Talking With Cameron Esposito About Her New Album, Chicago, and Bowie!

cameron esposito new album same sex symbol

Photos by Mandee Johnson

Cameron Esposito has been called “the future of comedy” by Jay Leno, and has made practically everyone’s “comics to watch” lists (Time Out, LA Weekly,Flavorwire, Cosmopolitan, The Chicago Reader, The Portland Mercury to name a few).”  She’s outspoken in her life and in her comedy about being a lesbian.   If you have your own preconceptions about what you think she and her comedy are about, she will challenge them.  Her new album, “Same Sex Symbol” contains her own unique take on the universe, and the people in it. Tough but warm, contagiously amused by the ridiculous behavior she encounters in the universe, and a true style icon in the making, we agree with everyone who calls Cameron Esposito a comedian to keep your eye on.  Today (October 7) she’s releasing her second album, which you can purchase at killrockstars.com. We talked with Cameron about the new album, why Portland is such a great comedy city, and why she’s channeling David Bowie as part of her album release.


 

The IBang:  Congratulations on your second album! That’s got to be exciting.
Cameron Esposito:  Thanks, I’m really psyched about it.  This one feels really good.

The IBang:  What made you pick Portland as the place to record it?
Cameron Esposito:  Portland is a great city for comedy because there’s a huge counterculture and art scene and people are really — its civic-ly active and a lot of community involvement.  Then at the same time, because there isn’t a ton of industry there– it’s not New York or LA– there aren’t always comics in town.  There’s this nice balance of really big art scene, but also people think its exciting and special when you come through.  They have a great local comedy scene there too, but I just mean that you can’t live there forever and make a living.  Denver is like that too, with this great Venn diagram overlap of ‘really interested in comedy’ and don’t have enough at home.  It’s really nice to go to the bigger cities that are small enough to feel homey, especially if there’s a hip element.

CameronEsposito_By-Mandee-Johnson.red_The IBang:  I’ve seen the art that goes along with the album, and the press photo.  Is there a Bowie tie in?
Cameron Esposito: I was thinking about a title and an aesthetic.  And something that I don’t know that we’ve seen yet from a lesbian in the comedy world, is being okay with and advocating for ones own sexiness.  Especially since I do kind of play with androgeny a little bit in my look and also my voice and my energy, and the thing about Ellen– she’s a real good time gal.  She’s perfect for families and so I just think that now we’re on to that next movement where I don’t think I have to play down who I am.  Most people will talk to me as if– because I’m not specifically trying to catch the attention of men, then I’m not trying to be attractive– and that’s not true.  I get lots of attention from dudes, but more specifically from chicks which is what I am interested in, so…and again, like David Bowie, personally to me– like I find a little bit of gender resonance with him.  I feel some sameness there.  I think when you’re queer you look to people who can be style icons or life icons that might just be a little bit off- ended more.  I understand that he has a penis and I do not, but, in every other way we’re exactly the same.  Which means, by the way I think very highly of myself (laughing)! Forgive me David!

The IBang:  How long did the make-up take to up on?
Cameron Esposito: It was a really huge process getting that make up done too.  It looks really simple but it took like, hours.  There’s so much – she whited out my eyebrows and then we drew them back on, just to make it all work out.  Whoever did David’s make up in that picture– not enough is said about that person.

The IBang: The photo just shows your face.  Were you wearing regular clothes or did you get all the way in character?
Cameron Esposito: They were asking me if I wanted to be naked to be more outside of the shot, but I was like– I don’t know that I’m going to be able to be super comfy, so I am wearing a bra.  Don’t be stressed out I am wearing a bra! But not now!  Go live your lives people!

The IBang: You’re doing a tour.  Hitting up some of the big and secondary cities, including going back to Chicago.  Do you like going back home to perform?
Cameron Esposito:  I’m trying to think of the last time I was there.  I rarely go there to perform, because my family is all there.  When I go there I have this real tension, because it’s the only time I can see them, and so I really want to get all that in.  And I feel like I’m traveling so much now, that it’s not as important for me to do sets as it is for me to just spend that time with them.  So I think the last time I was there, and just headlined a show might have even been a year and a half ago, and that show, I had just gotten engaged.  My fiance who is an amazing comic, Rhea Butcher, also opened for that show.  Because we had just gotten engaged, people could not stop screaming with joy.  It was very nice, but I don’t think I could get any jokes out.

People were so excited, because  DOMA had just been overturned and it was my first time home, since moving, and we were headlining and we had just gotten engaged, so it was like (laughing) ceaseless noise throughout the entire thing.  So I’m hoping that this time everybody is able to remain slightly more calm, including myself — I think I was also pretty jazzed– but I love Lincoln Hall.  That venue is really cool that I get to play.  The last place I played was the Hideout which is another one of my favorite rock clubs in the city, and now I’m playing Lincoln Hall which is another great rock club. I feel stoked to be at those places, amongst the people who get to play there.

