Is the so-called “Queen of Mean,” comedian Lisa Lampanelli, mellowing with age?
I vividly recall my first profanity-laced telephone interview a few years ago with the foul-mouthed funny lady. I honestly wasn’t looking forward to this conversation, but as an arts and entertainment journalist, taking on the tough assignments goes right along with the puff pieces on Broadway and television stars.
“I’m going to pull an end table out of my ass and then call everybody a cunt, so it’s a well-rounded show,” Lampanelli said of the act she’s planning to present at the Hard Rock Live in Hollywood this weekend.
The “Celebrity Apprentice” vet will also undoubtedly throw in a few jokes about Donald Trump. She’s roasted him twice and, in that setting, perhaps her expletive-laced language might not be so offensive, given the chaos and blunders of the president’s first week in office.
“My jokes are always ‘effen’ funny,” she promised.
Lampanelli noted that she’s observed changes in her audience over the past 20 years, especially among her LGBT fans.
“I’m very grateful,” she explained. “The lesbians used to not get me. There used to be this lesbian attitude going on there, but I’ve noticed people aren’t taking themselves so seriously. It takes time for the lesbians to catch up with the gay men on anything, especially hair and makeup, but they’re jumping on the Lisa Lampanelli boat.”
Then Lampanelli admitted she was in the car eating a protein bar. She popped a joke: “I don’t eat candy except holidays: Arbor Day, Kwanzaa, Canadian Thanksgiving…”
That’s when the tone of the conversation changed. Lampanelli had always struggled with her weight until undergoing weight loss surgery.
“I’m so proud that I’m working on my health every day, I’m telling the world,” Lampanelli said, inviting the audience to ask her about it at the end of the show.
But the emotional scars still remain.
“There was a very hot guy who asked me to go out with him, but since I’m a former fat girl and he was too good-looking, I just blushed and told him no. I’d always dated beneath me. it’s not like it was weird, but (the experience) made me learn something about myself, I cheated him out of a wonderful non-sexual experience,” she told me.
A newly self-confident Lampanelli doesn’t need to hide behind so many mean-spirited barbs.
“It wasn’t a conscious thing that feels fun. But then you notice yourself opening up and being more truthful,” she said. “Because I lost the weight, I have more confidence to deflect the people that don’t like me. It sort of added up to this good conclusion.”
Lampanelli is currently working on a new series of plays focusing on food and weight that she will perform again this year in New York City. Another will deal with love and relationships, while a third play deals with anger and grief, sparked by her experience when her father died.
As far as her comedy is concerned, Lampanelli said she is satisfied with her accomplishments, but she has set other goals.
“As a person, you can’t stay in the same place forever, I want to be in service to people,” she said. “I want to touch people and let them know they’re not alone.”
But as a chink in her armor appears, she quickly snaps back and instructs me to share this warning with her audience:
“Tell the lesbians to stop hitting on me. I’m not getting on the tuna boat, at least not yet,” Lampanelli declared.
Make that the “lovable” Queen of Mean.
Lisa Lampanelli appears at the Hard Rock Live at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood on Saturday, Feb. 4 at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $40 at MyHRL.com.