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Western Animation / Life with Louie

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"Let me tell you about my family."
Louie Anderson as the episode starts

Life With Louie is an American cartoon co-created by stand-up comedian and actor Louie Anderson and loosely based on his childhood. The series ran from 1995 to 1998 and won multiple awards, including two Emmy Awards.

The story is set in Wisconsin in The '60s. Louie Anderson is an 8-year-old kid, living with several brothers and sisters, mother Ora and father Andy. Andy is a neurotic, overbearing but caring World War II veteran who often seems to be a little... out of touch with reality. We follow Louie's adventures and everyday life, which would be pretty simple (eating, sleeping, watching TV, having a crush on schoolmate) if either Louie or Andy wouldn't constantly botch it.

To this day, the show is still not available on DVD, even though many other cartoons from the same era are- since it was a show that was produced and aired on Fox Kids, it's expected.

Not to be confused with ''Life With Loopy'', which is an entirely different thing.

Life With Louie provides examples of:

  • Actually Pretty Funny: In the first Christmas Episode, Louie and Tommy give Andy a couple of tools... tools he already owns and had been looking for. He concedes that was a decent gag.
  • Anachronism Stew:
    • The real Louie was born in 1953, and in the show he is eight years old, which would put us in 1961. However, in a season 2 episode, Louie and Andy meet President Eisenhower (whose term ended in January 1961). Furthermore, it is never clear exactly how old Andy was when he was in World War II. In most flashbacks he appears much younger, and in one episode Ora and Andy claim that they met shortly after Andy returned from Europe. But if that's the case, then they've known each other only about 15 years—even though some of their children seem to be adults.
    • In-Universe: Andy's war stories. One of them includes a Japanese Zero attacking Andy. In North Africa.
  • The Alleged Car: The family's Rambler. It even gets its own A Day in the Limelight episode due to its sorry state.
  • As Himself: Louie Anderson voices his childhood self and also has a small live-action segment opening each episode.
  • Been There, Shaped History: Andy claims to have coined the phrase "I Like Ike" during his war service. Unlike a lot of his other stories, this one seems to be true as Dwight D. Eisenhower actually knows who he is.
  • Big, Thin, Short Trio: The school bullies of Louie's class Glen Glenn (big and fat), Craig Eric (small and fat), and Paul George (thin yet taller than Glen Glenn).
  • Born in an Elevator: While explaining why he wants so desperately to keep fixing the Rambler rather than buy a new car, Andy explains that Louie and one of his other siblings were born in the back seat at the drive-in.
  • "Brave the Ride" Plot: In "A Fair to Remember", the Anderson family go to a fair. Louie's little brother, Tommy, keeps wanting to ride the exciting rides, one of which is a tilt-a-whirl with a dragon theme. Louie, who's been tasked with watching him, keeps trying to go on kiddie rides. But is ultimately forced to ride it when Tommy sneaks away from him.
  • Broken Pedestal:
    • In one episode, Louie starts idolizing a stand up comic, but at one point realizes that he was a bit of a Jerkass seeing as his comedy was a variety of Insult Comic. He ditches his first chance at being on stage and instead goes home. Where he starts telling stories to his parents and siblings and how crazy they are as a whole, and how he loves them, effectively finding his voice as a comedian.
    • There's another episode where Louie finds a picture of his dad's alleged squad but without his dad. It takes an episode to find out why.
  • Butt-Monkey: Both Andy and Louie can never win. Even Louie's younger brother treats him like this.
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin': In the Halloween episode, Louie steals a single piece of candy. The shop's owner informs him that he will make an inventory check and if anything is missing, he will know whose parents to call. Louie was so scared that the next night he broke into a store to return that candy. The same episode introduced three criminals, who all started their careers by stealing one piece of candy.
  • Catchphrase: Several, but the most used are Andy's "For crying out loud!" and "I heard that." in response to anyone's (mostly Louie's) Deadpan Snarker comments about him. And another one very often is Louie's mom berating Andy with ... well.. "Andy!"
  • Celebrity Toons: Natch, and one of the rare cases where the celebrity involved did the voice work.
  • The Chessmaster: Literal example. Both Louie and Andy are very skilled at chess, but it's not reflected by any other skills typical for The Chessmaster.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Andy, without a shadow of a doubt.
  • Comic Role Play
