Lisa Lampanelli has undergone a real transformation. In the past two years, she has not only changed her physical appearance, shedding more than 107 pounds and cutting her hair short, but she’s also changed her entire way of thinking, living and performing. She ended an unhappy marriage, and has gone from the “queen of mean” to wanting to focus on service, happiness and gratitude. On June 22, she’s going to be talking about it all when she sits down “in conversation” with Ron Bennington at the 92nd Street Y in front of a New York audience. Just four days later, you’ll be able to watch her brand new special, “Back to the Drawing Board” when it premieres on EPIX at 10pm.
Last week Lisa stopped by Ron’s radio show, “Bennington” on SiriusXM satellite radio to talk about her upcoming special, and to promote the 92Y event. “I always had that as one of my bucket list things,” she said, referring to doing a talk at New York’s 92nd street Y. “It’s such a classy move to be interviewed there, so I figured how can we declass it?” She chose Bennington to interview her for the big night because, she said, “I just feel you understand me and you get me.”
Bennington and Lampanelli sat down together last August for a one hour interview that she called “the best hour of radio I’ve ever done” and she can’t wait to get up on stage on June 22 to go deeper. She said “people will get the real Lisa instead of that ‘smoke and mirrors’ lets-be-funny-all-the-time that you have to be at some of these shows where you have to be a paid monkey.” She added, “You got it, you understood it” referring to all the changes she’s gone through physically, spiritually and emotionally, “that’s why I’m not scared about doing 92y. He gets it. The audience will get it. We’ll have a good time. But I think people want to know what’s going on and brewing behind what a comic really is about and you’ve made a career out of doing that so well.”
Lampanelli’s big changes have also changed her act. She wants new challenges and new ways to connect to her audience, she told Bennington. “I got to the age and the point– you’re 53 years old. Are you going to be real? I just wanted to expose myself more because I think it helps other people. People go, ‘oh I had that eating problem’ or ‘I had that emotional difficulty’ or ‘I was emotionally unavailable too.’ So basically you can entertain them with laughter plus I think you can spur them to action by telling your story.”
Her new special, which debuts on June 26th, will be different from anything she’s done before. It will really go behind the scenes on her life in the past few years, answering a lot of questions people have been asking. “It’s more storytelling, definitely still audience work,” she told Bennington. “But it’s stories about all these past four years. The weight loss, tell me how you did it, what are the ins and outs of it, tell us about the struggles with your weight for 32 years, the divorce, whats the real story with the men and this and that. So I put it all out there. I said for this special I’m just going to say the truth about everything, so I talk a lot about Jimmy and our relationship now, which thank god is very good, a lot about the surgery and the struggle with that. Also, a lot of behind the scenes of some tv stuff that I’ve done that’s been controversial, so I think its good.”
And she’s already planning her next special, which she hopes to debut in 2018. “The one in three years is going to be super deep because its going to start with my journey from my dad dying to this spirituality in a humorous way.”
But for the moment her focus is on the 92Y event. For anyone unfamiliar with the New York City venue, some of the most creative and brilliant minds have given talks on their legendary stage, like Truman Capote, Norman Mailer, George Plimpton, Sam Shepard, and Annie Liebowitz to name just a few. “This to me is like the biggest deal of my career. It’s up there with the HBO special. Cause I’m like, wow! It just seems like another way to open a door to what’s really me and to expose myself correctly to people so yeah, if you want to hear a lot of real talk from me, people come see us!”
For the future, she’s not worried about her changes affecting her career. “I see the sky as really the limit as far as I’m willing to go and whatever happens opportunity wise, that’s okay.”