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How America’s ‘queen of mean’ fixed my fat brain


I lost 20 pounds when I was a kid and magically girls started flirting with me — but I refused to ask them out because I thought, “Where were you when I was fat?”

My whole life, I thought that chip on my shoulder was justified. Until last week. That’s when Lisa Lampanelli fixed my fat brain.

Yes, I got good (free) therapy from the insult comic known as the “Queen of Mean,” who performs a new hour of jokes Friday and Saturday at The Venetian.

Lampanelli just lost 100 pounds after having gastric sleeve surgery in 2012. She said it’s not just a weight issue when a large person gets ignored.

“I wouldn’t blame someone for not dating me. I don’t think it’s the weight. I think it’s the lack of confidence I brought to it,” Lampanelli said.

When I heard her say that, I thought, “She’s right. Those girls correctly read my wounded confidence and body language.”

“Anytime I didn’t get asked out by someone, I don’t go to, ‘It’s because I’m overweight.’ It’s because, ‘Wow, they didn’t think I was worthy,’ ” Lampanelli said. “I don’t blame them. I want to date people who feel they’re worthy. Instead of blaming other people, I think it’s better to blame myself, because I’m right.”

Lampanelli pointed out we all know big people who exude genuine confidence and win the guy or girl of their dreams.

“My brother-in-law was always a big guy,” Lampanelli said. “My sister married him. She didn’t care what his weight was. He just always had confidence. That’s attractive.”

Lampanelli had confidence when she was larger.

“I’ve never been angry about not getting attention when I was overweight, because I always had boyfriends,” Lampanelli said.

It’s also not fair to blame other people for our own issues of self-worth, she said.

“You should have dated all those cheerleaders,” she said, but she cut me a break because, “When you’re a kid, that’s how you think.”

Having said all that, Lampanelli is grateful to herself for actively keeping her mind straight, hour by hour, day to day, to stay healthy.

“I’m working every day not to screw it up. It’s easy to screw up. It’s so wrought with emotion. It can go backward so quick,” Lampanelli said.

I said, “We’ve all seen that person who has lost a ton of weight and maybe got the surgery, and flash-forward to six years later, and it’s all back. It’s more of a health issue.”

“Yeah, the yo-yo is definitely not healthy,” she said. “A lot of people get surgery and then screw it up. I’m trying not to let that happen.”

Lampanelli reaches out to a support system of a handful of friends she can call at a moment’s notice whenever she feels like her mind wants her to eat the pain away.

“Also, I go to the shrink every week,” Lampanelli said. “I go to food addiction retreats, workshops, stuff like that. I don’t leave any stone unturned, because to gain the weight back wouldn’t be doing myself any favors, healthwise or self-esteem wise. I wouldn’t be as happy as I am now.”

Lampanelli and I have similar feeding structures.

“I work on it from, ‘Why do I eat?’ ” she said. “I eat when I’m hungry. I stop when I’m full. And I try not to eat out of emotion.”

I said, “The thing a lot of people don’t realize is, if you’re addicted to drugs, you have to stop doing drugs, but if you’re addicted to food, you still have to eat food.”

“Yeah, it’s not cold turkey. You can’t just stop,” she said.

Lampanelli is excited to play Las Vegas this weekend to tell fans about her past year, including the weight loss, a divorce and a one-woman Broadway show this fall.

Lampanelli’s life, despite the heat of menopause, is “cool lately,” she said. “I like it. I like when everything’s positive.”

That isn’t the sentiment I expected to hear from the reigning insult comic of our time. But we all grow emotionally, if we work at it.

Doug Elfman’s column appears Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Email him at delfman@reviewjournal.com. He blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman.