Dubbed as the “Queen of Mean,” stand-up comic Lisa Lampanelli has built a lucrative career out of insulting people. Even a quick Google search reveals that Lampanelli’s professional website is under the address: www.insultcomic.com. With vulgar precision, the provocative, pointed comedian spares no victims. For her, everyone from David Hasselhoff to Flavor Flav, is fair game. Odds are she’ll continue bringing down the house when she performs June 13th at the Venetian in Las Vegas as part of the LIPSHTICK series, which exclusively highlights the talents of female comedians, from Roseanne Barr to Garfunkel & Oates.
Before waxing funny on our Lucky 7, Lampanelli confessed her favorite person to roast, why she chose insult comedy, and more.
What about the form of insult comedy speaks to you as a performer?
Since the third time I went onstage 25 years ago, I loved talking to the audience. But I noticed that I didn’t really love having them talk back. So I evolved into doing the only form of comedy where you talk to the audience but you don’t want a response: Insult Comedy. I wanted to be able to say what I wanted, when I wanted to, and that seemed to be the perfect type of comedy for me. Plus, I grew up watching the Dean Martin Roasts on TV with my parents in the late ‘70s and that is what I thought comedy was — a bunch of friends sitting around busting each other’s balls, which is what I have turned my career into.
Is this what you always wanted to do?
I think deep down, I knew I was funny since I was eight years old and got my first laugh. However, I didn’t have the nerve to try stand-up until I hit 30 years old and said, “I can’t put this off any longer.” I figured I’d try it once and, if I was hopeless, at least I’d have tried. Thankfully, things have worked out and I’ve been able to have a great career for almost a half-century. By the way, you’re welcome, World!
How has your career changed since you entered the field?
I think every comedian evolves at his or her own pace. I went from being a storytelling comedian, to being a full-blown insult comic, and now to someone who is blending storytelling with insult comedy. Who knows where I’ll end up? All I know is that the people are still laughing as much as ever, I still love what I do as much as — or more than — when I started, and I have made a really great living for a long time. Not to sound too New Age-y, but I’m really blessed.
In all your years on tour, what is the strangest experience you’ve had?
About seven years into performing as a comedian, I was booked for a 45-minute set at the Mt. Airy Lodge in the Poconos. The room was packed but, unfortunately, it wasn’t exactly my type of audience. Half the room was senior citizens over 80, and the other half was special needs people! I am not kidding! Legitimate special needs folks. Although I was scared they wouldn’t get me, it was a fun set and I learned a lot. They clapped, they laughed, they stamped their feet, they sang along — which was great, even though there was no music involved whatsoever!
What is the most enjoyable and funny roast you’ve performed on?
I have to say that it’s impossible to choose between David Hasselhoff, Gene Simmons, Flavor Flav and Donald Trump. All four of these men are such a wealth of material that it’s hard to pick a favorite. I do have a special place in my heart for Donald Trump. He had an amazing sense of humor which, if you know him, is not surprising, but was really shocking for me at the time. Plus, he had the guts to put me on the Celebrity Apprentice after I roasted him. That, to me, is a gentleman!
What was your first exposure to Playboy?
I honestly never read Playboy until I started doing comedy and was asked to do some spots on Playboy radio on Sirius XM. I know! Pretty virginal, huh? I am not what I seem — I’m pretty naive when it comes to sex. Truth be told, when it comes to sex, I’m more of a “Charlotte” than a “Samantha” if we’re talking in Sex and the City terms. Surprised?
What was the first movie that scared you as a kid?
Actually, the first thing I ever watched that scared the crap outta me was this soap opera called Dark Shadows. It wasn’t a movie, but it was on every single day after school and I couldn’t wait to come home, watch it, and then regret watching it later that night when the house was dark and I couldn’t get to sleep because of it. Pretty soon my mother banned me from watching it because I was such a little bitch about it.
What was the first song you knew all the words to?
”Revolution" by the Beatles.
If you were on death row, what would your last meal be?
Well, three years ago, I got weight-loss surgery where they cut 85 percent of my stomach out so I can’t eat like I have 10 rectums anymore! I can only eat about a cup and a half of food a day! So I’m not sure what my last meal would be, but it would be really freakin’ tiny. It’s a shame, but at least I’ll look good in the electric chair.
What is your pop culture blind spot?
I still haven’t watched “Breaking Bad.” I am a truly bad TV watcher. Hopefully, I’ll get mono or something so I’ll be confined to my home and be forced to watch it beginning to end.
What was your first car?
I inherited an olive-green Plymouth Duster from my grandfather which I drove all through high school. But the car that was first officially mine was a light blue, sparkly Chevy Chevelle with a red racing stripe (which my dad negotiated into the deal for free!). Still my favorite car ever!
What was your favorite, or biggest, mistake?
There are no mistakes but, if there were, I’ve made so many, I’d never be able to pick a favorite!