I’ve been hearing about Cameron Esposito for a while now. Who was this funny woman, I wondered. And is I’ve been hearing actually grammatically acceptable? I’ve been hearing: It sounds like something the old goat farmer up the way might say. Cameron seems to appeal to the hipster lesbian demographic (See also blue, plastic 1980’s glasses, which forward thinker that I am, I was already wearing in the 1980’s.) so I decided to get close to Cameron, I’d better blend. This is a lengthy way of explaining why she opened the curtains to find me drinking PBR in her tree last night. Because Cameron is more than just a whip-smart comedian with an easy, and as it turns out, demographic-defying style, she agreed to do a quick interview before she called the police.
Full name: Cameron Anne Young Anastasia Esposito (for real)
Hometown: Western Springs, IL
Profession: Standup comic/circus ringmaster
Hobbies: yelling instructions at the screen while watching action movies; making delicious meals from various useless household food scraps (think red pepper banana pancakes, Reese's peanut butter cups dipped in salsa)
Our Town What was your first joke?
Cameron Esposito Something about how I dated a very tall Asian man in high school. [It] relied on well-placed Yao Ming reference.
OT What’s the biggest difference between being a novice comedian and a veteran performer?
CE Understanding how much work you have ahead of you. Newer comics tend to think Letterman is a year away and a lucrative film career around the corner; the longer you perform the more you are humbled.
OT With your course Feminine Comique, you teach women how to write jokes but not how to be funny. What’s the difference?
CE Jokes come from truth, from the strength of our opinions about the world. Some folks will always be funnier than others; it's inborn. But you can teach the recognition and conveyance of truth.
OT Teach me how to write a joke.
CE Had someone say something rude to ya on the train? Write it down immediately or text yourself the hurtful comment. Add context to explain that you were just riding the train, being cool. Make sure to hang onto that feeling of being wronged. Get up at an open mic and rage. Refine wording and destroy with joke at a booked show. That rude person may never hear your come back, but you just got paid to tell it, so you win!
OT How are you different in life as opposed to onstage?
CE My persona onstage is friendly, open, light-hearted. Offstage, I've got a shy, judgmental, dark side that I save for those I love the most. (You're welcome, close friends!)
OT Talk a little about your show, Side Mullet Nation.
CE I'm spending a full hour telling the seamless storyjokes I've been refining over the past year. The material is personal, emotional and should appear as one solid mass of thought. You can have time to think and chat about it later, but at the theater, you are mine for an hour of tale spinnin'.
OT You support yourself through comedy and teaching. Any advice for aspiring comics?
CE It's easy to get caught up in scheming and looking ahead to the future, but the only way to get there is by attending crappy open mics, driving to insane road gigs to perform for one person, or opening for a tragic car accident victim fundraiser. Keep your head up and do the work.
OT Describe your perfect day:
CE Wake up. Immediately get to work doing internet research on feminist views of "Inception" or the exact amount of torque it would take to keep a human on a windshield while a car drives 80 miles an hour a la "Death Proof." File new knowledge in area of brain marked: "junk to talk about incessantly." Hit up the Logan Square farmers market to learn what length jean shorts are currently the coolest/eat some focaccia bread. Ride bike over to Quimby's to browse graphic novels. (On the way, curse at cars driving crazy). Head home to shower and spend some quality time with my hair products. Accept rockin’ booking for some great show over the phone, drive to dinner with pals to celebrate. (On the way, curse at cyclists biking crazy). Dine. Coffee. Action movie right before bed to ensure violent dreams and restless sleep.
OT Relationship Deal breaker.
CE Loud chewing. If you are willing to stick to a liquid diet, maybe we could work it out.
OT Ever used comedy to pick someone up?
CE Every person I have ever dated. Have you met me? I'm frickin’ charming as hell (heck? Do you have to say heck in the Sun Times?)
OT No, but it was charming of you to ask. Who was your first crush?
CE Mary Stuart Masterson. She's straight but we are definitely the same gender: fighter pilot.
OT Why are you crushworthy?
CE Deep, raspy smokers voice with the portability of a non-smoker (just born gravelly). Two-in-one hair cut. Mysterious atheist with a degree in theology mentality. And I've got great ankles.
OT Any questions for me?
CE Do you mind returning that hair you plucked from my head just now? Cuz I know it would complete your shrine, but I'm terrified of being cloned.
A writer with an MFA in Creative Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Sarah Terez Rosenblum freelances for a number of web sites and print publications. Her debut novel, “Herself When She’s Missing," is forthcoming from Counter Point Press. She is also a figure model, Spinning instructor and teacher at Chicago’s StoryStudio. Inevitably one day she will find herself lecturing naked on a spinning bike. She's kind of looking forward to it actually.
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