Newly lean queen of mean is no less tart of tongue
Comedy wasn’t the path Lisa Lampanelli thought she would take as she entered adulthood. Music journalism was her field at first, but she always made people laugh. Lampanelli’s specialty was a no-holds barred attitude toward race, sex, train-wreck celebrities and her own weight. She put a new spin on the latter recently when she lost 100 pounds. Fortunately, her appetite for insult comedy was unaffected. Las Vegas Magazine’s Matt Kelemen spoke to Lampanelli recently.
Q. Did you know there were Big Mac commercials between your videos on Comedy Central?
A: I had no idea! I’m not surprised, though. Unfortunately, there aren’t many videos of me onstage since I lost the weight, so that’s the old me.
Q. You’re really active on Facebook and Twitter, or at least your assistant is. Does it help to have an instant outlet for the thoughts in your head?
A: I do all of my social media myself, but, yeah, I can address what’s going on in the world as it happens. It’s not so much of an outlet for excess jokes for me, though. Social media is an essential tool for comedians nowadays. You have to be on there, but I enjoy it.
Q. Randomly accessing your brain for comedy can be hazardous. Have you ever gotten yourself in trouble? If so, what was the worst?
A: Not really. People know what to expect when they come to my shows. They know a lot of my comedy is racial, but there’s a warmth to the humor. If it came from a different kind of place, they’d pick up on it. There’s a difference between me or Louis C.K.—who is just a genius—and someone who is genuinely mean towards people who are different than they are.
Q. What comedy albums did you listen to most in your formative years?
A: None. … I was a smart-ass on the school bus and got kicked off for swearing, but I wasn’t into comedy. Once I became a comedian and people started bringing up Don Rickles, I got Hello Dummy! (Rickles’ 1968 album).
Q. What happens when you walk into a restaurant and see Don Rickles? Standoff?
A: I never saw him in a restaurant, but I have met him and he is very nice to me. He once took me aside to give me advice about toning down my act to gain wider appeal. I respected it, but this is who I am!
Q. How was your experience starring in Not Fade Away? (Lampanelli plays Aunt Josie in the film about a 1960s New Jersey band.)
A: Oh, it was great. (Director) David Chase is so awesome to work for, and it was really different from the movie roles I’ve had in the past. It’s a good film and I’m proud to have been part of it.
Q. If Lena Dunham asked you to create a character for (HBO series) Girls, who would you be?
A: I’d be Lisa Lampanelli! And I’d take her all over New York and show her how to really get into trouble. I love that show!