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Funny Night Out for Lesbian Comic

February 12, 1996|JOHN ROOS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO — The label "lesbian comedian" could close more doors than it opens. Perceptions can lead to questions, such as: Will her routine focus exclusively on homosexuality?

And will heterosexuals in the house feel targeted, or at least uncomfortably like outsiders?

But when Suzanne Westenhoefer, one of the most prolific gay performers around, played the Coach House on Friday night, these became nonissues. She urged those in her audiences to be themselves and to respect the differences in others, as she presented herself with a sense of pride and purpose.

During her open and freewheeling 85-minute show, she spent most but not all her time delving into her own experiences as a lesbian in a straight world, bringing depth and insight to her act by capturing the universality of emotions that lie at the heart of all interpersonal relations.

Specific topics included smoking and driving habits, talk radio and the overall lack of justice in L.A. Early on, she nailed our media-created obsession to fight the natural process of aging: "You know, when you're 20, you can go work out for four hours and leap home from the gym. But when you're 40 and work out for 15 minutes, you can't even get the key in your front door." Her willingness to poke fun at herself, and at lesbians as a group, lent a welcome disarming quality to the show.

Domestic issues wove their way in and out of her monologue, from putting up with annoying pets to manicuring lawns to shopping for food: "My girlfriend has no clue how food got to the house. Can you believe I sent her to the grocery store for milk, and she actually came back and said she couldn't find it?"

Relations with Mom and Dad can be a tad rocky, she noted. She said she went home for Thanksgiving "because I needed new material."

She saved some of her funniest material for last, closing with astute observations about lesbian sex and the movies. The only misfire was an overlong, giddy story of her adventures at an Elton John concert with a group that included Martina Navratilova.

In a misguided but brief opening set, comedian Elvira Kurt wasted time bashing her immigrant parents. She raised more intriguing subjects--the purity of children, the unsexy quality of Canadian winters--but left them sadly undeveloped.

Her willingness to poke fun at herself, and at lesbians as a group, lent a welcome disarming quality to the show.

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