The word "metamorphosis" does not even do Lisa Lampanelli justice. From notorious roaster to playwright, Lampanelli is slowly moving to a more centered direction with her play "Stuffed" focusing on four women with varied eating issues, but still keeping her signature razor sharp wit on stage during her stand up. Lampanelli sat down to chat with me about her new play "Stuffed", her absolute adoration for Howard Stern, and how she is learning to not compare herself to anyone else at all.
You have gone through a complete transformation, both personally and professionally. You appeared recently on "The Wendy Williams Show" and looked absolutely stunning!
Yes, thank you! My boobs will never match hers though, I'll tell you that! (laughs). Basically, I think some of the weight helped take some of the walls down in reality, so basically I got a little more confident. I'm definitely not super confident, but I am confident that I don't have to hide behind those layers of fat and that I can actually open up to people a little more. I just think the walls come down as you do things better for yourself. Plus, adopting a dog and getting a little bit more joy in my life has kind of helped me be, just a better person and not be so angry and defensive.
In addition to your weight loss, you also went through a divorce recently correct?
Yeah I did; The divorce happened right after we both had the weight loss surgery. We both just didn't have that much in common anymore. I was on The Howard Stern Show this morning and I was talking about it and it was kind of like, we didn't have that much to do together anymore and we were just like friends". So it was just time to move on, you know?
Can you believe that Howard Stern has become such a lightning rod during this election cycle? As a longtime friend and guest, it must be surreal to see it happening.
I love it; It just goes to show how important he has become, it's so awesome. It used to be that in media, Johnny Carson used to be the most important person when he would invite you over to sit on the couch after your comedy skit. Now it's whatever Howard Stern says goes. There is no one that has ever made me feel more good about myself or when I feel accepted or funny; when Howard laughs at a joke, you know you've earned it. It's easy to make some people laugh; with that guy it happens if you are really on point. I always felt that if you have made it on Stern, you have made it. Today was the first day I had been on in a few years, and I felt that I had really been missing it, it was great.
In the political climate today, comedy is such a welcome reprieve. Do you think that as a female comic you have any kind of responsibility?
I don't. I think it's your choice really. It's important to have the choice, it's important if that happens to be your thing. I have just as much respect for somebody if they get up there and they happen to be a frivolous and funny girl or guy. So if, say a Carrot Top or a ventriloquist does not use the stage to share their views, that's fine; thank God we can do it if we want to, and not do it if we don't. I personally feel that my views come out most when I'm talking about my play, food, weight issues, and things like that. Other than that, I don't find myself wanting to preach too much. Especially with comedy, they're paying for comedy, not for prose.
Amy Schumer recently had people walk out on her in Tampa, Florida over comments she made about Donald Trump. That is somewhat indicative of what you are saying.
You know, I would rather have someone walk out on the show than have someone in there who is not enjoying themselves. if I can have just one thousand people a night have a good time, I'm fine. Even if, for example, in Montclair, N.J (Lisa will be at The Wellmont Theatre in Montclair N.J. on November 5th) I can make Trump jokes and Hillary Clinton jokes equally and have people not get pissed off because I really don't care that much either way. I think you just say whatever you want and people know that I'm joking and know that the really important things to me aren't these things. Hey, if you gotta take it on the chin for your views, God bless, I'm proud!
Without getting too political, were you shocked at what came out in those Trump/Billy Bush tapes? You had an up close view of Trump as a contestant on "Celebrity Apprentice".
Um, not really. I don't think all men talk like that My brother, my father, I always say, they're gentlemen. I just don't imagine that men talk that way all the time. I don't know though, there's something about powerful rich white guys..and it's not just Trump. That's my own prejudice, which I should't have, I hate all rich white powerful men; maybe that's why I keep marrying guys that don't have anything! (laughs)
What are you loving right now? What's making Lisa Lampanelli laugh, or really feel inspired?
I really love talking about the things I talked about on Stern today; crazy politics, but definitely in a lighter way. People's appearance and people's craziness versus some deep issue. Really, my transformation as a person is funny, going from a two hundred and forty-eight pound battle axe to someone that actually resembles a human is really fun to talk about on stage and to talk about that journey. I still slip up all the time; I always like to say "I'm still workin' on my self". Every week though, there is a new story about how I snapped on somebody and almost murdered people. I think I really want to show, especially through the play "Stuffed",that we're really still working on ourselves. Everybody is a dented can; everybody. We're just trying to not be the person that gave everybody botulism.
