Cameron Esposito is an L.A.-by-way-of-Chicago comedian who has, for the better part of the last decade, blazed a trail across the comedy circuit, performing for the likes of Jay Leno, Chelsea Handler and Conan O’Brien. Along the way she has shown how laughter is one of the most advanced methods by which we grow accustomed to the strange and the unusual. On stage, she displays the kind of energy that’s like one of those ultra-slow-motion films of lightning splitting itself open and spreading into multiple tangents as it hits the ground hard. Here she speaks about comedy, marriage and other forms of pain.
What was the first joke that you yourself thought was funny?
That is rough. That’s very challenging. It was probably, like . . . I was really into movies when I was a kid. It was probably something that I thought was hilarious in the movie Mannequin or something like that.
Do you remember the first joke you ever told someone?
I don’t know the first joke I ever told somebody. (long pause) I wouldn’t say I was the “class clown” sort of a person. I was a big jock, actually. I wasn’t telling them jokes so much as I was dunking their faces.
So you were cruel.
(laughs) Yeah! Was I funny as a kid? I don’t know. Funny-looking? Yes — I had a bowl-cut and glasses and braces with an eyepatch. So there’s that. I wore an eyepatch when I was a kid, for eight years of my childhood. I had crossed eyes. If you have a weak eye, and you have a strong eye, it strengthens the weak eye. Isn’t that amazing?
Do you think that you grow as a person as your routine evolves?
I think I have grown as a person, because I’m learning how to be an adult. That will make you grow no matter what. Also, I live in sunny Southern California, so there’s lots of great therapy. Things like that also help. I think that your comedy gets better as you know yourself more, so that even if you’re very specific in your observational humor, there are fewer jokes about airplanes and more jokes about people in airplanes.
Are there aspects of marriage in which you thought you’d never indulge, but that you find that you actually finally have?
Oh, the whole thing! I never thought I’d have an engagement, never thought I’d wear a ring, never thought I’d wear a ring that was my wife’s family heirloom, never thought that I’d be able to legally get married. I never thought that we’d actually do it. The whole thing! Top to bottom!
So you never at some point said, “I want to be with someone for the rest of my life”?
I think that — for me, anyway, being queer, and where I grew up — I didn’t know any actual couples. I didn’t know anyone that had been together for a long time. I had no idea that you could just find a partner and be with that person. That existed before marriage, obviously, but I didn’t know about that, either. . . . It’s been a lot of forward movement, from [same-sex marriage] being totally illegal nationwide to now my wife and I have matching bathrobes. That’s an unbelievable jump. . . . I think it’s expanding my horizons of what I thought of myself as: being married, and being somebody’s wife.
Going into the marriage dynamic without any preconceived notions meant that you were free to pursue with a purity of intent. You were able to pursue the dynamic of marriage from a position of freedom.
Absolutely. As George Michael would say: freedom. I think it’s very hard to be married, just like it’s very hard to have business relationships, just like it’s very hard to have family relationships. What is lucky about my marriage is that there really aren’t gender roles, or certain things that we’re supposed to do in our careers, or that we’re supposed to take care of the home. And thank God for that, because I think I couldn’t take all the stress of just being a human, and then trying to fit somebody else’s idea of who I should be.
Cameron Esposito appears on Sunday, Jan. 15, at Levity Live Comedy Club, 591 Collection Blvd., Oxnard. For more information call 457-5550 or visit http://oxnard.levitylive.com or http://cameronesposito.com.