Comedy’s Lovable Queen of Mean graces Minneapolis

A&E catches up with comedienne Lisa Lampanelli

Tony Libera

WHAT:  Lisa Lampanelli

WHERE: State Theatre, 805 Hennepin Ave.

WHEN: Sept. 25, 7:30 p.m.

TICKETS: $42.75


Lisa Lampanelli’s rise to fame has undeniably been risqué, and fans of Comedy’s Queen of Mean love her for it.

Lampanelli says things that are so sexist, so homophobic, so racist that they mortify the left and the right, the gay and the straight, the black and the white and every shade in between. Yet Lampanelli makes those same people laugh with her indiscriminate offensiveness and her Harvard-educated mind, showing audiences that there’s plenty of wit nestled beneath her vulgarity.

A&E spoke with Lampanelli about her particular brand of comedy, the Comedy Central roasts and female comedians today.

Were you doing the insult comic routine from the beginning?

LL: No, no. I always say to people that if you get out of law school, you don’t try a case for murder the next day. You kind of start where you start, and pay attention to what really works for you, and what people respond to and most importantly what you have fun with. And then you kind of go in that direction.

You once said you’d love to roast Tom Cruise. Who would you like to roast these days?

LL: Well, I realized when I said that, you’re only supposed to roast people you like. So, I can’t roast him. When you roast somebody you don’t respect, it really comes off. People can really tell you mean the jokes, and then the roasts generally bomb.

I would like to roast who my favorite people are. I’d love to get my hands on [Don] Rickles, because you know he can give it, and [Howard] Stern would be great too. I doubt that either one of them would ever allow it, but hey, I can dream.

Comedy is considered something of a boys club. Do you think that’s changing?

LL: Well, I hope not, because it’s really good to be one of the three funny women who everybody knows. I don’t think it’s a boys club by accident, because men know how to write much more concise material and do kind of a one-two punch, where women tell more stories, which is why I always consider myself kind of a guy comic and why I have straight male fans. It’s much easier to stand out as a woman if you’re actually funny.

So, you don’t think that it comes down to negative perceptions, but that most women just aren’t funny?

LL: Put it this way, I always say there are three female comics I’d pay to go see: Sarah Silverman, Kathy Griffin and myself, and I’m so much funnier than those two, I’d pay extra.

You seem like a very nice person. Where do you pull all the mean-spirited stuff from?

LL: Just daily life. In my family I was always allowed to be the person that made fun and joked around at home and wouldn’t get in trouble for it. I always thought ‘Oh, can I get away with this, can I get away with that and have people know I really don’t mean it?’ I think you really can’t mean anything you say in order to do this for a living, because again, audiences are smart, they sense when somebody really dislikes a group of people and they just won’t go with you.

Is there anything that’s taboo for you, or is it all fair game?

LL: It’s all fair game if I can make it funny. If a comic can make a subject matter funny — whether it’s rape, AIDS or whatever — that’s our job, to sort of lighten up a terrible situation.

Can I get your feelings on some quasi-current events?

LL: The news gets me in a bad mood, so I pretty much watch Bravo TV, but I will do my best to pretend to know what you’re talking about.

“Jersey Shore.”

LL: Oh my God, Snooki, she is so short and orange she looks like a little traffic cone, doesn’t she? She’s hysterical.

I don’t watch them, because I object. I’m driving through Jersey right now with my nose plugs, because I can’t stand the stench of people from New Jersey. So, basically the less of them, the better.

How about Prop 19, marijuana legalization in California?

LL: Oh, I thought prop 19 was [expletive] marriage! That’s 8. Speaking of gay marriage, I feel they should allow gay marriage, but outlaw gay divorces. See how they like it then. You’re stuck together, homos! And not in the good sense.

But this marijuana legalization, I say go for it. Why not? Because what does it lead to? It doesn’t lead to harder drugs, it leads to eating, and eating is good.

Brett Favre.

LL: Retire, you old hag! Is he gonna cry again? Remember when he cried, wasn’t that funny?

Yes, but back then he was a Packer, so it was funny. Now he’s a Viking, so I’d be sad.

LL: Oh, man. You’re a [expletive], too.