  • The Conscience: Jeannie, most of times when Louie does something bad.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Louie and Andy both get a lot of mileage out of this trope.
  • Fake Ultimate Hero: Andy portrays himself as an incarnation of some god of war in his stories. In one episode he scared a squirrel that attacked Louie, however each time he was telling somebody about it, he was replacing it with more dangerous animals. It ends with a story where he handles a giant snowbear (A fictional animal / folk legend in story) with his bare hands.
    Andy: When we were stationed in Siberia, I was fighting with bears for money. Five rubles for bear's skin. I was earning 25 rubles per day!
  • Formerly Fit: Flashbacks show WWII-era Andy being slender and fit. After twenty years and eleven kids, he's gone to pot. Ora, on the other hand, is shown as always being somewhat chubby and is now matronly.
  • Freudian Excuse: Louie is the second youngest in the family, so he knows a thing or two about older siblings bullying him and telling him what to do. Tommy coming along meant Louie got to do that to someone else for a change.
  • Gang of Bullies: Glen Glenn and his two buddies, Craig Eric and Paul George.
  • Generation Xerox: Andy bears a strong resemblance to his mother Helga, to the point of sharing the same glasses, nose, chin, and some militaristic tendencies. Naturally, they resent each other for the most part.
    Tommy: You two look more and more alike every day.
    Helga: Well, we are related.
    Andy and Helga: {in unison} Just my luck!
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: According to Louie, how you feel after getting hit in the ear with a slush ball makes you want to "swear."
    Louie: DARN IT!
  • He Who Must Not Be Seen: Played with for Andy and Ora's eight other kids. Sometimes they've been outright seen, but usually the three variants are made use of in some fashion.
  • Hikikomori: Louie has a close call with a tornado and is obviously traumatised. He refuses to leave his own room, and even inside of it, he keeps hiding under a bed (to which he ties himself with a rope) for the most part.
  • Insult Comic: Louie once became acquainted with an immensely popular stand-up comedian (who used to be friends with Louie's mother) whose whole routine revolved around selecting people in the audience to insult for humor. When Louie himself became a target of mockery for his weight, he decided that he didn't want to become known as a comedian who made fun of other people's misery. The end of the episode shows the comedian Lonely at the Top.
  • Is There a Doctor in the House?: When Ora goes into labor at the drive-in, Andy grabs the speaker and yells "Medic! Is there a doctor in the house?"
  • It Will Never Catch On: Andy's almost-exact words about a new concept of a "mall".
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Andy is a lot more caring than he lets on.
  • Lighter and Softer: Andy is a much more sympathetic portrayal of Anderson's real life dad than how he has originally described him as.
  • Mama Bear: Ora doesn't have many moments, but when she outright snaps Andy's shotgun in half for bringing a loaded weapon in the house to shoot a deer, you know she's got some qualities.
  • Massive Numbered Siblings: Louie has nine siblings, and only Tommy is younger.
  • Nostalgia Filter: How Anderson was able to turn an emotionally abusive childhood growing up with an alcoholic, wife-beating father in the slums of St. Paul, Minnesota into this.
  • No Swastikas: Played straight in Andy's World War II flashbacks. To a point. Although there aren't any Swastikas, the German soldiers he is seen fighting do have prominent Waffen-SS lightning bolt insignia (even if they're wearing World War I-era Pickelhaube helmets for some reason).
  • One-Neighbor Neighborhood: Anderson's only neighbors we see are Jensens.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: How Louie proved to Ora that everybody are going nuts without Jen Glen
    Louie: Hey, dad, tell me about war.
    Andy: What war?
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: In conjunction with the Fake Ultimate Hero and Phony Veteran entries, Louie is desperately trying to find someone who knows his father but none of his old war buddies have ever heard of Andy Anderson. After Andy saves them from a fire during the parade, it is revealed that his old war buddies only remember him by his nickname of "keister". It turns out his one real act of heroism was that he was making breakfast one morning unaware that enemies were approaching. He slipped and sat on the hot stove and his screams of pain awakened his buddies who quickly discovered and defeated the enemy ambush. In honor of his wounds, Andy was nicknamed "keister" for the rest of the war.
  • Papa Wolf: Despite his faults, Andy will go out of his way for his family if they're in danger.
