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Mike BarryEye on the Island

By Mike Barry
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The Insult Comic

Comedienne Lisa Lampanelli has made a name for herself on cable TV’s Comedy Central roasts, where show business figures are subjected to an endless array of insults.

To give you a flavor for her style, Lampanelli offered this gibe about the follicle-challenged KISS band member Gene Simmons when Comedy Central roasted the aging rocker. “Now how did you come up with that hair style, genius? Did you catch Planet of the Apes on cable and say, hmm, now there’s a look?”

Lampanelli’s memoir, Chocolate, Please: My Adventures in Food, Fat and Freaks (It Books/HarperCollins), was released this week and she’ll be at Book Revue, 313 New York Avenue, Huntington, on Thursday, Sept. 17 at 7 p.m. to promote it.

The book is not something you’ll want to leave on the coffee table if children reside in, or visit, your home unless you want to explain to a kid why the 40-something year-old Lampanelli is pictured on its cover alongside an African-American man who’s wearing a toga and carrying a chocolate cake. But her audience is adults and Lampanelli’s stand-up routine is built around her affinity for African-American men and her weight fluctuations.

Nonetheless, Lampanelli, a Trumbull, CT, native, is an energetic performer who always brings her ‘A’ material to the Comedy Central roasts. “I was nervous when I heard you were hosting,” Lampanelli told Seinfield’s Jason Alexander, who was master of ceremonies for Star Trek star William Shatner’s skewering. “I thought the roast would be canceled before they got to me.”

Actress and Game Show Network staple Betty White wasn’t spared at the Shatner event either. “White is so old that the grand prize during her first game show was fire,” Lampanelli said.

Like many comics, Lampanelli has a dark side, and she lets it all hang out in Chocolate, Please. Her two trips to rehab centers, one to detoxify from a bad relationship (yes, such a facility exists) and the other to combat an eating disorder, are thoroughly chronicled. The first treatment was prompted by a rocky romance with Tommy Chong, once part of a comedy team known as Cheech and Chong, which celebrated the constant pursuit and use of marijuana. I found it hard to believe that Chong’s behavior sent people other than himself to treatment centers.

“Although I am Italian, I have only cooked twice in my life, and as with most single New York City women, my stove has yet to be used for anything other than storage and the occasional suicide attempt,” Lampanelli writes, when talking about the eating disorder treatment facility’s insistence that clients cook and do chores.

Chocolate, Please is tough to get through at times because of the endless amount of needless cussing and pointless observations. Lampanelli does seem to know, however, when to pull her punches. For instance, this joke ended up on the cutting room floor prior to Simmons’ roast.

“I loved the episode of Family Jewels where you got plastic surgery,” Lampanelli had planned to say to Simmons. “Look at you! I’m not saying your surgery was a failure but I can honestly say that Kanye West’s mother got better results.”

Mike Barry, a corporate communications consultant, has worked in government and journalism.

Mike Barry, a corporate communications consultant, has worked in government and journalism. Email: MFBARRY@optonline.net