Like one of the characters in her off-Broadway play, “Stuffed,” Lisa Lampanelli jokes that during her dieting days — all three decades of them — she lost and regained some 300 pounds: “that’s 17 Sarah Jessica Parkers!”
But as the comedian tells The Post, “My food issues aren’t the same as everyone else’s.” And so the one-note show she started writing seven years ago became a fugue for four women’s voices: a size zero who can’t gain weight no matter how much she eats; a bulimic who binges and purges; a big woman comfortable in her own skin; and Lisa, the yo-yo dieter, played by Lampanelli herself.
“Stuffed,” which she calls a “Vagina Monologues” for the food-obsessed, uncovers the complicated feelings women have about their weight. For Lampanelli, it was all about finding the right diet — one that would take off the pounds she’d put on by eating her way through a crisis — and then feeling like a failure when she couldn’t keep the weight off. That struggle continued up until 2012, when she had gastric sleeve surgery. Though she’d long eschewed surgery as “the easy way out,” she found it had challenges of its own — and even led to her divorce.
“Food was love in my family,” says the 56-year-old, who grew up in a middle-class Italian family in Connecticut. “At college, alone for the first time ever, I self-medicated with food. No drugs, no booze … For any emotion that came up, food was the answer.”
Over lunch near the Westside Theatre, where “Stuffed” runs through Nov. 19, Lampanelli says that, all joking aside, she’s lost track of the pounds she’d lost and regained since she was 18 years old. She says her weight ranged between 112 and 248 pounds (her dress sizes from 2 to 24) as she tried one regime after another: Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, Nutrisystem … and a 500-calorie diet she says made her hair fall out and gave her boils.
“‘Two shakes a day and a sensible meal,’” she says, of one. “If I knew what a sensible meal was, I wouldn’t be this fat!”