  • Phony Veteran: Andy defines this trope. Andy remembers things... differently from what really happened. Might be that it is a defense mechanism of trying to cope with what really happened, making Andy a Shell-Shocked Veteran. For all the jokes about how he's a fake, one episode revolved around Louie finding a picture of his dad's old squad... without his dad. The logical ensues. Until he meets his dad's old squaddies, and they glorify him and say he was holding the camera.
  • Politician Guest-Star: President Dwight D. Eisenhower briefly appeared in the Washington D.C. episode to confirm that Andy's stories about him are true.
  • Puppy Love: Jeannie and Louie. Though not of the sickenly cute variety.
  • Ridiculously Long Phone Hold: In one episode, Ora (the mother of the main character) calls the camp where Louie is on a vacation, since she wants to talk to him. Due to the fact that Louie is currently on a trip through the forest, and a troubled one at that, the woman who receives the call tells Ora that it might take some time before he can come to the phone. Ora says that she will wait anyway, possibly spending a few hours just sitting at the phone silently. The episode ends with Louie's dad receiving an absurdly high phone bill.
  • Shaped Like Itself:
    Andy: Of course I can tell the difference between army,
  • Show Within a Show: Night Sniffer, an in-verse comic and TV show (performed by puppets) about an anthropomorphic dog dressed in typical judge garb who solves crimes and is loved by the kids.
  • Shout-Out:
    Judge: I want the truth.
    • The best part? Judge wanted to know whether Andy parked in a site for disabled people.
    • Another episode (Same one as mentioned in The Chessmaster) Andy recaps how chess was regarded in the past. Cue him being strapped to a table, with a small compact chess set in his hand, dropping it and shouting "FREEEEEEEDOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM."
    • When Louie seems addicted to films, Andy points out they need to lure him away from the dark side. It turns out he got it from a film, Curse of the Mummy.
    • When Andy and Louie try to catch a particularly large fish: "We're gonna need a bigger boat."
    • When organising a search party for Louie and Glen Glenn, Andy quotes almost verbatim The Fugitive address to the search parties. The episode itself is one big shout-out to The Defiant Ones.
    • Once Andy takes over as a baseball coach, he both dresses up as and paraphrases Patton.
  • Smart People Play Chess: Subverted. Louie and Andy are of their town, the best at playing chess. Neither of them will be winning Nobel prizes any time soon.
  • Snobby Hobbies: When Earl Grunewald, Mike's father, gets promoted to middle management, his family suddenly starts having a lot of extra income - and the attitude that goes with it. The episode centres on the Grunewalds taking all their friends to a ski resort, explicitly to show off their newfound wealth. Each of the Andersons attempts to deal with the fact that they stand out like sore thumbs in the crowd of rich folks.
  • Snooty Sports: At one point, Louie got a part-time job as a golf caddy. The sport is portrayed as a way for the filthy rich to kill time and discuss business in a more friendly environment. It actually rubs on Louie, who gets stuck up toward his family and peers, but also providing him with insider trading intel that Andy manages to apply at the end of the episode.
  • Summer Campy: One of the episodes has Louie ending up in one of those. So does Glen Glenn. It quickly escalates into Horrible Camping Trip, as they end up lost in the woods while chained together. Oh, and Ora is constantly calling to check out how's Louie doing.
  • Tomboy: Jeannie, who is integral part of the otherwise all-boy group of friends, acting just like the rest of the boys.
  • Translator Buddy: Andy's use of military jargon typically goes over the heads of Louie, Tommy, and his other children. Ora explains to them what Andy is trying to say.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: The show proudly admits it's only inspired by the real Louie Anderson's childhood, with Anderson himself telling the actual story before the episode begins.
  • Very Special Episode: An unusually unpreachy one in which Louie's family has to cope with the death of his grandmother.
  • Vocal Dissonance: Louie Anderson changes his tone rather than his pitch to play himself at age eight, giving the character a surprisingly deep voice for someone who's still several years away from puberty.
  • We Want Our Jerk Back!: In one episode Glen Glenn's mother, Jen, Jerkass and Large Ham feared in the entire town, lost her voice to everybody's relief. At last at first... Then entire town started acting like if they were turned into some decayed Dark World or even Mirror Universe versions of themselves. In the end they all worked together to raise enough money to pay for her operation. Even Andy, who hates Jen's guts, gave everybody a Rousing Speech.
    Andy: We are like army. And army takes care of its soldiers. Even if that soldier is a pain in the butt.