Stand-up comedian Suzanne Westenhoefer tells the truth. That’s why she could never be in the closet, even as she stepped out on stage as a comedian in the 1990s. Suzanne experienced her big shift at 29 years old when she was an aspiring actress working as a bartender. After one of her regulars urged her to try her hand at stand-up over a Finlandia martini, Suzanne was skeptical but entered an open mic contest.
She easily won… and hasn’t stopped making people laugh since!
As an out lesbian comic, Suzanne has been a true pioneer in the industry, opening new doors and shattering stereotypes for decades. She was the first openly lesbian comedian to appear on Late Night with David Letterman and to have an HBO Special. In this conversation, we talk about Suzanne’s incredible legacy, her current big goals, and one unforgettable road trip of a lifetime!
Press play to discover:
- How Suzanne built up a career as a full-time comedian and the challenges she faced during her shift from New York City bartender to Hollywood entertainer
- The behind-the-scenes journey to Suzanne’s groundbreaking and influential HBO Special — and why the gay press ignored it
- Why playing bigger on your own terms can inspire big shifts in those around you
Guest bio: No one ever accused Suzanne Westenhoefer of being subtle — certainly not her audiences. After 25 years of groundbreaking, stereotype-shattering, and brutally honest comedy, she is not about to start pulling punches now. The kid from Amish Country who began her comedy career on a dare is celebrating a quarter century of out, open, no-holds-barred comedy.
02:07 Meet Suzanne Westenhoefer
03:09 Suzanne’s big shift into comedy
08:00 “She’s going to be a lesbian & you’d better be nice”
10:01 Professional jealousy & homophobia
15:00 First out lesbian with an HBO special
19:23 HBO Special legacy
21:38 Road trip story
26:33 When you play big, others play big
28:39 Broadway & drama
29:42 The Ellen effect
32:57 Comedy, business & homophobia
36:19 Pandemic shift
38:24 Next shifts