“I’ve been on the road for 30 years”


Suzanne Westenhoefer is a stereotype-shattering lesbian stand-up comedian from the US. Best known for her hilarious brutal honesty, she has recently performed at resort festival Etheridge Island, hosted by icon LGBTQI icon and rock legend Melissa Etheridge. Media partnering with the event, DIVA Publisher Linda Riley sat down for an exclusive interview. Interested? Read on to find out more about Suzanne’s favourite Melissa Etheridge song, her career as a queer comic and an encounter with k.d. lang.

DIVA: How are you enjoying Etheridge Island?

Suzanne: It’s my first one and it’s a little overwhelming! It’s been pretty awesome, all the people that work on this vacation have been fantastic!

DIVA: Apart from your own show, what’s been the highlight of the festival so far?

Suzanne: I think I’m a little bit biased on this, but I think it was Ani Difranco because she’s 10 years younger than I am and 20 years ago we did a couple of shows together and she turned 30 and she didn’t have people there because she was on the road. I spent a couple of hours with her for her birthday and now she’s like my fake daughter, she doesn’t know this, we never see each other but I always think of her that way. But I’ve enjoyed everything!

DIVA: Are you a Melissa Etheridge fan as well?

Suzanne: Oh my god, well I’m an old school fan! I was told to buy that album by someone who was singing with Chris Williamson at a concert in Boston and that was 1989, that was that red album with her and the guitar. She was still underground.

DIVA: Was she out then?

Suzanne: No, I was standing beside her in 1993 at the Press club when she came out and then K.D lang came out. I was like *gasps*, oh my God!

DIVA: What’s your favourite Melissa Etheridge song?

Suzanne: Bring Me Some Water is always the first, right? But I have a penchant for I Can See Why You Drive. It feels like an old school folk song from festivals.

DIVA: You’ve had an amazing career as a comedian. What’s the best thing about your job and what’s the most challenging?

Suzanne: The best thing is I get to make people laugh for a living, so it’s a lot of joy. I grew up in a factory town I know how people really make living and I’m so lucky that this is what I get to do. I’ve been on the road for 30 years. The most challenging has been getting older and airline travel has been psycho bad in the past year, two years.

DIVA: Do you still love it as much as thirty years ago?

Suzanne: Yes! Isn’t that crazy? I really do, I love meeting people and everything. I’ve never not loved it!

DIVA: What has been your most memorable gig and why?

Suzanne: There have been a bunch, but one at the original Yankees stadium was after the end of the gay games in I think ‘94 and there were musicians, Cyndi Lauper, big names. I was on a stage on second base in Yankee Stadium filled with 60,000 people and I was doing my stand-up. I’d only been doing it for two or three years and I was getting screaming applauses. Turning and seeing myself on a giant jumbo-tron like I was Madonna. That moment was incredible. I was at the march in Washington and that was in 1992 or 1993, and I was one of the MCs for two hours going out to one million people. Those moments, nothing can beat those.

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