'Insult Comic' Lisa Lampanelli on the Amazing Thing That Happens When You Insult Yourself Instead
In comedy, as with any form of storytelling, it's refreshing to make a true personal connection with your audience. It's this lesson that's fueled the next phase of Lisa Lampanelli's career.
Lisa Lampanelli is known as Comedy's Lovable Queen of Mean. This equal opportunity offender is a regular on Howard Stern's Sirius satellite radio shows, and she has appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Late Show with David Letterman, Chelsea Lately, Jimmy Kimmel Live, The Dr. Oz Show, and Good Morning America. She was also a member of the cast of NBC's Celebrity Apprentice, Season 5. In 2009, Lisa entered the ranks of comic greats and premiered her first ever one-hour HBO comedy special, Long Live the Queen, to tremendous ratings. That same year, her autobiography, Chocolate, Please: My Adventures in Food, Fat and Freaks, hit bookstores to critical acclaim. Lisa is well-known for her many Comedy Central and Friars Club roasts. She has lambasted Jeff Foxworthy, Pamela Anderson, David Hasselhoff, Betty White, Donald Trump, and Flavor Flav to name a few. Plus, she was honored to serve as roastmaster on the Comedy Central Roast of Larry the Cable Guy. Her fifth comedy special, Back to the Drawing Board, premieres Friday, June 26, 2015 on EPIX.
Lisa Lampanelli: I found in the last year I decided I wanted to connect with people more by showing them who I really was instead of consistently going after the audience as an insult comic. I still do insult comedy. I love it. But I've been asked for so many years, "Hey what's the deal with the weight-loss? What's the deal with your personal life? What's the deal with the divorce? What's the deal with like these supposed, like, spiritual retreat to go on?" Because I'll throw little things out about it. And I go people really want to know what makes us tick. People might like to know about our struggles too. So I've decided to talk a lot more about those things and in my new special and probably my specials from now on, I'm just going to talk more about what I've been through as far as an evolution in the last few years and also show people that they're not alone in their struggles too. Because I think that super powerful is going — I struggled for 32 years with my weight and I had no other choice but to get this surgery and get weight loss that way, that extreme. So I think people go oh I'm not alone; I'm not the only one. And that feels good. So that's how I'm challenging myself lately and I think that's enough of a challenge because it's like wow I'm really exposing what's wrong with me. I found that ever since I decided to open up a little more and show people who I am without being heavy-handed and without sort of banging a message home of like, "Hey I'm going to help you through my struggles." Just by being funny about them and bringing them to light, I think it's not a coincidence that the minute I started doing that I started getting standing ovations again. I had stopped getting standing O's about two years ago and I was like I wonder why. Like I'm still super funny. But I think people were like okay, you know, that's cool. We love Lisa. That's fine. But there's something about opening up a little without them even kind of tangibly being able to figure out how that they started just jumping up at the like revelations. And I okay, this is working for them; it's working for me; and it makes me feel like I have a purpose more as a human being. So I kind of love that. So I think it's really resonating.
I feel I learned honesty from Howard Stern. Howard Stern was always, even in the old days, out there talking honestly about his life, honestly about his small penis size or whatever he makes fun of about himself, his looks, et cetera, and I just go I'm just going to be honest about what I hate about myself. I'm going to be honest about my foibles and how idiotic I can be. And I think that's really important for me as a comic. I don't know if it's necessarily important for all comics, but it adds a layer that I think the audience resonates with you and says, "Ooh I want to get to know them better. Oh I want to hang out with them after." I want to leave a show having the audience saying, "Oh she's the type of person I can be friends with." So that's kind of a nice goal to have, even though I'd never be friends with those losers. I mean come on they're paying to see me. But, I mean, I want to just have that feeling of wow we're all on the same page.
