Cameron Esposito – The now of comedy

Comedian Cameron Esposito has been in the local news a lot lately — with a recent return to Chicago’s Lincoln Hall for a gig. She may have grown up and made her name here locally, but she’s living in Los Angeles now, and on the verge of becoming a super-star. Before her return to Chicago on Oct. 14 for her show, she answered a few questions from The Chicago Ambassador:

Interviewed by Bob Chiarito for The Chicago Ambassador.

CA) You join a long list of comedians and actors who hail from Chicago and have left for Los Angeles to “make it big.” Is there something specific that you’re after that will signify to yourself that “you’ve made it?”

ESPOSITO) I already feel that I’m on the right track – I do standup for a living and have for years. In terms of “making it”, there isn’t really one final end goal. It’s really just to keep working.

CA) Chicagoans tend to really root for natives that go elsewhere — do you feel any special love from Chicago as compared to other cities? Does that put any added pressure on you?

ESPOSITO) Chicago has a special place in my heart – it’s where I came up as a comic. There isn’t really any pressure in that; just a feeling of connection to fellow comics that started there for spent time in your great city.

CA) Do you envision an eventual return to living in Chicago?

ESPOSITO) Well, no. My folks still live there, and my sister, so I visit as often as I can but I can’t see moving back to live. I love Chicago – it’s a real, honest city with hear and culture and drive. It’s a professional decision to live in LA, and the job opportunities are only increasing for me there.

CA) You use your suburban upbringing and Catholic school experiences a lot in your material — how much has that shaped who you are as a person?

ESPOSITO) Do I? I guess I’m pretty angry with the Catholic Church for its treatment of women and sexuality – for gay and straight folks, but I still feel culturally Catholic. I mean, I went to Catholic school until I was 22 and I’m from a conservation Italian Catholic family. I wish I could still participate in some to the traditions and holidays of my childhood, but I cannot in good conscience support the Church as an organization.

CA) Your national television debut on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson show couldn’t have been scripted any better — What did you think about Jay Leno calling you “the future of comedy” ?

ESPOSITO)  I thought it was completely appropriate and if anything, a bit reserved. I am the now of comedy.

CA) I read your column entitled Chaising Amy Poehler on the A.V. Club site — how much of an influence has she been? 

ESPOSITO) Amy and I went to the same college and were in the same improv group there, but ten years apart. She was on SNL while I was in school and was the first person who worked professionally in comedy that I felt even a vague connection to.

CA) Who if anyone would you say are your comedic role models?

ESPOSITO)  Maria Bamford, TJ Miller, Kumail Nanjiani

CA) Speaking of your column for the A.V. Club website — you seem to let your fans behind the curtain a bit with it — how did the column come about and what does it do for you?

ESPOSITO)  I began to do a lot more writing when I moved to LA and was looking for a permanent home for a column about life as a standup. The AV Club was the perfect fit. I’ve been surprised to find out many of my peers read the column, so that’s rad. Comics come up to my now and say, “I totally relate to that moment you wrote about this week.” and that’s very cool.

CA) You’ve also become a sort of lesbian role model, especially for younger girls who may be just coming out. Is this a role you have sought or were you drafted into it? 

ESPOSITO)  Not sure if that’s true, but thank you. It was absolutely a goal. When I was coming out I knew no gay people and couldn’t imagine a healthy or positive future. If I can help anyone who might be struggling to connect with themselves to see that difficulty can have a time limit, then I’ve done exactly what I set out to do.

CA) You use your sexual orientation a lot in your comedy to as a social commentary  — are you trying to do more than get laughs?

ESPOSITO)  I use my sexual orientation the exact same amount that any straight comic does. It’s just that heterosexuality is invisible – we see and hear about it so much that it doesn’t stand out when mentioned.

CA) What are you working on now and what’s in the future for you?

– I have a new album, Same Sex Symbol,  on rad indie music record label Kill Rocks Stars. And then some other surprises after that.

Cameron Esposito is an L.A.-based stand-up comic, writer, and actor. Her new album, Same Sex Symbol, came out Oct. 7 on Kill Rock Stars records.


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