by Chris Dzaka
VANCOUVER – Among the abundance of talented comics participating in this year’s Just For Laughs NorthWest comedy festival happen to be two of Variety’s 10 People to watch award winners, Cameron Esposito and Rhea Butcher. “Rhea and I are the only couple to win Variety’s 10 people to watch back to back. I won in 2016 and Rhea in 2017,” Esposito says. Butcher humbly adds “It was really cool because you are surrounded by your peers so to have it happen to me and then watch Cameron go though it was awesome. It’s basically one more step of us taking over the world,” she proclaims with a sarcastic confidence.
Esposito and Butcher are riding a runaway train of success, coming off a cross-country American tour: “Back to Back.” “The style of the show is we do thirty minutes together and thirty minutes each individually. As far as I know this is the only show like this, especially being a couple,” Butcher recounts. They recently finished filming the second season of their hit series Take My Wife. The first season was well received by audiences and critics alike and was an intelligent, witty scripted account of life in a same-sex marriage successful movie and comedy careers. Along with fans and with the help of the #takemywife hashtag, the twosome is in search of a new home for the show because Seeso, the NBC streaming site they called home, recently folded.
As comics, turning the tragedy into something to laugh about is key for the duo. “In choosing to be a comic I had to talk about how I am as a person. All of stand up has taken a turn to the more personal,” Esposito says with a laugh. “I looked around and saw some comics didn’t have equivalent experiences. I wasn’t seeing myself anywhere. But if it wasn’t me it would be someone else telling me what it’s like to be gay, still, in a positive way. After a while, hearing gay marriage jokes from straight guys became exhausting, even if they are on the right side of the issue that affects you so personally. So I found myself running toward it. I don’t know, is it less serious than that? We are stand up comics.” Rhea enters as if on cue, also giggling, ”I agree with Cameron but where there’s people, there is conversation. Every step we take of understanding opens up interesting people. It’s not that our differences will become invisible. Our differences will become interesting. It’s not about making individuality invisible as it is about making fear invisible.” These women are using comedy as a weapon for their greater good. Uniting the diversity in humanity with a laugh, a wink, and of course, a smile.
Cameron Esposito and Rhea Butcher perform “Back to Back” at the Rio Theatre (Vancouver) on March 9.