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Ed Asner misses Maine (but not our weather)

January 16, 2019
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Emmy winning actor Ed Asner shows no sign of slowing down at the age of 89. He’s still touring the one man show “A Man and his Prostate,” which brought him to the Gracie Theatre at Husson University for two performances last October.

Asner is also touring around the country in the political stage show “God Help Us,” which will bring him back to Maine for a performance at the Eastport Arts Center on October 19.

“I play God in that one,” Asner says with his trademarked deadpan delivery.

“I made a lot of friends when I was in Maine last fall,” the star of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “Lou Grant” and “Elf” added. “I felt like an old wine that had been brought out to be breathed on.”

When I remark to Asner that I saw him all over social media last October posing in photos with friends, he reflected on how welcome everyone in Maine made him feel during his stay here.

“When people tell me they grew up with me, or they’ve always loved watching me, or that I’m an inspiration or something, it makes me feel old,” he said dryly. “Then I pick myself up and realize that it’s quite a compliment.”

When I asked him how it feels when people tell him they feel he’s been a like part of their family for decades, he said “Yeah, I’m the idiot uncle.”

Asner says he appreciated the receptive audiences at the Gracie Theatre, both at his “A Man and his Prostate” performances and at his appearance on “The Nite Show with Danny Cashman,” which tapes at the venue for air on WABI 5 in Bangor, FOX 23 in Portland, WAGM in Presque-Isle, and WGME in Portland.

“Danny was a wonderful host,” Asner told me. “He put me at ease and I was able to relax quite nicely there.”

He then asked me about Bangor’s current weather at the time of my interview with him. When I told him that we were in the midst of snow, sleet and freezing rain and asked if he would like to return to Bangor as soon as possible to experience it, he laughed for about 10 seconds before joking “I can’t come back right now. I absconded with all of the proceeds from the shows at the Gracie.”

On March 10, Asner is scheduled to perform “A Man and his Prostate” at “Gilda’s Laughfest 2019” – a comedy festival that will include more than 100 artists at more than 40 venues in and around Grand Rapids, Michigan.

“This will be the first time I’ve done something like this where my show appears amid a collection of other shows,” Asner told me. “This is all new territory for me.”

“Gilda’s Laughfest” is an annual series of benefit performances in memory of the late Gilda Radner. All proceeds will benefit cancer, grief and support programs offered through Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids. Tickets are available at www.LaughfestGR.org.

“I’ve certainly admired what they do and I love the idea that it exists,” Asner said of the annual benefit comedy showcase. “It’s a fine worthy cause.”

I asked Asner if he ever sits down to watch any of the old “Mary Tyler Moore” episodes he appeared in as Mary’s boss Lou Grant and if so, what does he think about when he watches?

“I don’t get to see it,” he responded. “I’m amazed to hear from people as I go around that they caught this episode or that one and I’d love to see it. I’d love to go home again. By that, I mean I’d love to watch my show again. It all happened around the time my kids were being born. Thank God for that because I don’t think they suffered. Their father was very happy. Time flew by during those years (1970 to 1977). We were having such a ball working together doing those great scripts. Nothing was lost out of my life. There was nothing but gain. We were one happy family, I’ll tell you. And we loved leaning on each other. I went to work happy and I came home happy.”

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