I like to always quote Elaine Stritch and say "everybody's got their bag of rocks". Statements like that are incredibly profound and incredibly true.
Isn't it though? I wish I could say I didn't, but man, it is true
Now that you're a single woman, are you finding dating as a newly slim woman more difficult?
Oh no, I still don't have any interest. It's weird, when I got out of my marriage, I realized that I had been dating from the time I was twelve years old until I was fifty-two years old, at that time. I just did not ever feel like I had gotten too much out of it, and when the sexual component comes out of it, meaning when you are going through menopause and not really into it with anyone, I thought "my life is so good now, why do I want to mess it up"? I'm not totally closed off, but I think that anything right now would just seem like it would throw everything off kilter. You never know though I never say never. I think if somebody fits in, that would be great. I just think that between the family, the friends, the dog and the work, I'm okay.
I think your play "Stuffed" is such a unique and phenomenal piece of work. Tell me about it.
Yeah, I got lucky that producer, director and actor-wise, they really got what I was trying to do. It was to show four women who are still working on themselves, four different types of eating problems. Today when I was on Stern, Howard asked if a guy would like it, and I mentioned that the day before, 90% of that audience was dudes and not all gay. What's going on?! I think men hear my name and want to see something funny and then get sucked into the emotional part of it. I just love that I can't even stereotype people. I can't say that "men won't dig this". You never will know when a guy or a girl is going to be more open than you thought they'd be. I'm just thrilled that I get to do what I want every day. It's so amazing to have that kind of life where I can't even complain; what happened?!
I have spoken with many comediennes, like Joan Rivers and Wanda Sykes, and you are one of the top funny ladies that so many gay men absolutely gravitate to you. What is it about the community that you think makes you absolutely adored by us?
I just think that I always felt like an outsider. I don't know why, I just didn't fit in with any group and i think a lot of gay people grow up feeling really different and not fitting in; I think that draws us together. You're just a bunch of freaks who really feel after a while "you know, we're not really freaks because we're all the same". I think it's people who didn't feel cool and people with a sense of humor. Let's be honest. some gay men, you could joke with them mercilessly and they'll stand up and cheer. I think it's people that don't take themselves too seriously because life is too short.
With your play and everything you have going on, what else is there that you want to do?
Eventually the play is going to end unless we end up extending which is obviously a great thing because you want to extend a little bit. I'm thinking it's going to be so much fun to reconnect with everyone family and friend wise. I have started doing some-I know it sounds super gay (laughs)-some spirituality work involving painting and art. I was thinking "okay I can get through those pursuits' and then work on another play with these same four women involving love relationships because I love these same four characters now. I think I'm going to keep doing that playwriting stuff now, and if something comes up that I like, I'll do it. Even if it's something for free, if it tickles me, I'll do it. If it just kind of has a weird feeling that's a little negative, or if it doesn't have me going "cool", I'm not gonna do it. Even if it's something that pays a lot, I just don't think we have a lot of time to waste here.
Spirituality is something that is becoming so prevalent now, with painting being at the forefront of "centering many people like Rosie O'Donnell and Howard Stern himself. Do you think getting older automatically means getting more centered?
I think for some people do, some don't. There are always going to be the ones that feel content to drink themselves to death or eat themselves to death. Anybody I know is working on themselves. Anyone I know is saying "the old me used to do this, now the new me does this". We just aren't looking around saying "don't waste time" and be a better person. I hate corny slogans, but its kind of like "make somebody's day every day" and don't be an a-hole; you don't have to.
Meditation is something that is really becoming popular, even from a very simple place. Are you finding the same?
Yes! I was laughing at people when they did it, now I'm doing it.
If you had the chance, what would u tell the Lisa Lampanelli from twenty years ago?
Compare and Despair. Whenever you compare yourself to anybody, you despair. Whether you find yourself putting yourself above them, which is not good, or below them, which makes you feel worse about yourself. The second you feel yourself wishing you were that person or wish you had what they have, think about that: you don't want that. If you're thinking about what they have on the outside, you don't want what they have on the inside. If I could never compare myself to anyone again I would be a very successful person.
Lisa Lampanelli will be at The Wellmont Theatre in Montclair, N.J. on November 5th.