I have a very distinct memory of seeing Lisa Lampanelli perform. It wasn’t one of her specials, nor was it a live stand-up show. Her wonderfully politically incorrect words first touched my ears via the Comedy Central Roast of Pamela Anderson in 2005. She’d been in the middle of making a rather interesting observation about Andy Dick’s penchant for taste-testing Popsicles when she suddenly segued into Courtney Love. A longtime Nirvana fan, I was immediately hooked.
Lampanelli’s popularity earned her subsequent roast appearances, as well as four comedy specials. Her fifth, Back to the Drawing Board, details her life since undergoing gastric-sleeve surgery, the subsequent post-surgery weight loss, and her divorce from Jimmy “Big Balls” Cannizzaro (her words, not mine). Back to the Drawing Board premieres on EPIX on Friday, June 26. We spent some time talking about her dog, Parker (which she named after Sarah-Jessica Parker), PC culture, and her background in journalism, among other things.
When you started preparing the new hour, was it difficult to bring up personal subjects like divorce and weight loss, or was it just another subject to do comedy about?
Well, I’ve always been an open book. If Howard Stern, who is just the greatest radio host of all time, can get out there and talk about his real life the way he does, I was always inspired by that. So I was like, “You know what? I’m just going to tell the truth.” So right after the weight-loss surgery, Jimmy and I went on TV with Doctor Oz and talked about it. Why hold it back? So yeah, the whole special is more of an effort to be real, tell the truth, tell about real things people have been asking about. The jokes just sort of write themselves from there. I like building on what’s really going on.
It’s refreshing when you talk about your divorce, because you don’t go on stage and say, “I got divorced, I hate marriage,” and tell the usual anti-love jokes.
I hate that. I love marriage. I’d get married a few more times. Really, I just love weddings. I’m a terrible wife with all my faults and everything, but I do love the idea of it. So, by the time I work all my kinks out, if I’m 80 and still looking for love, I may do it again.
Summer is the time of weddings. I’ve been to two already, and have a few more lined up, but only as a spectator.
It’s so much fun! And I just love that, hopefully gay marriage will pass (the Supreme Court). It’ll be fantastic! Let’s hope for the best so that everybody will find what they’re looking for.
How long have you been shaping the hour for the new special?
About nine months ago, I thought I really liked the stuff I was working out, the divorce, the weight loss, the food issues. I just do it when the hour seems right. I don’t have projected goals. I don’t feel like I have to do one of these every five years. Just when I thought the hour seems like a lot fun, and that people would like to hear this stuff.
It seems like you really enjoyed working with EPIX.
They’re great! Honestly, they don’t make you edit anything. They don’t take anything out. They’re not scaredy cats about material. It’s pretty cool. I love that they don’t have this censoring mentality. Also, they have fun social-media ideas. They’re young, hip and everything I’m not.