Lisa Lampanelli at the Colonial: Goodbye political correctness
PITTSFIELD -- Lisa Lampanelli is the antithesis of political correctness.
The caustic comic described as a cross between Don Rickles, Archie Bunker and a vial of estrogen targets all demographics -- especially minorities -- with raunchy insults, slurs and stereotypical barbs that make her critics cringe.
The New England native and her fans see it as strictly edgy humor.
"My audience knows I am joking around and return because they love how I make fun of people," she said in a phone interview with The Berkshire Eagle. "I can't stand how politically correct things have to be today."
Lampanelli's love of lampooning American society makes its Berkshire County debut with a performance 8 p.m. Saturday at the Berkshire Theatre Group's Colonial Theatre.
Her current nationwide "Leaner, Meaner Tour," shows off a 52-year-old who is 100 pounds lighter thanks to weight loss surgery two years ago. Lampanelli cited health, not an image makeover, for the leaner look. As for being meaner, that's fueled, in part, by channeling the emotional side of staying thin through her stand-up routine.
"It's all new material, never before seen on TV," she said. "Same type of comedy, with audience participation and about me."
Born Lisa Lampugnale and raised in Trumbull, Conn. the blonde who revels in dropping verbal bombshells was originally a journalist. After graduating in 1983 from the vaunted S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, Lampanelli worked for several magazines, including Popular Mechanics and Rolling Stone. She even tried her hand at teaching before launching her stand-up comedy career in New York City almost 20 years ago. Lampugnale became Lampanelli, as she noted, because it was easier to spell and pronounce.
Lampanelli's comedic style is rooted in the Dean Martin Comedy Roasts on television. As an adolescent watching the 90-minute humorous tributes to Frank Sinatra, Johnny Carson, Muhammad Ali and other ‘70s celebrities, she found the insult comedy a natural fit for her -- as did her parents.
"They always got a kick out of what I do," Lampanelli said. "When they decided to see my act at an ‘open mic,' they saw I had something and could make it."
Lampanelli's breakthrough moment came in 2002 as the only female comedian invited to skewer fellow comedian Chevy Chase at the New York Friars Club Roast. She quickly became known as the "Queen of the Roast" by zinging Pamela Anderson, William Shatner, Donald trump and other celebrities.
In 2009, Lampanelli was emcee of the highly rated Comedy Central roast of good friend and fellow comic, Larry the Cable Guy.
She has taped numerous specials for Comedy Central, VH1, MTV and other cable television channels. Her albums and concert videos became big sellers with "Dirty Girl" nominated for a 2007 Grammy Award for Best Comedy Album of the Year.
Feature film credits include "Delta Farce," "The Aristocrats," and most recently "Not Fade Away."
Lampanelli hopes to add theatrical performances to her credits. She is developing a one-woman show about her life titled "Fat Girl, Interrupted."
"I was really getting bored with stand-up and wanted to try something new," she said. "If it comes out well, hopefully I can get it on Broadway."
Nevertheless, stand-up comedy remains Lampanelli's first love and enjoys being the company of other current A-list female comedians with sharp wit and tongues, such as Chelsea Handler
"I like her, also Amy Schumer and Kathy Griffin as they put themselves out there -- they're fearless," she said.
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