Friday, September 14, 2012

EXCLUSIVE: My Interview with Lisa Lampanelli

Written by Chris Jarvis

Lisa Lampanelli has had a meteoric rise in the ranks of comedy over the last decade, making a splash on several Comedy Central Roasts. She's referred to as the "Queen of Mean", a title she embraces,  because of her talent for skewering every conceivable stereotype. You might think it's uncomfortable to sit in her audience for fear of being a target, but in fact it's those that don't end up being a target that feel slighted. 

When I saw she was coming to Fresno I knew I had  to talk to her. I admire honesty in comedy, and Lisa finds a way to lambaste not the differences of people, but the ludicrous belief that stereotypes define us. Even as she parades  the labels that are attached to us, in doing so she reveals their lack of power. We are not defined by other's perceptions, but by ourselves, and the perpetuation of those stereotypes needs to be put into perspective in order for us to rise above them. 

In other words, if you think her act is too caustic, even mean, do yourself a life alert favor, and lighten up.

Lisa will be appearing in Fresno at the William Saroyan Theater 700 M Street, Fresno, CA 93721 on Friday, September 28th @8PM. To purchase your tickets CLICK ON THIS LINK

Chris Jarvis: So tell me what a comedian is doing up at this ungodly hour?

Lisa Lampanelli: Talking to my favorite homo.

CJ: Listen, I saw that your website is and we're all aware that you go after all kinds of stereotypes. How did you come to the decision that was going to be the body of your act?

LL: I think when you do comedy it pushes your limits more and more every day. It was fun, the people were responding, no one was getting mad, and if they did it was usually white people who had nothing to get mad about. So I said, let's make it work.

CJ: I see that you've said in the past that you're more of a male comic than a female comic, and that Don Rickles was one of the icons you looked up to. What is it about him that you latched onto?

LL: Every time people left the show they knew he was just joking around, and knew that he had a good heart and that he was joking about everyone equally. I really think that's important. And he has a certain warmth that you just can't deny. And I always knew I had that kind of warmth, and that's why I totally admire that sensibility.

CJ: So how does it work with the front seats at your concerts? Do people try not to sit in those seats knowing you'll have them in your sites?

LL: No, in fact people pay extra to sit up front. There's something about feeling included that makes people feel really happy. The only complaint I ever get after the show, no lie, is why didn't you make fun of me?

CJ: So what do you think about the current politically correct culture in America where it seems to be dangerous to make a joke about so many things? Does the current, overwhelming sensitivity affect your act at all?

LL: Oh, no. I'm self employed, so I can't get fired. So I do what I do and if the theater doesn't like me they don't have to have me back. But so far I haven't had anyone say that. So I'm very lucky. Plus to be on the Tonight Show and Howard Stern and Kimmel, I realize that people really get it. I feel, honestly, like, how did this happen?

CJ: Do you think we're all just getting to be too sensitive?

LL: Oh yeah, of course. I'm so happy it doesn't affect me,  but for some comics it is difficult to have to walk such a fine line.

CJ: So you don't have to modify your act in certain parts of the country where people may be more sensitive?

LL: Oh no, in places where they're more conservative, I just give it to them harder because they're the ones that need to hear it harder.

CJ: Let's talk about what you do for charity. through your stint on Celebrity Apprentice you were able to donate $130,000 to Gay Men's Health Crisis. And then I see that due to a recent protest at one of your concerts by the Westboro Baptist Church, you made a further commitment of $50,000 to the same group. 

LL: Yes, those retard, inbreds protested me and I figured, you know what, I'm going to make them sorry they protested me, so I said I'd give $1,000 for every one that showed up to protest and there were 44 that showed up and I just rounded it up to $50,000. So all their hate didn't do them a bit of good that day.

CJ: Did they have the same, standard signs when they were protesting you?
LL: Yes, but they were also oddly specific. Like they hate lesbian nuns, they hate Obama, they were just weirdly specific and odd. I honestly never came across people this simple. But you know what, there's probably way more out there than we know about.

CJ: You clearly have a following with the LGBT Community. As you travel around, are they always there to greet you?

LL: Yeah, you know, even in towns where I go, there's not going to be any gays here, the Clay Aikens are all coming out.  Even in the hayseed towns like Topeka, Kansas and Worcester, Massachusetts, they're out in full force.  

CJ: Are they a little more sensitive in certain parts of the country? They don't like to be called out?

LL: Oh no. Honestly, I've never had a gay guy look shocked, surprised or upset. When I used to not have gays in the audience and I used to make fun of a couple of straight guys and suggest they were gay, they get a little sensitive sometimes. Seriously, gay guys, maybe I've just been blessed with my fans, but they're so proud of who they are.

CJ: So what's your take on the battle for LGBT equality in America?

LL: I think it's really sad that people don't think that everyone is equal, I don't get it. That there's any opposition to gay marriage really pisses me off. 

