And the new Celebrity Apprentice is…

not Clay Aiken.

Celebrity Apprentice host Donald Trump chose Arsenio Hall as the winner of the reality show, which does not come with an apprenticeship but only a stipend to the winner’s charity.

Aiken faced off against the former late-night talk show host in the final challenge, and raised nearly twice as much as Hall ($300,000+ versus $160,000+). The finale was mostly a love-fest, with Aiken and Hall touting the other graciously, and with more variety show than job interview for most of the episode. The majority of their fellow contestants seemed to endorse Aiken’s victory.

With this, the fifth “Celebrity” edition (and 12th overall cycle) in the series,  Aiken became the first openly gay finalist on the series; Hall became only the second African-American winner on the series.

This season showed a quality that the conservative, anti-same-sex-marriage insufferable blowhard Trump has not been known for: gay-inclusiveness (at least until the final moment). In addition to Aiken, the cast also included queer-friendly comedienne Lisa Lampanelli (who made it almost to the end and helped out Aiken near the end), Aiken duetist Dee Snider and liberal-minded magician Penn Jillette and most significantly gay icon George Takei from Star Trek, who was dismissed in episode 3 earlier this season.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

UPDATE: Lampanelli donates $50K to GMHC, world doesn’t end, and Camping recalculates

Lisa Lampanelli zings Westboro; Harold Camping gets it wrong again

Last Friday, I wrote here about how insult comic and “queen of mean” Lisa Lampanelli would be performing at the Topeka, Kansas Performing Arts Center, and how Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church loonies had announced they would protest outside the center because Lampanelli is pro-LGBT. So then Lampanelli announced she would donate $1,000 for every protester who showed to the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, an AIDS/HIV service organization in New York.

The Phelps clan did show up outside the Performing Arts Center, and Lampanelli’s people counted 44 of them. But the Westboro bunch claimed there were 48 protesters, so Lampanelli decided to donate $50,000. She is supposed to go to GMHC tomorrow (Wednesday) to present them with a check.

Below is an interview with Lampanelli published online today by The Village Voice in which she explains what led up to the situation in Topeka and how she even took her audience outside during the performance there to make fun of the Westboro protesters, including getting a gay couple to make out in front of them. Here’s video from the Village Voice website:

—  admin

Lampanelli fights Westboro hate with comedy — and with cash for the GMHC

Lisa Lampanelli

Comedian Lisa Lampanelli — known for her equal opportunity insults against every group, minority or not and known as well as an LGBT rights supporter, despite her gay jokes — is performing tonight in Topeka, Kan. And of course, Fred Phelps and his bunch of loony-tunes from Westboro Baptist Church have announced they plan to protest outside the Topeka Performing Arts Center while Lampanelli is performing inside.

Taking a page, perhaps, from Resource Center Dallas‘ playbook, Lampanelli has announced that for every protester who shows up tonight, she’ll donate $1,000 to New York’s Gay Men’s Health Crisis, the country’s oldest AIDS/HIV service organization.

This has the potential to be a big money maker for GMHC.

Last July, the Phelps clan protested outside Resource Center Dallas because that’s where the primarily LGBT Congregation Beth El Binah holds its services. (The Phelps Phools protested outside Dallas’ Holocaust Museum and the Jewish Community Center that same day.) But instead of asking counter-protesters to come out to face off against the Westboro Baptist group — which often uses such encounters to provoke counter-protesters into doing something the WBC folks can sue over), RCD asked people to pledge donations to the center for every minute the WBC protesters remained outside the center. RCD ended up with more than $10,000, money that was used to purchase a new freezer to store food for the center’s meals program.

Personally, I am not a big fan of Lampanelli’s brand of insult-based comedy. It’s just not my cup of tea. But if I lived anywhere near Topeka, I would damn sure buy a ticket and go see her show tonight. Because anybody willing to open up their own pocketbook to turn Westboro Baptist’s hate into a positive thing for a worthy cause is somebody I am willing to support.

—  admin

Leaner & meaner

LLFist2011-rs
THE BITCH IS BACK | Lisa Lampanelli slimmed down, married up, adopted a dog and released an new DVD, ‘Tough Love,’ left. It’s almost enough to make her nice …. nah.

Insult comic Lisa Lampanelli loves the gays despite her slurs. And she thinks Bill Maher was right about Sarah Palin. Gotta love that

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor
jones@dallasvoice.com

Since she was last in Dallas almost two years ago, shock comic Lisa Lampanelli has become a changed person. She’s slimmer and no longer wears frilly petticoats. She settled down and married her boyfriend, and he’s — get this — not black. She’s adopted a Yorkshire terrier mix puppy. She appears on the way to blissful domesticity. In fact the last time we talked, she called me a “big dirty homo.” This time, she was nice.

