Comedy’s reigning “Queen of Mean,” Lisa Lampanelli, has the insult comic thing down, skewering the likes of Donald Trump, David Hasselhoff, Gene Simmons, Pamela Anderson and William Shatner on Comedy Central’s celebrity roasts. She’s also hosted her own comedy specials on that network and HBO and was nominated for a 2007 Grammy Award for Best Comedy Album of the Year.
Lampanelli, who performs Saturday at Comerica Theatre in Phoenix, is also an actress (“Drillbit Taylor,” “Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector”) and an author (“Chocolate, Please: My Adventures in Food, Fat and Freaks,” 2009). And she may soon add “Broadway star” to the list.
“I’m filming the pilot for a reality show based on my life as a new wife and the process of changing myself from insult comic to Broadway diva. ... I’m working on writing a Broadway show with Alan Zweibel, who wrote Billy Crystal’s one-man show, ‘700 Sundays’ ” she says. “It’s a really fun look at my lifelong struggle with men and food. Who can’t identify with that?!”
Lampanelli, who owns a home at Tucson’s Canyon Ranch, visits more here:
Q: You say some really mean things, but you never come off like a cold-hearted, bitter bully; you seem like a warm, likeable person we could be friends with. How do you walk that line?
A: It actually isn’t a line — it’s just being yourself, and if at heart, you’re a decent human being, the audience is gonna sense it and let you say whatever you want to them and not be offended. I always thought that audiences are like dogs — they can sense what’s really going on with a person, and if the audience senses you’re a good person and that you don’t mean what you say, they see that intention and let you get away with it.
Q: Is it harder to be funny now that you’ve had so much success?
A: I think the more successful you are, the more help you can hire to do the “business”-y stuff, and you become freed up to be more creative. I happen to also love the business part of “show business” and get lots of material from that as well. So, I find myself now having more chances to come up with material and work on things I have been putting off creatively for a while.
Q: How has your comedy evolved as you’ve become more of a household name?
A: First of all, I don’t think I’m a household name. I’m known in some households, but not all. I’m no Roseanne or Chelsea Handler. However, my comedy keeps evolving, and I keep taking more and more chances when it comes to being edgy or just being myself as I become more successful. It’s like the success and the audience are egging me on to keep giving them more and more. So really, I blame them.
Q: Where did your sense of humor come from?
A: My mother is a fantastic storyteller, and my father is a fine artist, so I think it was a little bit of a combination of both things that turned me into the abomination that I am. Thank God I have parents like that who still entertain me and seem to get me. They better get me, or when they go into the nursing home, I’m not getting them a private room.
Q: What are some topics you’ll have Phoenix fans laughing over?
A: Of course, I’ll be doing my trademark “insult comedy,” roast-style stuff, but I also talk a lot about my marriage to my new Italian husband, Jimmy Big Balls — Don’t ask! — and the day-to-day stuff that pisses me off in general. There’s so many annoying things in life that happen to all of us that I never run out of material. I’ll also be talking a lot about the roasts I do on Comedy Central, so audiences can look forward to that.
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