We caught up with Cameron Esposito and Rhea Butcher from our Fall 2015 issue, two hilarious stand-up comedians who happen to be engaged to each other, to talk about why they chose a career in comedy, what it’s like to date a comedian and what’s their hope for the future of LGBTQ rights.
FLURT: Why did you go into stand-up comedy?
Cameron Esposito: I started doing improv in college and really loved being onstage. I worked professionally at an improv theater for several years after graduating but felt something missing for me. I wanted to speak as myself, not as a character, so I tried stand-up instead and it ended up being the right fit. Even though I worked day jobs for years after starting stand-up, I was committed to figuring out how to make it my career.
Rhea Butcher: I’d been doing improv for about a year and a half and my instructor suggested it. I had always wanted to do stand-up. As a kid, I watched Rosie O’Donnell host Stand-up Spotlight on VH1 every Friday with my mom. Once I did stand-up I knew I wanted to keep doing it. It was the first time I experienced true honesty from others and been truly honest myself.
FLURT: What’s it like being in a relationship with another comedian?
CE: Rhea and I knew each other as a comics and friends before we began dating which is great because we already knew that we found each other funny. No comic/comic relationship could survive not thinking the other comic is funny. Mainly though, it’s great being with Rhea. Being a comic is a very specific job and she understands my world so completely – and I understand hers.
RB: It is awesome. We can talk to each other about jokes and shows and everything in a way that a non-comic wouldn’t understand. Being with someone that looks at the world in a similar way that you do is really amazing. It’s also challenging. We are in almost direct competition with each other.
FLURT: How do you balance being together while working together?
CE: It’s difficult. We try to set designated times when we aren’t talking about work and do non-comedy activities we both love, like seeing action movies.
RB: Yes, we try to have very distinct boundaries around work time and personal time. When we are going to talk about work or business we try to cue one another by saying, “Can we talk about a work thing for a moment?”
FLURT: What’s next for your “Ask a Lesbian” Series?
CE: Hoping for more episodes very soon.
FLURT: Where do you think we need to focus on next in regards to LGBTQ rights?
CE: Continuing to educate and advocate for LGBTQ youth. Every LGBTQ kid deserves to be able to imagine a positive, healthy future for themselves and to have the support they need to get there. As LGBTQ adults, we need to stand strong and stand up for those within our community who are not yet able to stand up for themselves. This can be done by volunteering at an LGBTQ advocacy organization, speaking up if we see a young person in our families or community being shamed for being LGBTQ or by sharing our stories so that LGBTQ know that a future is out there for them. That’s what I hope my stand-up provides – a glimpse at a positive future.
RB: Yes, we need to make it okay to talk about the existence of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and trans people in front of and to kids. That’s where LGBT adults come from – we were once kids!
FLURT: What advice do you have for young women trying to make it as comedians?
RB: Don’t apologize and do whatever material you think is important. If they aren’t laughing, it’s because it isn’t funny…yet.
CE: Get to an open mic, sign up and get onstage. It really isn’t more difficult than that. If you fail – and you will fail onstage because every comic fails – go back the next night and the next night. Repetition and commitment make a stand-up career possible.
Find Cameron and Rhea on Twitter @CameronEsposito and @RheaButcher