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Cameron Esposito is not in Illinois Anymore

Cameron_Esposito_1When Cameron Esposito was a little girl, she wanted to be president. Or a cartoonist. Or a priest. Mostly a priest.

Instead, she became a stand-up comic (I’ll come back to this later).

I vaguely remember hearing that one of our favorite home town comedians was leaving to try and make it in LaLa Land, and I vaguely remember thinking, “Oh, how sad for us.” This is news to no one: Chicago has a long history of providing an incubator for comedians, but they don’t seem to stick around. Instead, Cameron Esposito left, like so many others, just when she was getting really, really (really) good.

In my phone conversation with Esposito last week, I asked her why she left:  “What motivated the move to LA, and how’s that going?” I think that’s how I put it.

Duh.

It’s because of her recent debut appearance on late night TV that we now know that Jay Leno is a lesbian, that white men are out, and lesbians rule. That, and, Cameron Esposito is the future of comedy.

So, I guess it’s going just fine.

What Esposito explained to me is that Chicago is a great place to call home has a “really rad live performance scene” rich with community spirit, PBR, and interdisciplinary collaboration.  There is a lot of stage time for professional comedians, but that’s about it.  “I reached a point in my life that I didn’t want stand-up to be the only way that I could be literally paid.”

“The great thing about LA is that you can do live performance here, and then tap into this larger machine that’s working all around you.” The possibilities for a self-proclaimed “purveyor of fine jokes” in LA are abundant compared to Chicago, and Esposito is now pursuing opportunities in writing, acting, voice-overs, animation, etc., etc.

Cameron_Esposito_2

Photo by Kelly Rose of Savage Rose Photography

“It’s like when you go into politics in your hometown, there are three jobs: being the mayor, working for the mayor, and working for the guy that works for the mayor.  But if you go to DC, there are so many types of jobs in the political arena…it’s the same thing… it’s just in the water here.”

Yes, life in LA is looking pretty bright for our hometown lesbian hero of comedy, and a typical day, according to her, is a pretty intense full-time job of networking, auditions, researching bookings, and an “awareness campaign”  that includes lots of lunches.  It’s hard work to be the new kid in town, but infusing herself into the intense west coast entertainment industry is something she doesn’t have to do alone. Esposito now has a team working for her to help find new opportunities, and what she thought would be gross is actually really great. “Stand-up is a solitary art…. and it’s just nice to have other people invested in your business… I’m still the brain trust, I’m still the person driving, but they’re giving great directions.”

Cameron Esposito may not be able to get away with jokes about Logan Square out in LA, but it never occurred to her to be a closeted comedian.  So much of stand-up is pointing out ironic truths about people’s lives, and lying about her own life wasn’t really an option. “I was raised super Catholic… I didn’t see a lot of comedy and the person onstage telling people what their [sic] viewpoint is, and bringing people together to agree on something is the priest” (I told you I’d get back the bit about the priest). What drew Esposito to study Comparative Theology in college was finding the common threads between people. “I was trying to figure out what’s important to people, and how we interact with each other… and that’s what comedy is… I love it so much, because nobody’s being damned to anything and we can all agree that we’re all idiots, and can all do better.”

So really, comedy and the priesthood are the same thing.

It was hard at first coming out in an ultra-Catholic family, but like so many others she felt a sense of relief, as though she’d finally figured out what was “off”.  Coming up as a young comic, Esposito didn’t have examples of what it meant to be gay, and many of the trending topics in comedy were about or at the expense of the LGBTQ community.  She felt it was important to have a voice from the inside. “I think about if there might be gay teens in the audience who don’t know what it looks like [to be gay], and I want to be like, ‘It looks like this! You’re gonna be fine!’”

Cameron Esposito might not be living here any more, but she’s kicking ass and taking names in Los Angeles. She’ll be visiting us from time to time for live performances, but we can also get her hilarity for free on a weekly basis through her two podcasts. Put Your Hands Together is a live stand-up podcast taped on Tuesday nights at Amy Poehler’s theater, The Upright Citizen’s Brigade, which often features really big names in comedy as well as local (as in LA) favorites. Esposito also records a show called Wham Bam Pow, where she and her future bride Rhea Butcher discuss action/sci-fi movies with Ricky Carmona. Did I mention these were free? So it’s not so sad after all.

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About Lauren W

Lauren Warnecke is a Chicago-based dance writer, educator, and freelance dance professional. She holds degrees in Dance (BA, ’03) and Kinesiology (MS, ’09) and is currently a full-time Clinical Instructor for the Department of Kinesiology and Nutrition at UIC. Created in 2009 as a platform for dance-based discourse, Lauren owns and operates Art Intercepts, a dance blog and online resource actively promoting the use of evidence-based practices in dance training and performance with the goal to improve and elevate artistry, dance education, and dancer health. She is a contributing author/blogger at Dance Advantage, 4dancers, and the Huffington Post, and an arts contributor at The L Stop. Lauren freelances as a production/stage manager, choreographer, media relations specialist, and grant writer, for small arts organizations and is a Certified Personal Trainer. She is a master composter who likes to dig in the dirt and bake scones.

Discussion

2 Responses to “Cameron Esposito is not in Illinois Anymore”

  1. Stumbled across this web page after seeing Cameron on Late Night: On the show, she said she’s from “suburban Chicago” — Which ‘burb? [I’m new to Chicagoland, and am learning the nuances of the area.]

    By The Way, she has a lousy “team” behind her, as there’s not even a Wikipedia page for her.

    Posted by Dan | October 22, 2013, 12:53 am

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  1. […] sat between the two hosts and was praised by Leno as being “the future of television.” The L Stop was able to catch up with Cameron following her TV appearance to talk about leaving Chicago, coming out, and establishing her life in […]

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