Insult comedian Lisa Lampanelli's belted swing dresses say "1950s homemaker," but her mouth fires flagrant pock shots with indiscriminate aim.
After being the only female comedian invited to New York's Friar's Club Roast for Chevy Chase, The New York Times dubbed her "The Lovable Queen of Mean." Now her knack for slinging custom-fitted insults through a flurry of what Bill Cosby might consider "filth-flarn-filth" gets her the last words at every Comedy Central roast. With those words, Lampanelli busts down like a crooked cop with a new nightstick.
"It's nice to see the Flavor of Love girls here," she announces at Comedy Central's Roast for Flavor Flav. Her acknowledgment drums up quite a bit of applause.
"Aren't they beautiful? I love them." More applause.
Former FOL housemates "Deelishis" and Shay beam and nod at a nearby camera like nominees for an award.
"They look like the 3 a.m. shift at the Jacksonville Waffle House!" Lampanelli says as a finish. Smug mugs disappear, and the FOL ladies' cracked faces look like she hit them between the eyes.
The highly rated Comedy Central Roast for Pamela Anderson also catches Lampanelli in her zone.
Listening to the other guests of honor, she studies each carefully and scribbles a couple of last minute stingers that could possibly go down in penis-joke history. Who knew she'd call Andy Dick a "pickle kisser" and say Courtney Love "will suck a dick for a Diet Coke?"
She's just as unpredictable in conversation. Late one morning, Lampanelli phones from Arizona after I see some article about "cruelty-free shoes" that had to out-do pleather and be vegan. I mention them because I know I can't be the only one to find these non-dairy mules particularly disturbing.
"Awww, my God!" Lampanelli groans before I finish describing. "How fuckin' dykey is that? Remember earth shoes? Didn't ya just wanna throw rocks at people that wore those? I'll stick to my Jimmy Choo's, thank you. Not having somebody throw rocks at me is my idea of cruelty-free!"
Lampanelli, who took graduate classes at Harvard and was once a journalist, says that by 30 she got tired of earning $12,000 a year and tried stand-up one night on a whim.
"It was so obvious it was so meant to be," she says. "I called in sick to my job the next day and been doing this ever since."
Her switch from journalism to comedy sounds so fluent that I wonder if she studied as a "Groundling," or any other improvisational route to timing and stage presence.
"No, I hate improv," she says immediately. "You have to share the stage with 14 other losers, and with improv, you're not supposed to go for the laughs. Shoot, it's LL, Lisa 'Muthafuckin' Lampanelli, not Lisa and friends! I want all the laughs!"
As the only prominent female comedian who insults everybody, not just celebrities, she's an equal opportunity epithet slinger who takes stereotypes and runs with them.
Based on Lampanelli's DVDs Take It Like a Man and Dirty Girl, audiences know black men are among of her favorite topics because "they are the only ones that will sleep with a big white woman." For Lampanelli, the dark side of that scenario has to do with black men having "other white bitches" and a pre-paid phone.
"I always think it's funny when I perform stuff like that in front of white audiences and they're all looking at each other like, 'Damn, she's saying what we say in our living rooms!' " she says.
After appearing on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno as a regular, Howard Stern's Sirius satellite radio show and BET's Comic View, Lampanelli enjoys her crossover appeal.
"I get a lot of interracial couples and a nice mix of people, but not enough homos," she says. "I want to see more. I hope some read this and say, 'Hey, let's go to the show and cornhole Lisa!' "
Happy with the career path she ended up with, Lampanelli sounds like she will never feel the need to call in sick again.
"Are you kidding? I love getting paid to be a cunt," she says.
Two of her forthcoming projects venture outside of stand-up. A Comedy Central cartoon ala South Park called Run, Lisa, Run awaits, and a drama -- or, as Lampanelli puts it, an "Entourage-type show" -- will air after the Hollywood writers' strike ends.
"I can't wait 'til I can say who (the director) is 'cause he's so fuckin' huge, but it's for Showtime," Lampanelli says.
But she does talk about her plans for the evening, a first date with an American Indian guy.
"Maybe I'll come home with a tomahawk coming out of my twat!" she says. "Who knows how this date's going to go? Maybe something funny will happen that will make a good story, and I can share it when I come there."
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