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