Seven Questions for Lisa Lampanelli

The Queen of Mean on performing for Vegas hipsters, the healing powers of laughter and why everyone needs to cut Miley Cyrus some slack

Lisa Lampanelli

Photo by Andrew Coppa

Do you enjoy playing to a Las Vegas audience? 

I love to pretend that every audience is super special, but every audience is there—thank God—because they know what they’re expecting. They know what they’re going to get from me. The weird thing about Vegas is that they’re frickin’ insane. They’re nuts. The place where I’m playing, [the Pearl] at Palms, is very hip. It’s a bunch of very hip, cool people who would never hang out with me in real life, so I get to be above them and make fun of them. It is a nice combination.

What do you enjoy about stand-up? 

I certainly like the attention. I like the immediacy of the response. If you do something on TV or film, you have to wait until it comes out to hear the response and get a reaction. With stand-up, it’s there immediately. I also like being self-employed, which means doing whatever I want. I can’t get fired. If you have complaints, I really don’t care.

Were you ever fired from a job? 

I was, in high school. I was a waitress at a golf course’s little dumb restaurant, and I got fired because I was making out with the chef. But those days are over, because now that I’m married, there’s no making out—ever again.

What’s the greatest compliment that you’ve ever received? 

I’m doing this Broadway show that’s coming out this year, and we’re workshopping it around. It’s about my struggle with food and men and things that other women struggle with. I had a couple of really great compliments in that people told me “Oh my God, your show makes me feel like I’m not alone in this struggle.” That’s a big compliment. I also had a woman come up to me and say, “I haven’t laughed in five years since my kid died.” She showed me a tattoo she had of the child who was 5 years old, she was crying and said, “I haven’t laughed since then.” That was huge.

Us comics have really low self-esteem, and we say, “Oh, we don’t do anything for humanity; all we do is make people laugh.” But it’s like, “OK, sometimes people actually need to laugh.”

As the reigning “Queen of Mean,” what does the view from your throne look like? 

Pretty good. I’m pretty lucky, because in the last few years, all of my bigger dreams have been realized. I got married. I lost 107 pounds. I have my new Miley Cyrus haircut. What more could a bitch want? Although I’m sure if you asked me tomorrow, I’d find something to complain about.

Would you like to complain about Miley Cyrus? 

No, I like her! People don’t get it. She’s super-talented. First of all, she’s young; let her do what she wants. She’s not hurting anyone. She can sing. She can act. … If I had that talent, I’d work it, too. I’d twerk if I was that age. But nobody wants to see that at my age.

You’re well known for your work on Comedy Central’s celebrity roasts. Who is ripe to be roasted next? 

My two big heroes being Howard Stern and Don Rickles—I would love to roast them, but that’s not gonna happen anytime soon. If you want to honor someone in this business, you roast them. Yes, you’re being made fun of, but isn’t that what comedy is about? Poking fun at ourselves and other people? If they ever ask me to be roasted, that would be the greatest day of my life.

Anything else you’d like to mention? 

Just get the date of the show right, bitch!

Lisa Lampanelli

performs at 8 p.m. Jan. 18 at the Pearl at the Palms, 944-3200,;

This article originally appeared in Vegas/Rated magazine. View the issue or download the Vegas/Rated app.