Ten years ago, Ellen Degeneres came out as a lesbian. Has any TV star done anything gutsier since? (Not that it should’ve been a career-risking move.)
Anyway, it might be coincidental, but since 1997 a lot of lesbian comics have put out albums. Some funnier than others, of course.
Here are a few samples from this golden age of lesbionic standup. Click the track titles to hear ’em streaming on my Vox audio stash.
1. “The Homo Depot” – Suzanne Westenhoefer
My choice for the best of the lesbian standups is Westenhoefer (pictured left). I remember one of her jokes from the early ’90s on the subject of super-absorbent tampons. (Punch line: “I’m thirsty.”)
I like her polished delivery, I like her stage personality, I like her observations of life. This bit is from her 1999 CD “I’m Not Cindy Brady.”
2. “WNBA” – Georgia Ragsdale
A lesbian who enjoys watching women’s pro basketball? Unbelievable.
Ragsdale doesn’t impress me as a comic, but this routine does provide a peek into the secret world of hot lesbian sex. (And no, I did not type the words “hot lesbian sex” just to attract Google hits.) From her 1997 CD “Always Forward, Never Straight.”
3. “Lesbian Sex Workshops” – Karen Williams
Williams (pictured center) has a rather harsh voice and a hard-sell comedic approach. But she tells some truth in this bit about being over 40. Actually, she had me at “butt plugs.” (And no, I did not type “butt plugs” just to attract Google hits.) From the 1998 CD “Human Beings: What a Concept.”
4. “Coming Out and Kung Pao” – Robin Greenspan
Coming-out-to-family stories tend to be bittersweet... if not plain bitter. There is hurt in Greenspan’s coming-out-to-mom story, but her gentle sense of humor morphs the pain into a pretty decent punch line. From the 2000 CD “Totally Naked.”
5. “Yak Yak in the Sack” – Marga Gomez
She started performing in gay clubs in the mid-’80s, while Ellen Degeneres was still in the closet. But Gomez (pictured right) didn’t release a comedy CD (“Hung Like a Fly”) till 1997... the year Ellen made lesbian comedians trendy.
Marga also acts and writes plays. And this “Yak Yak” routine illustrates her style, which feels a little more like theatrical monologue than pure standup. I kinda like her tough-talking New York Latin thing.