"Guaranteed Fresh" is
100% all new material and the third comedy CD from
"I'm very comfortable confronting and bearing my
soul. For some people, the thought of that is
terrifying, and they would rather be dead. but this
is the easiest thing I've ever done. I've worked in
factories, I've bartended in New York, I've lugged
stuff around -- I know what Hard work is. This is
the easiest thing I've ever done in the world. This
is me being me and getting paid for it." -- Suzanne
"... like having coffee with your best, funniest
girlfriend, the one who can make you laugh even on
your worst day."
-- Bruce C. Steele, The Advocate
before Ellen and Rosie, Suzanne Westenhoefer
belonged to an elite club of funny ladies who dared
to be gay out of the gate. Since 1990, the riotous,
openly lesbian blonde comic has made audiences—on
land and water—cry from laughing. And she’s never
put her sexual orientation on the back burner for an
audience’s comfort level.
Before she rose to
her status as a recognizable comic darling for the
gay and lesbian community, she tossed her spot-on
ruminations of everyday life on to straight
audiences. And she’s still around to tell about it!
With a 1994 HBO
special, annual summer sit-down gigs in
Provincetown, Mass., nationwide tours and countless
gay and lesbian cruises under her belt buckle,
Westenhoefer was one of four pioneering lesbian
comics—including Kate Clinton, Karen Williams and
Marga Gomez—who inspired Andrea Meyerson’s
documentary Laughing Matters More.
The always funny and
slightly acerbic Westenhoefer—having appeared on
David Letterman—also holds the hallowed title of
being the first out lesbian comic to perform her
material on a nighttime talk show. But the modern
day “funny lady” has a serious side too.
She and her partner
of12 years recently got hitched. Despite
Westenhoefer’s penchant for making folks laugh,
she’s worried about the state of politics in the age
of Bush and a possible complacency in the era of
proliferating gay-centric media. LesbiaNation had a
chance to pick this makes-your-tummy-hurt comic
mastermind’s brain about her work methods, politics,
television and tops and bottoms.
Congratulations on your recent commitment ceremony.
Did you have a big tadoo with a banquet hall and the
It was here in the house. It was very LA. We wore
LN: I’m guessing you
mean thong shoes. You’re always on the road or on a
cruise ship. Where could you have possibly gone for
SW: I travel 100,000
miles every year. A honeymoon wasn’t our first
LN: You’re originally
an East coaster, how have you adjusted to LA life?
SW: This whole east
coast / west coast thing. We’re indoctrinated to not
like LA, like in New York, Philly, Boston… we come
out here with a chip on our shoulder. Now I can’t
imagine living anywhere else. The weather, the
people, the $40 hamburgers.
LN: Yeah, you’ve been
here for several years now. Are you near Hollywood
or closer to the beach?
SW: Hollywood, at the
base of the hills. I bought a Craftsman house about
five years ago. It’s cute. It’s a bungalow.
LN: Remind me of when
you began doing stand-up.
SW: 1990, near the
end of the year.
LN: I saw you in
Provincetown around that time. You made me laugh so
hard my stomach hurt and I had tears streaming down
SW: I started playing
P-Town in 1993.
LN: Oh yeah. I guess
it was later. You’re so hilarious and seemingly
impervious to the audience around you? Have you
devised an onstage persona to help you through your
SW: What you see on
stage is what I really I am. What I do on stage is
me. I do know some comics who are like that.
LN: You mean, who
create a persona?
SW: Yeah, but this is
LN: You pluck such
plumbs of hilarity from every day life. Do you find
yourself taking notes at family gatherings and
SW: I’ll tell you a
secret. I don’t write material. I have an idea that
I may or may not talk about and stories that I need
LN: That’s gotta be
scary. So you riff? That’s admirable. How?
SW: It happens. It’s
in my head. It’s like a separate thing. Some comics
write down ideas and tell jokes at small clubs. I
have none of that. If you’ve seen my show, it’s
never the same.
LN: Aside from
sitting down in P-Town and hitting the road
extensively, you’re like Queen of the gay and
lesbian cruises. How do the gay male cruises compare
to the lesbian trips?
SW: For one thing, on
the boy’s ship they have volunteers making sure guys
aren’t fucking all over the ship. It’s called “Penis
LN: I guess you don’t
need that on a lesbian-heavy ship.
SW: The boys party
and we have to see everything in every port. Either
way it’s fun, fun, fun.
LN: How do the two
crowds vary in response to your act?
SW: Gay men are the
best audience for anybody. I started out performing
for straight people. That was scary, scary. Then I
started doing Gay Prides and it was always the guys
that were the best audiences. But it’s the lesbians
that drive to see me.
LN: As an openly
lesbian comic who continually churns out fresh
material, do you consider yourself political?
SW: I’m an extreme
liberal. But I don’t make an effort to create
LN: How are your
liberal sensibilities handling another year of Bush
and the Iraq war?
SW: Maybe it’s just
me. I’m horrified and appalled and trying not to cry
every day. I’m counting… just counting down the
LN: Until he’s out of
SW: Yeah, I thought
the Reagan years were bad. Back then we marched. We
LN: You kick-started
your career at the end of the Reagan era and at the
start of the Clinton years, so you’ve had an arena
for comment. How has the GLBT community changed
since Reagan? Are we more complacent?
SW: It’s easier to
just be out, which is good and bad. We’re so
comfortable. We don’t feel a need to get riled up
for anything. After the second time Bush took
office. I say, “took” office… I wondered why I
didn’t get out there and march. I marched a lot in
LN: What do you think
SW: We’ve lost our
gay leaders. People are afraid to be leaders.
There’s no support for it. Now we force famous
people to be as gay as possible.
LN: You mean like
Rosie on The View? She’s pretty out and outspoken.
SW: Rosie is so gay
and we criticize her. People say she seems really
strident. Pick, pick, pick.
LN: Damned if she
does, damned if she doesn’t. Speaking of gay
representation, we’re mid-season through The L Word.
Do you watch?
SW: We watch The L
Word. My girlfriend loves it. It’s fun as shit to
knock it, to love it, to hate it. It’s created a lot
LN: And that’s a good
LN: Which is wild.
SW: You can’t ask for
what it isn’t.
LN: What’s your type.
Are any of the L Word characters you’re type?
SW: I like a sporty,
butchy girl. But those girls on The L Word. Dana…
she made Chris Evert look like Martina.
LN: Do your fans hit
on you because you’re a funny gal and a celebrity?
SW: I don’t get hit
on. Maybe by weird people, like middle-aged,
married. It keeps my girlfriend in her comfort zone.
LN: What’s the
wackiest proposition you’ve ever gotten from a fan?
SW: The weirdest one
I ever had was an email from a gal who wanted me to
be her date for a wedding she was going to. She
wanted to show her ex-girlfriend who was going to be
there that she was doing great. Isn’t the
ex-girlfriend going to know I’m not with her?
LN: I imagine you
don’t remember but I met you at East West Grill one
night and somehow we got into a lengthy discussion
about topping and bottoming.
SW: That’s 50-percent
of what I talk about.
originally appeared on LesbiaNation.com.