Lesbian comic Suzanne Westenhoefer keeps nothing off limits with her brand of funny
at Youth Orchestra Hall,
4401 Trail Lake Drive, Fort Worth
April 10 at 8 p.m. $20â€“$40
Depending on whether she counts from the first time she hit the stage or the first time she got paid to perform standup, Suzanne Westenhoefer has been making people laugh for 17, maybe 18 years — in other words, a long time.
With an upcoming performance in Fort Worth Saturday, she fought through a weeklong bout of laryngitis to chat about gay cruises, Kathy Griffin and what one question she just loves to ask people.
Dallas Voice: Sorry to hear about your voice. You don’t exactly have the career where you can be quiet. Westenhoefer: Or the reputation! I’ve already lost it so many times and it’s just because I can’t just shut up and relax and let it heal. It’s not just my way.
You’ve performed in Texas a lot. What do you like about audiences here? Everybody comes out to play and party and laugh. People come out dressed and ready to have fun. I don’t know how to explain it, they’re like, "Let’s do this! Let’s get our boots on and make plans for after the show!" That’s not really the case in every city.
I see you’re performing on Walt Disney property this summer. Does that change your act? I don’t change, no. I don’t change for where I am, but I do change for events. Like, if you’re doing an HRC dinner and the governor’s there, you know what I mean? I’m raised right, I’m not going to break out all my four-letter words.
So you have a censor button for the right occasions. Well, you know, I wouldn’t censor myself in general and change it for straight or gay, for example. But I would definitely use my common sense. If people are all dressed up and there’s a dinner and politicians, yes, I would take it down a notch. But I think that’s appropriate. I think everybody would.
Except for maybe Kathy Griffin. Oh no, I’ve seen her at an HRC dinner here in Los Angeles. And you know, she absolutely pulled it down. She was very somber about some friends of hers who are in Afghanistan right now. She’s actually a very good egg. I know she’s said in the past an occasional quote-unquote "inappropriate" thing, but come on, she’s a comic. Oh, she said something inappropriate at the Emmys. You know what? The Emmys are not the inauguration. Let’s be real. It’s just a big, ol’ made-up, fabulous awards show. Go for it.
Speaking of inappropriate, describe what fans can expect from your "Totally Inappropriate" Tour. Apparently, other people think that the things I say are inappropriate. I’m the kind of person who will maybe sort of ask you what you paid for something. I’m the kind of person who would ask you how many people you’ve had sex with. It was suggested that maybe they write up a list of topics I’m not allowed to say at dinner. But I happen to think they’re perfectly normal, interesting questions.
"How many people have you had sex with?" is definitely a great icebreaker for someone you’re meeting for the first time. Right? That’s like one of my favorite questions in the whole world. When did you come out? How old were you? How many people have you had sex with? Have you had sex with both genders? I think those are, like, super-fun, fabulous questions. For some reason, apparently, according to many, many people, those are not appropriate questions.
I’m often surprised how sensitive and easily offended some gay people can be. I always just assume that we’re all kind of Teflon-coated and the raunchier the better. Isn’t it a bummer? It’s like when you find out that gay people are conservative or Republican or extremely Catholic or Christian and you go, "Oh my God. I forgot." We always say that we’re everywhere and then we realize we really are everywhere. We really are all kinds of people. I thought that was just part of our propaganda. I didn’t realize we were going to be diverse like that! It’s uncomfortable.
Are there any topics that are off limits to you? Rape is a big one for me. I think mostly you don’t want to say anything that is so offensive that it’s not funny and if you don’t know that line, you’re not a good comic. Comics can make mistakes. We can think something’s funny or just blurt out something. We can be wrong.
There’s that fine line between something being hilarious or just completely imploding. Right, for someone like me. I don’t practice, I don’t rehearse, I don’t write it down. It comes to me when I’m onstage, I think it, and I say it. It’s not like I tested it on 20 people before I said it. If it’s not funny, I step away from that.
You perform on a lot of gay cruises. Which do you like better, all-women or all-men? I’ve done quite a few, but I haven’t done as many as I used to. I want to do another boy one, because gosh darn it, it’s fun to be on a ship with 3,000 fags —I’m with gay girls all the freakin’ time. [Laughs] When you’re on a gay male ship, and you’re one of like 20 women, gay guys will completely focus on you.
I love the attention.
Sweet, a new lesbian travel company, launched their first cruise last November. How was it? It was awesome. We got hit by a hurricane and still had a blast.
If there’s a natural disaster thrown into a gay cruise… Yeah, nothing bonds the queers more than a natural disaster.
So what’s next, besides tour stops in fabulous places like Hawaii? Yeah, what a bitch it is to be me! I’ll be continuing the tour. We’ll soon be filming the third season [of the Internet show We Have to Stop Now] and I have to feed my cat because, as we’re talking, he’s been jumping on me and then jumping off. Then he’s putting his face right up in mine. Now he’s knocking shit off my desk, which means, get off the phone, get up, feed me. He’s bitchy.
The gays bring the funny back for a third time around
Whatever happened with Fitzwilliam and his intent search for a vagina? Will Maya Angelou continue her inspiring readings from Craigslist’s Missed Connections? And will Super Liza save the day for the gays again?
For fans of those recurring characters, the answers will hopefully lie in the new season of the Big Gay Sketch Show. Logo TV and producer Rosie O’ Donnell bring back the comedy show for a third time around after a strangely long hiatus.
Perhaps that’s what happens when you put eight gay (and non-gay) funny people in a room.
This season’s cast is one less with the departure of Erica Ash. We’re gonna miss foul-mouthed fitness instructor LaTanya and old school lesbian Grandma Bell. That’s OK, because Kate McKinnon’s Fitzwilliam and Colman Domingo’s Maya Angelou are just some of the characters we’ve come to love and laugh at.
The Big Gay Sketch Show season 3 premieres, April 13 at 9 p.m. on Logo. LogoTV.com.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 9, 2010.