Lisa Lampanelli made her name in the comedy world by making fun of people. That's all fine and dandy, and it's not something she's going to stop doing (you've been warned), but her stand-up act has undergone a recent transformation that she considers purposeful and resonant. Now she's incorporating more of what she doesn't like about herself. She runs through her struggles in a funny way that really affects and connects her audience. Lampanelli explains in this video interview how in comedy, as with any form of storytelling, it really makes a difference when you incorporate frank and honest personal testimonies. Not only does it make you more endearing, but also it sends an important message to those who share your struggles: "You are not alone." Lisa's fifth comedy special, Back to the Drawing Board, premiered Friday, June 26, 2015 on EPIX.
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What does sports fandom look like in the new normal?
- With the masses huddled at home and glued to our screens, the last several months of frozen competition provided an opportunity for sports franchises to experiment with creative modes of fan engagement, often involving multiple media channels.
- On another level, this is a challenge that wasn't prompted by COVID-19 and won't go away when COVID-19 does.
- Franchise marketers are accelerating their digital transformation processes, finding innovative ways to connect with fans online, with VR, community building and repackaging classic content.
Head back to the stadium – virtually<p>After months of deprivation, fans are panting to see their favorite teams. For the moment, they are so eager to return to live sports that they are ecstatic over any live game broadcast. On July 5, some 5.7 million people tuned in to the Southampton v. Manchester City match, making it the Premier League's most-watched match ever. </p><p>But as time goes by, the shine of live sports will wear off. An empty stadium is disappointing both for viewers at home and for players. The NFL's "virtual draft" event in April drew a larger audience (15.6 million) than Monday Night Football did last weekend (14 million), even though the former was little more than a televised Zoom call while the latter was a marquee matchup between two of the hottest teams in the league, the Chiefs and the Ravens.</p><p>The time has come for the sports industry to find creative ways to harness technology for the next generation of fan engagement. What can we learn about the future based on what worked best during the pandemic?</p>
Breathe new life into regurgitated content<p>Filling up gaps in the programming schedule with reruns of classic games worked well at first, but returns are diminishing. Success requires networks to put more work into their content choices.</p><p>Tommy Stimson, managing director at Qualitative Insights, <a href="https://marumatchbox.com/4-actions-fan-engagement-sports-covid-19/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">points out</a> that fans aren't very interested in games from the last 10-12 years. Footage from these games is already widely available online, plus "The known outcome and familiarity with the content makes the reruns less-than-satisfying." Instead, Stimson recommends showing iconic, historical sports moments that most of today's fans haven't seen or experienced. </p><p>Fans appreciate reruns far more when the footage is interspersed with new analysis and commentary, either from current players or from the athletes who were playing at the time. One of the darlings of Netflix's pandemic-era programming lineup, Michael Jordan's <em>The Last Dance </em>documentary, which followed the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls on their title run, drew an average of 5.6 million viewers for each of its ten episodes.</p><p>Many teams hosted social media-integrated "watch parties," where former players shared their personal memories and fielded questions from fans while streaming classic games, and fans were delighted with the multi-screen experience, which dovetailed perfectly with game rerun telecasts. <a href="https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/survey-sports-with-empty-stadiums-means-millions-of-americans-will-be-engaging-from-home-301094037.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">One poll</a> found that 76 percent of U.S. fans want more watch party-style viewing options moving forward.</p>
Screenshot of New England Patriots re-watch party ad
Credit: Facebook<p>Networks would also do well to tap into the <a href="https://bigthink.com/culture-religion/money-sports-success" target="_self">deeper reasons</a> why people follow sports, by sharing narratives about how teams come together as a unit, or times when players overcame adversity. Viewers are eager for behind-the-scenes content that reveals how players stay in shape, how managers set strategies, or the motivating factors behind decisions to trade, draft, and otherwise acquire talent.</p><p>As brands collect more viewer data, they can also deliver more personalized content experiences that engage fans more deeply. </p>
Invite fans to vote for in-game elements<p>Giving fans ways to have a real effect on in-game elements is another winner for the sports industry. Juventus has long been a trail-blazer for digital transformation, so it's no big surprise to see the storied soccer franchise leading the way again.</p><p><span></span>Juventus <a href="https://www.socios.com/new-goal-celebration-song-for-juventus-is-revealed/" target="_blank">invited fans to vote</a> for its new in-stadium goal celebration song using Socios, a token-based voting and rewards platform, to ensure that the results wouldn't be sabotaged by rival fans or manipulated by hackers.</p>
Credit: Twitter<p>Fans overwhelmingly chose Blur's "Song 2," and were rewarded by <a href="https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-7868543/Juventus-fans-chose-iconic-Blur-track-goal-anthem-pioneering-blockchain-vote.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">hearing the song four times</a> in the first back-to-business game between Juventus and Cagliari. </p> <p>Socios has been doing some interesting work in the digital fan engagement realm beyond the Juventus example. Its parent company, Chiliz, partners with teams to issue blockchain-based, franchise-branded coins. Apollon Limassol FC decided to put on a head-to-head skills challenge between players, with <a href="https://medium.com/chiliz/apollon-fc-apl-fan-token-sells-out-in-6-minutes-generating-100k-f3bc6a98e75d" target="_blank">fans using tokens to vote</a> on the matchups. In esports, itself a social distancing-friendly concept, fans of Spanish team Heretics were able to vote on which players would go head to head in Fortnite death-matches.</p>
Encourage fans to connect together at home<p>Part of the beauty of sports is that it forges relationships. Season ticket holders connect with neighboring seatmates in the stadium; families bond over a shared love for their teams; friends come together to watch the big match and analyze it ceaselessly during and after the game.</p> <p>It's difficult to translate this to a situation where even private socializing is frowned upon, but it's not impossible. </p> <p>To build hype as the NFL season neared, Pepsi <a href="https://www.marketingdive.com/news/pepsi-delivers-tailgate-in-a-box-to-football-fans-hankering-for-game-day/584016/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">tapped into this demand</a> with a "Tailgate-in-a-box" kit that includes an outdoor projector and a range of Pepsi products. The kit is valued at $5,000 and was delivered to sweepstake winners, so it's unclear how this will translate into the general market, but the opportunity is clear. Pepsi is also experimenting with a "tailgate tour" that brings live music and outdoor games to fans viewing from home. </p> <p>The <a href="https://www.sportbusiness.com/2020/09/nba-leverages-microsoft-partnership-to-revolutionize-virtual-fan-experience/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">NBA led the way recently</a> by offering 320 fans the opportunity to "attend" games in the Orlando bubble. At-home viewers logged in through Microsoft Teams, and their streamed likenesses were beamed onto 17-foot video boards set up around the courts. The tech made it look like viewers were sitting next to each other, plus participants could interact with each other and see and hear their reactions in real time. The NBA has other plans to allow fans to chat during games, display a real-time statistical overlay, and introduce gaming elements as well. </p>
Credit: Instagram<p>Technological advances, including <a href="https://bigthink.com/what-would-it-take-to-create-a-fully-immersive-virtual-reality" target="_self">virtual reality</a> (VR) and augmented reality (AR), offer teams new ways to offer virtual fan experiences.</p> <p>Another option that could become very popular is <a href="https://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2020/05/27/virtual-reality-sports-fans-broadcasts/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">audio AR</a>. Powerful recording equipment picks up the minutiae of sounds that make up the audio backdrop of in-stadium viewing, and then broadcasts it to at-home viewers. AR allows the noise to grow louder or fainter as viewers "move" closer to or further away from the action. Brands can even add crowd sounds, like gasps at a near miss or the shouts of vendors, to enhance the experience. </p> <p>In Japan, an app called Remote Cheerer allowed fans to capture their real-time reactions to on-field action and actually play triggered sounds in the stadium, instead of the canned crowd noise we've hearing in our MLB, NFL and NHL telecasts. This type of solution keeps fans at home more engaged and makes even the passive TV watching experience more authentic.</p>