Lisa Lampanelli has found success in modern-day comedy with a style that's as old school as it gets.
A former researcher and rock journalist for magazines such as Rolling Stone, Spy, and Hit Parader, Lampanelli delivers zingers -- many racially tinged -- in the purest Don Rickles tradition, playing on ethnic stereotypes to decimate her audience but with a wink never far from her eye. This blatant style has made her a key attraction at the roasts thrown by Comedy Central and Howard Stern, and a favorite on "The Tonight Show."
Lampanelli is also starting to find success on the big screen, with roles in major films such as "Larry the Cable Guy's Delta Farce," which hit theaters in May, and next year's Owen Wilson starrer "Drillbit Taylor."
Lampanelli shows why she's known as "The Lovable Queen of Mean" as she skewers some of the top names in entertainment on Comedy Central's roast of Flava Flav.
Bankrate spoke with Lampanelli about her comedic ascent and the pleasures of fame.
Bankrate: How long have you been doing stand-up?
Lisa Lampanelli: Sixteen years. I think I hit 30 and snapped. I was a journalist and I was totally bored because I didn't want to continue interviewing hair bands in the 1980s. I worked for Rolling Stone and Hit Parader and met everyone I wanted to meet. So I said "Screw it, I'll try comedy," 'cause I thought I could do it. Thank goodness it worked, or I'd be Xeroxing my ass at Kinkos.
Bankrate: What kind of material were you doing when you started?
Lisa Lampanelli: You have to talk about things you're passionate about, or it comes out really boring. At the time I was on Weight Watchers and was losing weight, and I was under fire from people at my day job who would make comments about my weight and how I looked. So I ranted and raved about that for five minutes, and thankfully I was pissed off enough about it for it to come out funny. Then I tilted the other way, and within nine months I was doing 100 percent crowd work. Then it went back to the other way, and now it's more insults and angry material, a combination of both.
Bankrate: Were you ever uncomfortable lobbing these sorts of insults at people?
Lisa Lampanelli: No. If I didn't curse it felt stilted because I curse in real life, and the audience senses you're not real if you're holding back on stage.