I think The New York Time’s hit the nail on the head when they called Lisa Lampanelli an “equal opportunity offender”. Lisa is most notably known for her work on the Comedy Central Roasts and her appearances on The Howard Stern show. Oh my gosh, did I just say Howard Stern!? If you’re on this site and reading this feature then I’m assuming you have at least somewhat of an open mind…good for you, give yourself a little pat.
The thing I love about Lisa Lampanelli is that she genuinely does have a good heart and at the same time, has an honest gift for helping people to stop taking themselves so goddamn seriously. Well either that or to infuriate them into a fist wagging frenzy. I hope in your case it’s not the latter, because in this day, and age, if we can’t laugh at ourselves, what the hell can we laugh at? The following interview was conducted on 11/2/10.>
The Lisa Lampanelli Interview
TIS: So first of all, congratulations are in order regarding your recent marriage to Jimmy Cannizzaro. How is the married life treating you?
LL: It’s great. There’s not really any change. Actually, that’s not entirely true. Are you, or have you ever been married?
TIS: Never married, but currently engaged.
LL: Ok, well you’ll see. There’s this weird thing that takes place, where you just feel more comfortable, it’s odd. It’s not like we’re “stuck together” but more like we’re really in it together now. It’s like I like him more now. I really liked him anyways because he’s a funny and cool guy to hang out with, but now it’s like, ok, alright, we live in the same place together, and as long as I get my two hours of alone time, I won’t murder him. It’s really kind of nice.
TIS: So I have to ask what those two hours of free time generally consist of?
LL: I watch my TV shows that even he’s not gay enough to watch. He’s a trooper though, he watches all the Housewives shows & Project Runway, but there are two shows that are just too gay for him, and those are Dancing With The Stars, and Millionaire Matchmaker. He hates Millionaire Matchmaker so much that his stomach genuinely hurts. So when he’s out, I’ll watch my really, really super gay shows and I’ll talk on the phone with my super gay friends, so basically while he’s out it’s gay, gay, gay.
TIS: Sounds super. How did you make the transition from working as a journalist for magazines like Hit Parader & Rolling Stone to becoming one of the most notorious comics of our time?
LL: Well I guess I always knew I should do it, but back then, I didn’t have a manual on how to stand on stage and say the “C” word. So I actually took some time and became a DJ so I could become more comfortable behind a microphone. Then one day, in CT actually, I saw an add in a paper which said a guy by the name of Michael Jackson (his real name) was doing a comedy class. So I went and we talked about stand up and what our first five minute set would be about etc. At the end, he did an open mic and I did really well and was so conceited, that the next day I called in sick. I was like “Guess what A-hole publishing company, I’m going to be a star”. I really did think though, after that one time, it really was meant to be, that it was going to happen. I initially thought I would be the $1,000 a week headliner at a club, which was fine. But honestly never thought I’d be on TV, or on Howard Stern etc. I think about now and it’s still pretty unbelievable.
TIS: It’s seriously awesome that you had the courage to do that.
LL: Aw, thank you.
TIS: So you’re known as the “Loveable Queen of Mean”. I’m impressed that you have “loveable” & “mean” in the same title. What’s the story behind that?
LL: Well it was completely deliberate. When I saw Rickles for the first time they called him Mr. Warmth, which I thought was the greatest, because it’s so true. You can’t do this type of comedy without being a really warm person, so you can get away with what you’re saying. I really thought that captured it, so I was talking my people and said I wanted to be the “queen of mean” because I’m an insult comic, but that loveable needs to be in there too. So they said to just put it out there, “comedies lovable queen of mean”, which implies that yeah, I say those jokes, but clearly mean no harm to anyone. The only time I mean something, or you’ll see me get angry, is when I’m heckled or somebody is being an asshole in the audience, but other than that, there’s never any bad intention behind it.
TIS: Well that actually leads quite well into my next question which reads; The New York Times has called you an “equal opportunity offender”. Do you find that you’ve drawn negative attention on yourself from a specific group (or groups) of people, and if so, do have any message for them?
LL: Well first of all, isn’t there something bigger people can get angry about other than comedy? Why not go clean up in Haiti or do something to help? But I’m really lucky to not get a lot of shit. I’ve never been protested, except for a couple of deaf people in Rochester, because I called them retards, which c’mon, with that voice you couldn’t blame me for making the comparison. I’ve always actually wanted a protest though to make me more famous and to sell more tickets, but I think that everybody knows that these are just jokes, so I really have been pretty lucky.
TIS: Wow, I honestly would have thought otherwise.
LL: I know, but I think it’s the same thing with Rickles and Stern, where people get it. They’re like, well she might not be for me, but she’s still good. I’ve always said my comedy is like anal sex, it hurts, and seems kind of rough, but after enough liquor and lube, everybody enjoys it. It’s so very true.
TIS: Ouch. You’re recording a new one hour special for Comedy Central on Dec 4th called “Glamour Puss”. Can you tell me a little about the title, and what fans can expect?
LL: Well I really like the double entendre of the word “puss”, I think it’s funny and fits well with my other titles which are never really intellectual. I’ve found short titles, like two to three words work really well. One of my friends who I tour with actually came up with that. He thought it’d be really funny to do a glamour shot on the outside and a really beaten up photo on the inside. I thought that was a really good idea, sort of representing who we are on the outside, as well as the inside.
As far as the material, it’s definitely more hardcore than the HBO special. As a comedian, it’s important to keep evolving, and after I met Jimmy (Lisa’s husband) I was like wow, I can really take any chance I want. I feel happier and more protected and that I can really say anything I want and people will pretty much know that it’s a joke. It’s definitely pretty hardcore. I had to do a lot of editing so that Comedy Central would air some of it. Certainly, after the one a.m. slot it’s going to be 100% uncensored, and then on the DVD itself, there’s going to be more hard edged stuff. So yeah, I would say I turned it up a bit from the HBO special.
TIS: I’m definitely looking forward to that. So you’re very well know for your work on the Comedy Central Roasts, and I was wondering if there’s a particular insult someone has said to you, either on a roast, or elsewhere, that stands out above the rest?
LL: My favorite joke of all-time about me is just so simple, it’s great. When Artie Lange used to do the Howard Stern roasts he said something like, “Wow, if I had a dime for every time someone came up to me and said, hey, aren’t you Lisa Lampanelli?” That joke to me is just so funny, simple and well written that it’s easily my favorite joke about me of all time. I absolutely love it.
TIS: I know we’ve only spoken briefly here, but I was wondering if you could give me a quick roast?
LL: Well I do know that when you told me you were engaged I was shocked because I didn’t know gay people could get married in CT. You have a very gay voice. When I called you before to see if we could change the time of our interview, I was looking forward to a conversation with a cornholer, but now I found out you’re a straighty. How old are you, 26?
TIS: I’m 32.
TIS: Well thank you so much, and I actually will be at your upcoming show at Foxwoods in December.
LL: Oh cool, and bring your “girlfriend”, ok?
TIS: Of course, she’ll be there too.
LL: Cool, and thank you seriously so much. I really liked your questions. They were not the normal ones, so I loved it.
TIS: Wow, well thank you. I try to do things outside of the box, not in a closet sort of way, but thanks.
LL: Hahaha, that’s really funny.
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