See for yourself how it hurts so good when the “Queen of Mean” brings her barbs to FireLake Grand Casino on Friday. An audience favorite of Comedy Central’s celebrity roasts, she’s an insult comic in the bitter mold of Don Rickles.
But it wasn’t always that way. “It really started the first time I got heckled,” Lampanelli said. “It was compliment and an insult at the same time. And if you’re like me, you go right for the insult part.”
As she recalled, she had come off a successful set, but the guy on after her was bombing, so someone in the audience yelled, “Bring back the fat chick!” “And all I heard was ‘fat chick,’ not the ‘bring back’ part,” she said. “So instead of being normal and going, ‘Oh, they like me,’ I’m like, ‘Oh, my God, I am so never letting anyone say anything negative to me ever again. ... Then I started hitting first, and now my whole act is one big counterpunch. All bets are off.”
Audiences eat it up. She even has fans message her on Twitter to tell her what seat they’ll be in at an upcoming show, in hopes of becoming a target of her tongue.
“That person either loves themselves or hates themselves,” Lampanelli said. “Either way, it’s more money for me. I feel it’s an honor for me to make fun of you.”
Her appearances on the televised roasts have brought her nationwide exposure, but they’re tough to do.
“They suck,” Lampanelli said. “The people you know are kidding, you never take offense to. What I take offense to are badly written dumb jokes. ... That’s the secret of a roast, which is the secret of my comedy: Do it with a wink and a smile that shows you have love in your heart for these people, and they’ll let you get away with anything.”
By “anything,” she means lines like ...
On Gene Simmons and his hair: “Did you catch ‘Planet of the Apes’ on cable and go, ‘Hmm, now there’s a look.’” On David Hasselhoff: “I don’t want to say David drank a lot, but his liver was so black and bloated, it could’ve starred in ‘Precious.’” On Larry the Cable Guy and his “Git-R-Done” catchphrase: “You’ve beaten that concept so hard, it’s now dating Chris Brown.”
“My whole rule is, can I make it funny?” Lampanelli said. “If I can’t, this ain’t therapy. I come from this weird school of comedy where it’s not about me, it’s about you. The audience paid their money. They want to be entertained. Not everybody’s rich, you know?”