Lisa Lampanelli talks roasting, testicles (not together though)
If you had the opportunity to catch Comedy Central's "Roast of David Hasselhoff" earlier this month, you know that no comedian hits harder than Lisa Lampanelli. In the course of one evening, she managed to lampoon everything from the Holocaust, Haiti, the oil spill in the Gulf and the Hoff's liver. And on an evening where comedians and celebrities alike reached down deep to find their most brutal punchlines, it was Lampanelli who managed to bring the crowd to silence and groans with a masterful joke about film critic Roger Ebert's cancer (I'm not even going to bother trying to paraphrase. Click here to view the very NSFW video of Lisa's set).
She's been nominated for a Grammy for Best Comedy Album, written a revealing autobiography about her personal and professional ups and downs, and earned the title of "Comedy's Lovable Queen of Mean." Before she stops by the State Theatre on Sept. 25, we chatted with Lisa about roasting, hecklers and her fiancé's testicles.
(BONUS: Win a pair of tixx to see Lisa in MPLS by following @cpdressingroom on Twitter today; giveaway at 2 p.m.)
Dressing Room: First off, congratulations on the David Hasselhoff roast. Personally, I thought your Roger Ebert joke stole the show. How did you feel this one compared with past roasts?
Lisa Lampanelli: Thank you. You know, every roast I need to have that moment where I make the audience pause awkwardly for like three seconds because they're uncomfortable. If I can't do that, then I need to retire. As for the roast itself, let me just say that I make no extra money off those Jews at Comedy Central for saying it was good, but I really thought that this one was at least in the top two - if not the best - we've ever had. I really mean that.
What do you think made it so good?
LL: The writing this time was just really, really good. Everybody took it to the next level. I mean, the comics like Whitney (Cummings), (Greg) Giraldo, Jeff Ross, they really brought it. And even the celebrities were great. You know how Comedy Central writes the jokes for the celebs, and I just thought they were some of the best ever. Plus, Hasselhoff was just such a perfect person to roast, because he ties together the generations so well.
When it comes to the Comedy Central Roasts, it seems like the past few years the subjects have been kind of easy targets. When you get guys like Hasselhoff or Flavor Flav or Pam Anderson, do you ever feel like it's too easy to roast them?
LL: Actually, those are the people who I think are tougher to make fun of. With Twitter out there these days, people make jokes about celebrities all the time. That means it's my job to be more creative and come at somebody from new angles that no one else has thought of. I mean, you get someone like Pam Anderson and what am I going to do? Make jokes about big tits and a stretched out vag? That's too easy. Now try thinking of a joke about her that isn't about those things. It's a lot harder, isn't it?
Good point. So have you ever had a moment where you felt like you went too far or stepped over the line?
LL: To me, a roast is all about stepping over the line. But when you're roasting someone you do it because you really like those people, and for the most part the more over the line you go the more they appreciate it. I'm not so concerned offending someone so much as I am about a joke being funny. If it's over the line but it's funny, I'm gonna say it. If it's not funny, I won't. For example, I knew that Pam was kind of sensitive about her vag, but I knew it would go over well with the audience so I went there. Trust me, I know that I can make jokes that make me look like a bigger cunt than any of those, Real Housewives of New Jersey, but if the audience isn't going to be into it, I'm not going to tell it.
Has there ever been anyone you wish you would have gone after harder than you did?
LL: Not really. The people who I've wished I had better jokes about are usually the people who have least amount to make fun of. Look at (Hasselhoff roastmaster and Family Guy creator) Seth MacFarlane. What am I going to say about that guy? He's good looking, successful and a genius. Yeah, there's a lot to go off of there.
In your autobiography, "Chocolate, Please: My Adventures in Food, Fat and Freaks," you talk about how you got your start in roasting from dealing with hecklers during your stand-up sets. Now that people know you as the "Queen of Mean," do you still deal with hecklers at your shows?
LL: It doesn't really happen too much anymore. Occasionally I'll make a joke that sets some guy off about something stupid, but for the most part people keep their mouths shut. The biggest problem I have these days is when I'll be telling a joke and right before the punch line someone yells out, "I love you, Lisa!" It totally throws off the joke, but you can't yell "Fuck you!" at someone who just said that they love you. Unless you're dating that person, of course.
Speaking of which, how is your love life these days?
LL: I'm actually getting married this October! My printed cocktail napkins just showed up today as a matter of fact. That's a side of me I don't think too many people expect to see.
That's great news. So now that you're engaged, are you going to become one of those female comics who talks about all the funny things her husband does and being newlywed and all that?
LL: God no. We hate that bitch, don't we? She's such a cunt. No, I don't really do anything about my fiancé. Except his nutsack. I do talk about Jimmy's nutsack during my set. It's huge! It's like the second biggest nutsack in the world behind that mutant guy in Africa, so I have to talk about it.
Speaking of your set, do you have new material for your show in Minneapolis?
LL: Yeah, absolutely. I've got a new special coming out in December, so everything I'm doing between now and then is kind of a preview of the new stuff you'll see on that show. I think this show is going to be edgier than my past stuff. I've kind of lost my barometer in terms of what's too edgy, and I've got some pretty hardcore stuff. I don't think I've ever told any of these jokes in Minneapolis before, so it'll be a totally new show.
Last thing, before you go I want to do a little name-association with you based on some of the more prominent people in the news these days. I'll say a name, and I want to hear the first thing that comes to your mind.
LL: Bring it on.
LL: Oh my God. That chick looks like she's glazed, doesn't she? She's like a glazed donut with Jiffy Pop on her head. Maybe that's why the cops were attracted to her in the first place.
LL: His career is done, man. His career is done and everything that guy has is going to the Russian whore. He insulted the Jews so he can't work in Hollywood. He insulted the blacks so he can't even get on BET. No, I think he's done.
LL: Oh, poor Lawrence. If only he had married a white chick none of this would have happened. Hopefully Montana's porno is a lesson for black guys everywhere - just sleep with white women and you'll be OK.
IF YOU GO:
Sept. 25, 7:30 PM
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