All of which led us to wonder: Has Lisa Lampanelli gone soft?

No fuckin’ way.

In her latest comedy special, Tough Love, Lampanelli rails on the gays in her audience, calling them bun splitters, tush ticklers, fudge nudgers, semen demons and “David Archuletta.”

But the truth is, she is a softie — in her own way.

“I love the cornholers,” she says. “If you hate gays, get out — you’re not allowed to be my friend anymore. Without the gays, who would watch Bravo TV? Without the gays, who would run Bravo TV? Without the gays, who would say ‘Bravo!’?”

Screen shot 2011-04-28 at 3.54.09 PMBut married life — and quasi-parenthood (she adopted a puppy) — have brought out a different side to her.

“It’s hard to justify being ‘I was edgy and suddenly I’m transformed.’ But there’s enough crap that pisses me off every single day. What has softened me a little is we adopted this 7-lb. Yorkie. Jimmy brings him on stage and I turn into the biggest fag in the world. We named him Parker, after Sarah Jessica Parker because they’re both ugly-cute.”

One other thing: She’s beginning to develop a (gulp!) conscience.

“I don’t know what it is about aging, but I’ve begun to think, ‘Maybe I hurt her feelings —I hope not.’ I feel terrible if I make a joke about someone, like Sarah Jessica Parker, whose not an asshole but a really nice person.” She even met the Kardashians after mocking them for years, only to be charmed by them in person.

“They were so goddamn nice to me, it took me four years to work up the nerve to do jokes about them again,” she says.

Some celebs, though, she doesn’t worry about pissing off, as the closing “roast” on her comedy special will attest.

“I loved doing that,” Lampanelli says. “I had all these great jokes about all these idiots in the entertainment field — and I use that term loosely — that I would never get to do, so I just let loose.”

She had one of her most surreal experiences when she recently did The Comedy Central Roast of Donald Trump with Jersey Shore’s Mike “The Situation” Sorentino, whose routine was such a bomb, you could hear crickets chirping.

Lisa-Lampanelli140“Did you see that train wreck?” she squeals. “You thought it was painful for you guys to watch? Imagine being there. It wasn’t fun to watch. It’s weird to watch somebody bomb, even if you don’t like that person. But what is stupid about him is, he’s so delusional he comes up to me  after and says, ‘That went pretty well, right?’”

Lampanelli has been on the receiving end of barbs for herself, and she admits the jokes can get brutal.

“It’s always a struggle. You get made fun of for certain categories — they never say unfunny or dumb because I’m clearly funny and really smart. For me, it’s fat and ugly. They will be like ‘that fat cunt’ unless I am a size 6. My favorite one ever was when Artie Lange was at his obese, ugliest worst and he said, ‘Someone came up to me and said, ‘Aren’t you Lisa Lampanelli?’”

It’s one reason she has no sympathy for Sarah Palin when Bill Maher called her a cunt.

“People are so fucking stupid,” she says with the decorum that has made her a hit at christenings and golden wedding anniversaries. “Choice of words is the most ridiculous thing to attack when we have freedom of speech. I hate the Westboro Baptist Church, but letting them have GodHates Fags.com allows me to do what I do. And Sarah Palin is a cunt, by the way. I’m just sad I didn’t get in more trouble when I called her a ‘retard producer.’”

The reason Lampanelli’s acts works is because she’s an equal opportunity offender. And that only works when people laugh at themselves.

“Hispanics in general are very much more open with a sense of humor about themselves than other groups. Gays are great, of course. A few Asians will laugh it up at gay and black jokes and then I say ‘chink’ and they say, ‘No, that’s going too far.’ The jokes I get in trouble for are autism and retarded kid jokes. But people have come to me to say, ‘My kid is autistic; thanks for including us.’ It’s the least form of prejudice. If you’re gonna make fun of blacks, Asians and gays, you gotta laugh at everybody.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 29, 2011.

 

—  Kevin Thomas

Bill Maher at the Winspear on Sunday night: ‘Your new theater isn’t gonna be clean for long’

Bill Maher

I’ve seen Kathy Griffin perform live, and Joan Rivers and Lisa Lampanelli and Chris Rock — and they are all hilarious and edgy and daring comics who say outrageous things and go places that scare a lot of other comedians — but none of them can hold a candle to Bill Maher. Bill Maher is a shock comic who doesn’t say things just to shock: He says them because they are true.

