Food and body image issues are no laughing matter.
Unless you’re Lisa Lampanelli.
For 30 years, the comic has won raves (and laughs) talking about — among other things — what she eats and how she looks. She’s been on Comedy Central, Jay Leno’s “Tonight Show,” and Howard Stern.
Lampanelli sold out Radio City Music Hall and Carnegie Hall. She raised $130,000 for Gay Men’s Health Crisis on “Celebrity Apprentice.”
Six years ago, she had bariatric surgery. She lost more than 100 pounds.
Westport is an important part of Lampanelli’s story. After majoring in journalism at Syracuse University, then working for Rolling Stone and Spy magazines, she changed careers. She followed her heart, and became a stand-up comedian.
Lampanelli lived in New Haven, but honed her skills at Saugatuck’s Treehouse Comedy Club. Revered by comics, it drew talent like Jim Gaffigan from as far as New York City.
In fact, Lampanelli says, its Wednesday night open mics were “better than any New York club.”
As for audiences, “Westport wasn’t ‘Westport’ back in the ’90s, It didn’t seem as wealthy. People went out every night and had fun.”
At the Treehouse, Lampanelli, Gaffigan and her fellow comedians learned how to work each crowd. They tested material and deliveries.
And after every Wednesday show, they headed to the Sherwood Diner. There they hashed over what worked, what didn’t, and why. They came up with new jokes, too.
“There was so much camaraderie,” Lampanelli recalls.
Four months ago, she moved from New York to Fairfield. She feels as if she’s “come back home.”
But she’s moved back — and on — from pure comedy.
In 2015 — after earning a 2nd Grammy nomination for her stand-up special “Back to the Drawing Board” — Lampanelli realized that her radically different look and true stories of weight-loss struggles resonated with fans. Many fight similar battles.
She wrote “Stuffed.” The play motivated fans to embrace a healthier life through self-love and self-acceptance. It enjoyed 2 off-Broadway runs.
That inspired Lampanelli to shed her image as insult comic. She vowed to help others through storytelling events, workshops and 1-on-1 coaching.
The result is a double helping for area audiences.
“Lisa Lampanelli’s Losin’ It” makes its world debut this Saturday (November 3, Fairfield Theatre Company, 3 p.m. and 8 p.m.) The 90-minute storytelling show features Lampanelli and a cast of actors, storytellers and surprise guests. Their credits include “The Daily Show,” Sirius XM radio and “Orange is the New Black.”
A generous helping of the proceeds benefit The Center for Family Justice in Bridgeport.
A week later (Saturday, November 10, Liphe Balance Center, Weston, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.), Lampanelli offers “Love Your Body, Feed Your Soul: From Starving & Stuffed to Fulfilled & Enough.”
The day-long workshop — co-led with yoga instructor Thea Martin — uses storytelling, sharing, meditation, journaling, brainstorming, deep listening, and self-reflection, to help participants end their obsessions with food and body image.
Plenty of men, as well as women, have already signed up for the Weston event.
That’s no laughing matter.
Then again, with Lisa Lampanelli, it is.