SALT LAKE CITY — Tim Allen said he nearly walked out of a performance of “The Book of Mormon” musical, but hopes Utahns won’t do the same to him Oct. 20 when he comes to the Eccles Theater in Salt Lake City.
Ahead of his stand-up comedy performance, the actor and comedian spoke with the Deseret News sharing his thoughts on conservative TV characters in Hollywood. Allen also spoke about Mormons, his faith and his stand-up comedy career.
“I’ve got to throw this one out there,” Allen said. “I almost walked out of ‘The Book of Mormon’ musical. I found that horrible. I don’t think it was funny at all.”
Allen, who began performing stand-up in 1975, said he found the musical “troubling” and “mean-spirited” — that if any other faith had been presented the way Mormons were, the production would not have happened.
“And again, it shows a level of class,” Allen said. “I mean, there wasn’t any blowback from the Mormons.”
The comedian said he was a religious studies and philosophy major and has great respect for people of all faiths, including members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and knows when a joke about religion has gone too far.
Allen recalled a joke he told about Mormons during a tour of Temple Square. After hearing the stories of the Mormon pioneers, studying the dioramas of the Salt Lake Temple, and seeing what he thought were the actual gold plates from the early days of the church, Allen said he thought, “This is amazing — I’m going to become Mormon.”
But when the tour guide mentioned the real gold plates were taken back away by God, Allen said Joseph Smith must have simply misplaced them and couldn’t explain it to his wife.
“Of all things, you’d probably keep those close in your house,” Allen said. “I think I put that in a book, and I got a letter from the Mormon Church that they were not (necessarily kept in Smith’s house). But, as odd as it is, you can’t get that story out of nothing.”
Allen said he was raised Anglican and would get in trouble for constantly asking the priest questions.
“They can’t answer it,” Allen said. “You kind of have to drop it. Anytime the prophets speak in the Old Testament, I’m like, ‘What? Does anyone understand that?’”
He and his wife ultimately chose to raise their kids in his wife’s Catholic faith where Allen describes the current priest as “wonderful,” though he too is bombarded with questions from Allen.
Although he is glad to be doing more stand-up in recent months following the cancellation of his hit ABC sitcom “Last Man Standing,” Allen said there was no shortage of comedy work for him to do over the past several years.
Despite his heavy acting schedule — working 10-hour days, five days a week — Allen would still end some of his days doing stand-up in Las Vegas at The Mirage hotel and casino.
Following the cancellation of "Last Man Standing," Allen was able to start traveling again for his comedy routines, performing them across the country.
“There were some offers out there — Salt Lake being one of them,” Allen said. “I’m humbled and grateful there are offers coming in from cities I’ve loved coming to before. It’s exciting.”
Allen said although he is not the biggest fan of travel, he has done it for years as part of his stand-up career and loves the opportunity it gives him to see and perform in other cities across the nation.
He has been on TV shows, movies, and has even written books, but Allen said his home has always been in stand-up comedy.
“Once I get out there, I’m extremely honored to be able to do this,” Allen said. “I love it. I love doing stand-up — there’s no question.
“There’s nothing like midway through and I’ve got these big bits I can’t wait to deliver to the audience. It’s humbling to go back to this, but this is what I do, and I love being able to do it.”
Content advisory: "Tim Allen Live!" is for mature audiences.
If you go
What: “Tim Allen Live! On Stage”
Where: Eccles Theater, 131 S. Main Street
When: Friday, Oct. 20, 8 p.m.
How Much: Tickets range from $40 to $125