Last night, at the Winspear Opera House, Maher spoke the truth for a nearly two-hour set, and, in my mind, established himself as the pre-eminent political commentator of a generation. He’s a comedian, too, of course. But really, he’s a voice.

The concert played out more like a rally than a comedian’s concert. “Your new theater isn’t gonna be clean for long,” Maher joked early in the set, before letting loose a parade of F-bombs and angry rants that touched on some easy pop targets (Justin Beiber, Mel Gibson, Charlie Sheen), but were most concerned with weighty issues including gay marriage (Maher said people in the military and the clergy have managed to scare people into thinking that just the sight of gay people will make you gay — in other words, “cock is like dessert at a restaurant — it’s what they’re known for, maybe I should try it”); Democrats’ wishy-washy leadership (when 75 percent of the American public supported repealing the ban on gays in the military, it “was still not enough political cover for these pussies”); his avowed atheism and even Lee Harvey Oswald (“Oh, yes, I went there — even in this town,” said the former North Texas resident).

It’s that fearlessness — he acknowledged that some people would probably be uncomfortable with some of his remarks about religion, not to mention calling Sarah Palin a “cunt” (“there’s just no other word for her”) — that makes Maher the most dangerous person in comedy. He’s painfully well-informed, which means he takes no bullshit from anyone. President Barack Obama took it on the chin almost as much as Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck. How dare the President say he would not settle for America being No. 2 — America is already out of the top 10 in most international lifestyle and human rights categories (health care, education, social mobility, women in high political positions). “I’d be thrilled if we were No. 2,” he ranted, noting it’s nice to be behind Bosnia in life expectancy (where the chief cause of death is wolfman attacks, he joked).

Every single Republican in the U.S. Senate, he noted, refuses to acknowledge the legitimacy of global warming. One of the reasons for this, he said, is that oil is very macho: “You’ve got to drill and take it. Wind is a very gay way to get our energy. It’s drill baby drill, not blow baby blow.”

Maher kicked off the evening, though, in defense of the gays, before a largely gay (and certainly gay-friendly) audience, and came back to it time and again. “Tea-baggers have taken a gay sex act — one man dragging his balls across another man’s face — and somehow turned it into something tawdry and disgusting.” Obama was criticized for demanding additional “readiness studies” before repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell” (“How do they conduct those studies?” he wondered. “Johnson, get in here and blow me while I fire this rifle at a target and we’ll compare my scores to before”). His assaults on George W. Bush, the oil industry and all religion (especially the Mormons, though), was particularly pointed in Bible Belt Texas, where even flamers go to church every week. But that’s exactly what I loved about him. You don’t have to agree with everything he says to respect the way he says it — not just to be humorous but to make you think. If our politicians were so brave, we might not be in such deep shit. (Thanks to John Wright for writing down some of the jokes!)

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

PREVIEW: ‘Real Housewives of D.C.’ is another round of ‘Lifestyles of the Bitch and Shameless’

My review of the new season of Flipping Out will appear in the print edition Friday, but Bravo has been debuting its new seasons and series all week … too many to do at one time. As the newest Real Housewives incarnation — set in Washington — debuts officially this Thursday, I figured I’d preview it here.

Truth be told, I am not a regular watcher of the Real Housewives franchise (which, last year, led Lisa Lampanelli to question my gayness), so it’s difficult to compare for the faithful. As a practical matter, I don’t see what makes the pampered bitches on all these shows “real” at all. They deal with tragedies such as which 4-star hotel to stay in and how to hire a nanny for when the kids are home from boarding school. How about women looking for work at McDonald’s and bailing junior out of juvie? That’s the show I wanna see. But I digress.

The Real Housewives of D.C. is probably no better nor worse than the others, although it has the added pressure of being about my hometown area. So when Mary, in the opening scene, declares herself a “native of Washington” then admits to living in suburban Virginia, you know they have at least captured the pretentiousness of those who think of themselves as elites. That’s pretty delish.

But then, you have to endure them doing the same Lifestyles of the Bitch and Shameless shtick over and over again. Polo matches. Fashion shoots. Birthday parties. More bleached hair than a Lauderdale salon on top of waifishly thin but ageing and dress-inappropriate social x-rays. The entirety of the show, and all these shows, is how artificial they seem. You don’t believe a word of it, and even the catfights feel scripted. (A biometric lock on a closet? Who really paid for that?)

My tolerance for watching on TV people who I wouldn’t care to talk to in real life must be too low. I don’t get why people are addicted to these shows. If you do, maybe you can explain them to me. Yawn.

Premieres on Bravo Aug. 5 at 8 p.m.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones