Don't let the high heels and string of pearls fool you. Comedian Lisa Lampanelli may look like a Junior Leaguer, but her bawdy brand of humor is has earned her the nickname "The Queen of Mean."
Shunning typical "female" humor about sippy cups and PMS, the 46-year-old specializes in jokes that play off homosexual and racial stereotypes. At Lampanelli's shows, the first 10 rows are well lit so she can pick out fans to torment.
To a black man: "What's your lovely wife's name? Bankrupt?"
To an Asian woman: "I am so happy your father didn't drown you."
To everyone else: "I would like all of you to clap for the dirty homosexuals who came here tonight. C'mon, clap. It's their last show. They're dying of AIDS."
Lampanelli believes that in the male-dominated arena of stand-up comedy, females have the advantage — assuming they're actually funny, and she thinks few besides Kathy Griffin and Sarah Silverman actually are — because they stand out. The Connecticut native often is the only female comic invited to participate in Comedy Central roasts of folks like Chevy Chase and Jeff Foxworthy, and she's one of the few white comedians to perform on BET's Comic View.
Lampanelli called tbt* from the road. Our interview, like her act, is only for the thick-skinned.
Why do you wear cardigans and pearls on stage?
If a girl goes out there looking hard-core and rough and more tough, it's not an ironic statement to do the kind of act I do. But it comes off more like a balanced thing, and there's a cuteness to it that they like.
Which presidential candidate would give you the most material if elected?
The colored guy would give us a lot of material 'cause he's black, and that's funny 'cause he'd turn the national bird into the chicken and he'd do all kinds of crazy s---, make it into a Waffle House instead of a White House. But Hillary would give you some stuff, 'cause that's some good lesbian jokes in there.
Which audience members seem to be the most easily offended?
No one. If you come to my f---in' show, you pay $50 a ticket. Why would you come if you're going to be offended?
Have you ever regretted anything you said on stage? Do you think you've ever crossed the line?
There's no line in comedy — only if it's not funny. I've regretted doing jokes that didn't work because you're like, "Wow, that's not that funny and it wasn't worth taking the chance on." But if it's funny — there were comics in New York doing Sept. 11 jokes on Sept. 12, 'cause they were good enough comics to do it.
When's the last time something offended you, and what was it?
Stuff offends me in real life, like if I'm on a plane and somebody says something racial even as a joke, but they're not funny. Just 'cause I do it doesn't mean you have the warmth or talent to do it, asshole. Nothing really offends me unless it's unfunny and malintended, 'cause there's some people who really mean the s---. Then I've got to just say, "I don't really find that humorous," or walk away.
You recently performed for some deaf students.
There's a big deaf college up there called National Technical Institute for the Deaf. ... There were some protesters that were mad at me because I made fun of them on the radio, which is kinda ironic because I'm like, "How the f--- did they hear about that?" Afterwards ... a bunch of the protesters came over and they apologized and said that they had it all wrong and that I wasn't racist against deaf people; I'm just racist against everybody, which is a lot nicer.