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INTERVIEW: Comedy Scene Veteran Lisa Lampanelli On "Fat Chance," Her Deeply Personal Show, Giving Up Insult Comedy, And More

T.J. Clemente

Fat Chance: An Evening of Conversation & Story with Lisa Lampanelli is coming to Bay Street. (Courtesy Photo)

Fat Chance showcases Lisa Lampanelli, the former insult comic, at her new best. From her humorous storytelling to her lively Q&A with audience members, the no holds barred entertainer is truthful, vulnerable and, most importantly, as hilarious as ever. From her food obsession to her physical transformation (she lost over 160 pounds with the help of bariatric surgery more than six years ago) to her compulsion to date the "junk food of men," Lisa with the help of Frank Liotti, brings the audience on a journey.

When I asked Lampanelli what makes this show different from stand-up? She said, "I have retired from doing insult comedy, but I have gone through this food and weight journey, and working on food and eating for so many years, I have written an Off-Broadway play called, Stuffed, which was Off-Broadway for two seasons. So, when Stuffed closed, I wanted to take that show, which had a good message, and was funny, and tour it, and have storytellers telling their stories about their struggles with food weight loss and body acceptance. I wanted it to be funny, but heartfelt like the Broadway show. So, how is this different from stand-up? It's two people telling stories of where they have been and what they have been through and hopefully having people leave the show feeling that they have learned something about themselves and feel a little less alone in their struggles. That's why I am not doing insult comedy anymore, it's not in my best interest."

When asked why she is enjoying doing the type of show that Fat Chance is, Lampanelli replied, "It's literally a great thing to take things you have gone through in your life, see in people faces that me too, I have gone through that too, and if she is still working on herself, trying to figure out this whole crazy weight food diet, body image stuff, we can still keep working on ourselves too. So, that's the best part."

Throughout the conversation I could hear and feel both Lampanelli's phenomenal intellect and compassion. She is on a mission, and explained her show is her way of being on her mission.

When asked what caused the epiphany to go into this direction Lampanelli shared this, "A few years ago, my stand-up started to feel self-serving and even though I had a message of every one is on the same level, and did comedy in the tradition of Don Rickles that brought people together, I realized it was more important for me to talk about the biggest issue that has been in my life, which unfortunately has been food and body image stuff... I felt like I am getting joy out of this. I believe the more we want to help people, the more real one has to become. That was my reason for starting this show."

So, what has been the toughest moment on this journey? Lampanelli revealed, "No matter how much I try to work on me and my food stuff, it's always a daily struggle, but I think that's good because it sucks for me to be always trying to keep this weight off and trying to like myself. I am reminded daily of what everyone in the world who has this issue goes through. That's where Frank comes in too, because he also has had to deal with these issues and is a great wonderful storyteller."

Then, Lampanelli went on to explain that it's a gift to take this serious issue and through her comedy genius "present it seriously, but also make people laugh at times, because in the end, I am a funny person."

Catch Fat Chance: An Evening of Conversation & Story with Lisa Lampanelli at Bay Street on Saturday, October 19 at 8 p.m.

Bay Street is located at 1 Bay Street in Sag Harbor. For more information, call 631-725-9500 or visit www.baystreet.org.

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