CJ: What about what's going on with the Republicans and women's rights right now?

LL: Oh, you know what? These whores gotta stop complaining. 

CJ: (Laughter) Did you just say these whores have got to stop complaining?

LL: These whores gotta shut up and get back in the kitchen where they belong!

CJ: Did you watch the conventions?

LL: No, I was on vacation for six weeks and didn't put on the TV except for, like the good fag hag that I am, Project Runway.

CJ: So you don't do the Real Housewives?

LL: You know what, I had a ban on any show that gets me riled up. 

CJ: So nothing about Honey Boo Boo?

LL: Oh my god, my husband showed me a picture of her, and I said, I don't think we'll be watching that. 

CJ: Can we talk about Celebrity Apprentice?

LL: Sure. 

CJ: You broke down a couple of times on the show. How hard was it?

LL: The show was the hardest thing I've ever done.  It's taken me ten months to recover from how tired we were doing it. You work up to 20 hours a day, up to six days a week, you have one day off and you deal with these real pain in the ass personalities. It was traumatic as fuck. 

CJ: How about if I throw out some names from the show and you give me some quick thoughts?

LL: Absolutely.

CJ: Victoria Gotti.

LL: Oh my God. Wants people to be scared of her but has no fucking power. 

CJ: Lou Ferrigno?

LL: Retarded. I don't even think he's really deaf, his ears are just stupider than the rest of him.

CJ: Paul Teutel?

LL: Oh, I like Paul. He would always be grumpy and I'd be, finally, there's a grumpier cunt on this show than I am. 

CJ: George Takei?

LL: One of my two favorite girls on the show. My favorite girls were George and Clay, and I swear to you, George is probably one of the biggest gentlemen I've ever met in my life. In all seriousness, I adore him.

CJ: Arsenio Hall?

LL: Arsenio is good, and he won. I'm shocked he won because really, I thought it was the year of the queer, but maybe next year. 

CJ: Aubrey O'Day?

LL: You know how I feel about her, I love her. 

CJ: Debbie Gibson?

LL: Stop singing, honey, it's over. 

CJ: Teresa Giudice?

LL: Everybody always shits on Teresa because of the Housewives this year, but she was the hardest working woman on the show, hands down. She never said no, and she was juggling 4 kids. There's something about being married to an Italian that makes you work harder. 

CJ: Adam Corolla?

LL: Funniest man on the planet. 

CJ: Dayana Mendoza?

LL: Dayana? She's up there with Lou when it comes to the retard deal.

CJ: How about Patricia Velasquez?

LL: Patricia? Oh, my charity, my charity. Shut the fuck up and get a career, bitch. 

CJ: And what about the Donald?

LL: Love him. I'm sorry, I know the gays don't. But he treated me fantastically. I may not agree with everything he says, but I was never mistreated by him, he was a real gentleman. 

CJ: You mentioned you're not watching a lot of TV lately, but I see you're Tweeting about Tom Cotter on America's Got Talent. What's your take on him?

LL: I am so happy with Tom. Tom's a friend and we've been doing comedy for 20 years. He's been trying all these years, with a clever personality and clever material. This may be his shot and I'm so thrilled with for him. I think it's going to come down to him and the guy with the harp. Whoever wins, they're great, but I love Tom.

CJ: Yeah, he's really a pro, isn't he?

LL: Oh, the best. And I've never watched the show until this year. 

(On Thursday night, Sept 13th, Tom Cotter ended up second in the competition, with the harp player third. The dog act won? Really??)

CJ: Lisa, I posted a request on Facebook last night for questions from the Fresno community and I have three of them for you. The first is "On Celebrity Apprentice, was Dayana Mendoza as stupid as she appeared to be?"

LL: Stupider. That's what I objected to about The Apprentice. They really made a couple of people appear better than they were.  Dayana they made look a bit smarter and they made Aubrey look too mean, which she wasn't. That's how they edit, I get it. 

CJ: The next one...If you could "de-gay" one gay guy for one day and screw his brains out, who would it be?

LL: Tom Cruise.

CJ: And the last question..."What does Snoop Dogg look like naked?"

LL: Oh, I wish I knew. Unfortunately by the time I met him I was involved with my husband so I didn't get to see that but I'm sure it's one good, big joint.

CJ: So what's coming up for you? I heard you're working on a one woman show for Broadway.

LL: Yeah, I'm on the way to rehearsal right now. We're hopefully going to be doing it next year. We've been working on it for two years, we've been doing workshops on it. We're all really excited because it will show a different side. As you know, I started showing my emotions on Apprentice, so we'll show there's more to a comic than you think. 

CJ: And the weight loss? How's it going?

LL: It's awesome. I've lost 80 pounds and my husband lost 63, but he did take a big dump this morning so it might be up to 65. 

Special thanks to the following Facebook personalities for the extra questions...

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