I understand that Bowie has a penis and I do not, but, in every other way we’re exactly the same. Which means, by the way I think very highly of myself!

The IBang: You tweeted that you were thinking about a favorite hot dog place in Chicago- Hot Dougs, while eating a veggie dog.  Is being a vegetarian a new thing for you?
Cameron Esposito: My fiance, Rhea, is a lifelong vegetarian.  She’s never had meat or fish in her life.  And I am from a “steaks all the time” Chicago family.  Living with her, it just got, number one, exhausting cause i was having to cook two meals all the time.  So it’s time-saving as much as animal saving.  But also, to look at something like that through somebody else’s eyes whose just never experienced it, I was so new and different for me.  I feel a lot better too.  I’ve been dabbling for like two years.  Sometimes when I go on the road, I will eat fish.  Because otherwise, there’s no vegetarian options in some cities and so you just have to eat potato chips, which also makes me feel really bad.  So I have a road exception where I will eat fish.  I will eat fish in Detroit, which I agree does sound dicey. (laughs)

The IBang: I’ve heard you say that when you travel, you don’t like to stay in your room, you like to walk around the city.
Cameron Esposito: Yeah, I think it’s just me being a big weirdo. I  don’t know that it’s necessarily about the cities.  I’ll say that if that makes the cities feel better. I really love seeing new things but I also need a lot of head clearing time in order to perform.  Some comics are naturally extroverted and they can kind of talk to people all day and then go on stage and talk all night.  And then some are introverted.  I think some people spend time alone in their rooms.  But I really spend a lot of time alone, walking the city.  I’ll walk for hours, just to get my brain to function more smoothly.  Otherwise I get too excited and I can’t process my thoughts properly.

I really spend a lot of time alone, walking the city. I’ll walk for hours, just to get my brain to function more smoothly. Other wise I get too excited and I can’t process my thoughts properly.

The IBang: Is it just aimless wandering or do you have a plan?
Cameron Esposito: No I take a different direction every day, and I just go, and if I see something I like, then I come back there the next day.   I do use my eyes to look around and see where I am.  One time I was in New York and I bombed at an audition.  It was a stand up audition and I just bombed, there’s no way around it.  This was a couple of years ago.  And I just left right afterwards and I was staying in the 80’s and I was down in the village and I just walked back to the place I was staying.  And I think I was so thinking about my set, that I didn’t realize that I was at 71st street.  I literally walked about 110 blocks without realizing that I did.  And then once you get that far, you’re like, well now this is just a story so I’ll keep going.

The IBang:  Last year you opened for Anthony Jeselnik on tour. What was that experience like and how different was it from doing your own tour?
Cameron Esposito:  It was great in a lot of ways.  It made me a better comic tenfold.  I think had I done that number of shows where I was headlining, I don’t think I would have improved as much as opening for Anthony. Because I would go out in several thousand seat theaters, and I was not announced on the bill, because he would just not announce openers.  I would walk out and get to do half an hour for people that really weren’t there to see me, at all.   And also not probably there to see anybody that looked like me.  They were not expecting somebody to be wearing a tie that was a woman.  They probably weren’t expecting a woman in general.  Anthony has such a specific brand.  And so it was a real challenge, because…. I mean if you’re a good enough comic you can make any audience laugh.  But I really grew enormously.

It was a huge gift from Anthony to give me that opportunity.  Also because he really didn’t pressure me to have to do something a certain way to set him up.  He was just like, ‘you use this time to get better.  I am the headliner on this tour, they are here to see me, so the minute I walk out, if you’ve done a great job, then they remember that.  If you haven’t done a great job then they don’t really remember that.  The rest of the show kind of goes on.” So that’s actually an awesome thing for someone to say to you because it takes off the pressure and you can just work on your stuff.

The IBang: With your road schedule, how do you find time for personal time, and to work on your podcasts and other shows at home in LA.
Cameron Esposito:  Its super challenging.  I’ll be very honest.  I don’t know that this is a schedule that I would want to keep forever.  I’m so happy to be traveling as much as I am now, but you don’t realize the little things that are going to fall out of– maintaining friendships is very difficult because I’m never around on weekends which is when a lot of people hang out.  Even something like buying new clothes, because I basically just come home, wash my stuff and put it back in the bag.    Seriously!  I don’t have any time (laughs).  But also I am very lucky because my partner is someone who I liked first as a comic, before we were ever dating.  So we get to tour a little together.  I’m trying to do that intentionally, because you live two different lives.  So we’re trying to close that gap a little bit by having me stay home a couple of more weekends and her coming on the road with me a couple more weekends so hopefully that will get easier in the coming year.


Follow Cameron Esposito on Twitter | Buy Cameron Esposito’s New Album | Visit Cameron Esposito’s Website


 Cameron Esposito’s new album is on sale today, October 7.  Catch a preview of the new album below.

 

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