A certain comic popular on the roast circuit wasn’t part of the recent Comedy Central broiling of Justin Bieber.
“I only roast people I really like,” explains Lisa Lampanelli, who was once referred to as the “Queen of the Roast” after stealing the show during roasts of Pamela Anderson, William Shatner, Flava Flav and Donald Trump, among others.
Of course, Lampanelli admits she wasn’t asked to roast Bieber. “I promise you I would have said no,” she insists. Bieber didn’t deserve the honor of a roast, she believes, just as Charlie Sheen didn’t in 2011. And back then, Lampanelli did turn down the roast invitation. “At the time, Sheen was a real messy case,” she says. “I don’t want to honor somebody who is mentally unstable and pile on. It seemed stupid and mean.”
She may be best known as the “Queen of Mean,” but Lampanelli is never mean for the sake of it — only for show. At heart, she likes the people she ribs. She means nice. “That’s the thing: You can’t make fun of anyone unless you really like them.” That’s why Bieber and Sheen — to say nothing of the French — are among the few spared Lampanelli’s wrath.
But a true insult comic also has to like herself, or at the very least know and be able to mock her own soft spots and weaknesses. For Lampanelli, it’s food, or “emotional eating,” and men. After her recent divorce, she underwent surgery to remove excess body fat, a drastic measure she took to better help her get to the root of her problems: “A lack of confidence and lack of self-love.” She admits removing the “physical self-hate…doesn’t mean you instantly like yourself.” She sees it as a step toward becoming a better, healthier person.
Lampanelli humorously explores these serious issues in a new “tell-all” stand-up comedy special airing next month on the premium cable channel Epix. She’ll also touch on it next Friday, May 29, when she appears at the Lincoln Theatre for a show that is only “probably 30 percent stuff that will also be on the special.” She’s got too many things she’s “burning to talk about” with a live, truly diverse audience. “I’ve been lucky enough to attract a lot of different minorities and people of different sexual orientations,” she says. “I think because we all feel like we’re a little bit different from just the normal societal standard.” Of course, her appeal to the LGBT community is even more basic and fundamental.
“Let’s be honest, gay guys just like bitchy women,” says the New York native, “so they really seem to buy in.”
Lisa Lampanelli performs Friday, May 29, at 8 p.m., at the Lincoln Theatre, 1215 U St. NW. Tickets are $45. Call 877-435-9849 or visit thelincolndc.com. Lisa Lampanelli: Back to the Drawing Board airs Friday, June 26, on Epix. Visit epixhd.com.