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Mean No More

by Steve Desroches

Lisa Lampanelli called President Donald Trump a “bloated, stinky douche” to his face. Of course it was at a Comedy Central Roast in 2011 and he wasn’t President at the time, but nevertheless, it’s still a fond memory for her. “I’d do it again,” says Lampanelli, who for almost 30 years was the reigning Queen of Mean as an insult comic. But that’s about all she’d repeat going into the future after announcing on The Howard Stern Show that she was retiring from stand-up comedy. It came as a bit of a surprise to longtime fans. But what was even more surprising, even shocking, was that Lampanelli was becoming a life coach.

This is, after all, the woman who made a living telling outrageous jokes about every taboo subject known to humanity and then some, leaving audiences slack-jawed. But she also made them laugh, often uniting her diverse audiences by taking the air out of divisive issues and, oddly enough, expressing a real affection for people by throwing insults at them. She’s had enough, though. The grueling touring schedules and the demanding pace of such a life began to wear her down, pummeling her spirit, which was already beleaguered by her unhappiness with her weight and unfulfilling relationships. It was time for a change.

“I didn’t feel the joy anymore,” says Lampanelli. “That’s normal. People get sick of their jobs after a while and need a change. I’d been doing stand-up comedy for 30 years. I was tired of my job. I’m transitioning and am finding the work the most rewarding of my career. I know transitioning means something else up in Ptown, but you know what I mean.”

Lampanelli may have lost the passion for stand-up, but she certainly did not lose her sense of humor. All those years performing the stage persona she’d created as a character, she wants a fuller representation of her complete self on stage. In order to do that she needed to revisit herself after so many years as the Queen of Mean. That involved confronting the three things that she used as diversions: food, men, and comedy.

Lampanelli has struggled with body issues her whole life, and she had an unhealthy relationship with food. In 2012 she underwent bariatric surgery, and with changes in lifestyle lost over 100 pounds. From the age of 12, Lampanelli says, she was never without a boyfriend, feeling her self-worth was somehow tied to the validation of being wanted, but in the process ended up with a lot of lousy partners. She divorced in 2014 and then pursued a vigorous life-coach certification program. And as for her comedy, she shifted with her 2015 special Back to the Drawing Board, earning a Grammy nomination, and hinting big changes were coming. Now, she performs as a comedic storyteller, relaying stories of her journey toward happiness and self-love.

Her show Fat Chance, which will feature comedian Frank Liotti, is most definitely funny, but also heartfelt, seeking to inspire rather than insult. Her new comedic rhythms are a laugh every 15 seconds rather then her usual six, explains Lampanelli. One thing her show does not do is offer any apologies for her career. They were and always will be just jokes. If an individual was offended by any of her jokes, she encourages them to write to her, and says she’d be happy to apologize. But apologizing to entire groups of people, she thinks that’s “bullshit.” And over all those years, and since announcing she was leaving stand-up, she’s never heard from anyone. Quite the contrary, adding that gay men, often the target of her most savage jokes, continue to be her biggest supporters.

“You don’t have to shit on your old dreams to pursue your new ones,” says Lampanelli. “I wouldn’t be where I am now without all of my past. That’s why I don’t have any regrets.”

Looking back at her life thus far, it can’t escape notice the number of times she shared a stage or screen with the man who is now President. That’s remarkable, particularly because it seems surreal to think back at those times and consider Trump would ever be where he is now. Lampanelli first met Trump when he was the subject of a Friar’s Club roast in 2004 and then again as a cast member on The Celebrity Apprentice 5, when she raised $130,000 for Gay Men’s Health Crisis. She, and others on the show and at the roasts, found Trump to be “mentally ill, narcissistic, and crazy.” But at the time, she says, she thought he’s only hurting himself and his businesses. Now things are quite different. Lampanelli faced a lot of criticism for cracking jokes about Hispanics on the show. She told jokes on a reality show; Trump uses the same language when outlining his policies on immigration.

In Fat Chance Lampanelli tells stories of her time on Trump’s reality show, describing “jarring” experiences she had with him. She confirms a 2016 Washington Post story that reported the only thing Trump said was off limits at the 2011 Comedy Central Roasts were jokes that suggested he wasn’t as wealthy as he said he was. Lampanelli was a fixture at roasts, and she recalls the only thing William Shatner placed off limits was the death of his wife, for Pamela Anderson it was having Hepatitis C. But for Trump it was his money. She has more stories she plans to share when she appears at the Crown and Anchor.

Lampanelli came to Provincetown back in April when she performed her one-woman show The Gorge at the Provincetown Theater. She’s performed here before, taking over Town Hall back in 2012. And Provincetown is a place special to her, not just for the gigs she’s landed here over the years, but personally as well, which is why she thrilled to bring Fat Chance to town.

“I would go up there in my twenties when it was way crazier,” says Lampanelli. “And it just felt like, ‘oh, I can walk around and be myself and not be judged.’ I always felt accepted, even before I was a comic. There are very few places you can go and not be judged.”

Fat Chance: An Evening of Conversation and Story with Lisa Lampanelli is at the Crown and Anchor, 247 Commercial St., on Monday, July 1 and Tuesday, July 2 at 8 p.m. Tickets ($35/$45) are available at the box office and online at For more information call 508.487.1430.

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Ginger Mountain

Ginger Mountain (MS Communications Media, BA Fine Arts/Teaching Certification K-12) has been part of the graphic design team at Provincetown Magazine since 2008. Ginger has worked as a creative director, individual contractor, and freelance designer with clients representing many areas —business software, consumer products, professional services, entertainment, and network hardware to name just a few — providing creative layout and development of a wide range of print media content. Her clients ranged from small local businesses to large corporations and Fortune 500 companies, from New Hampshire to Georgia

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