(Warning: R-rated humor ahead.)
Lisa Lampanelli knows how to put her audiences to the test. The Queen of Mean is funny, but she builds her jokes on a foundation of offensive viewpoints: Arabs smell bad. Black men are lazy. Gay men perform repulsive sexual acts.
With a different style of delivery, Lampanelli’s routine at the Melody Tent on Aug. 5 would constitute a hate crime. But she’s so far over the top, that it was hard not to laugh – even if you were simultaneously thinking, “I shouldn’t be laughing at this.”
Lampanelli’s rude humor was only amplified by her use of language that would make George Carlin blush. Most of her jokes couldn’t be printed in a newspaper, like when she rattled off a series of punchlines about her fiance’s “nutsack” (its unusally large, she says) or said that make genitalia looked like Foghorn Leghorn.
Lampanelli managed to skewer just about every ethnic group. “The only thing shorter than a Jew’s penis is a black guy’s to-do list,” she said. Picking on different audience members, she made a distinction between “slurpee Indians” and “casino Indians.”
Gays are one of her favorite targets. Pointing at one audience member, she said, “He’s so gay, he shits skittles.” Then she added, “I love the gays. Thank you for showing up. I guess there’s nothing on Bravo tonight.”
She also poked fun at herself and her fiancé, a muscular Italian guy. “We made love under an airline blanket,” she said. “The woman in between us was a little put off.”
Lampanelli plugged her appearance in a comedy roast of David Hasselhoff (debuting Aug. 15 on Comedy Central) by saying the “Baywatch” star’s “liver is so fat and broke it could have starred in ‘Precious.’” She also poked barbed fun at Michael Jackson, Gene Simmons, Flavor Flav, George Hamilton and other celebs.
But no matter what, she couldn’t coax a boo from the crowd. After making a wisecrack about Sarah Palin’s youngest child, who has Down syndrome, she said, “That joke always gets one or two moans. But not you, you evil people.”
The surprising thing is that there’s a tiny chance her show at the Melody Tent was toned down just a little bit. She introduced a couple in front-row seats as her parents.
Opening the show was Mike Morse. Some of his punchlines were a bit predictable (when his wife gave birth, he was “locked in a room with no booze, no TV and an angry woman”), but he also scored some laughs. He started out by saying that the wind-chill factor represents a concept that could be used elsewhere. “I’ve worked for 45 minutes, but because of the ‘(jerk) boss factor,’ it feels like nine hours. I’m putting in for overtime.”
He’s not nearly as outrageous as Lampanelli, but he delivered some lines that made you laugh and cringe. He said his 5-year-old son has ADHD, “which means he’s really hyper, but he gets great television reception.”