Lisa Lampanelli isn’t known for holding her tongue or mincing her words. She calls herself an “insult comic,” and her style of comedy is famously filthy.
She is, on the other hand, known for appearing on the fifth season of Donald Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice,” a 2012 gig that raised her public profile significantly.
The Donald did a lot for her, Lampanelli said, and she still works with his son, Eric Trump, to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Sorry, but she just can’t unleash her signature insults on now-presidential candidate Donald Trump.
On the other hand:
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“You know what personally I think?” she said during a recent phone interview. “I think it’s this thing he did just to say, ‘Let’s see if I can do this.’ And then it snowballed, and now he’s like, ‘I can’t believe I might be president.’ It’s like a joke that went out of control. Let’s just hope they name a rest stop after him and call it good.”
Lampanelli, often referred to as “Comedy’s Lovable Queen of Mean,” will bring her brazen standup routine to Wichita’s Orpheum Theatre on Saturday, and you can be sure that Trump will come up. Ever since he launched his bid for the presidency, Lampanelli said, fans and journalists alike have been asking if she’s going to vote for him.
And if not, they want to know, who will she vote for?
“I don’t vote,” she said. “It’s really funny, but ever since I’ve turned 18, I’ve never voted except by that thing where you send it in through the mail. I’ve always been on the road. And then I thought, ‘If I don’t complain about the government and don’t complain about anything having to do with politics, it’s OK.’ I’ll probably just stay ill-informed and hope I die before Trump becomes president.”
Lampanelli’s routine also will cover the topics that launched her in the spotlight of late, namely her divorce, her snazzy short haircut and her remarkable weight loss. After having gastric sleeve surgery in 2012, Lampanelli shed 107 pounds – and has kept it off.
Those were the topics she covered in her 2015 comedy special and album “Back to the Drawing Board,” which earned her a Grammy nomination. (She lost to expected winner Louie C.K. during the ceremony earlier this month.)
“I started talking a lot about my divorce and weight loss and things that are personal, and for some reason, that got me nominated for a Grammy. So I thought, ‘OK. I’m on the the right track.’ So I started telling my stories.”
Wichita’s audience will hear those stories, and they’ll also be treated to a segment Lampanelli added to her standup show about a month ago. Late in her set, she takes questions from the audience. They can ask her anything, she said, and they do. Audience members, who are frequently ridiculed for their questions (it’s all part of the fun), want to know about her divorce, what she’s done to her hair and more.
“I had somebody raise their hand a few months ago and ask me something, and that felt good to just go with it. I thought, ‘You know what? I’m smart enough. I can go on the fly.’ It makes it fun for me,” she said.
Lampanelli is a former journalist, trained at Boston College and Syracuse, who previously held jobs at Popular Mechanics, Spy magazine and Rolling Stone. Her favorite celebrity interview ever, she said, was with Fred Gwynne, who portrayed Herman Munster on “The Munsters.”
But she always felt drawn to comedy, especially the kind of in-your-face comedy she grew up watching with her family on “The Dean Martin’s Celebrity Roast” series.
Her big break came in 2002, when she was invited to appear as part of Chevy Chase’s roast at the Friar’s Club of New York City. She was relentless, and nasty, and a career was born. One of her specialties since then has been celebrity roasts, and on her long list of skewerees is Trump, Gene Simmons, Jeff Foxworthy, Larry the Cable Guy, Pamela Anderson, Flavor Flav, David Hasselhoff and Denis Leary.
Lampanelli also is a regular guest on Howard Stern’s Sirius XM show, and lately, she’s been engrossed in her new passion – a play she’s written called “Fat Girls, Interrupted,” which explores weight, food and body issues among four different women.
She’ll put on a special reading of the play in March in her home state of Connecticut, and she said she is close to signing a deal to bring the show to a high-profile New York City theater. She hopes it will hit the stage by fall.
“I’m really excited,” she said. “I just can’t believe how much it’s made even my comedy more fun. You know how you can get kind of bored with what you’re doing, and then you inject something into your life, whether it’s an animal or a kid or a friendship or another kind of work, and suddenly, you like work again? Now I’m exited about standup again, and I know that’s why the Grammy thing happened. I just know if I wasn’t working on something else, I’d be bored and feel trapped.”
What: “Comedy’s Lovable Queen of Mean” will perform her standup routine
When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Where: Orpheum Theatre, 200 N. Broadway
Tickets: $29.50 $34.50 $39.50 $49.50, www.selectaseat.com, 316-744-7328, Intrust Bank Arena Box office, Select-A-Seat outlets