May 28th, 2014 | by MIKE ACKER Arts & Books | Posted In: Comedy

Hotseat: Cameron Esposito

The super-smart, side mullet-sporting comedian talks podcasting, Portland and Macklemore.

tumblr_inline_mnp51rl5li1qdok19Courtesy of cameronesposito.com
Cameron Esposito has been busy lately. LA Weekly and Time Out Los Angeles both tapped her as a comedian to watch. She’s been featured on Chelsea Lately and at comedy festivals across the country (locally, she was at Bridgetown in 2013 and All Jane No Dick the same year). She’s toured the nation with Anthony Jeselnik.

The side mullet-rocking, perennially denim-jacket clad Esposito has done all that while hosting the weekly live comedy showcase/podcast Put Your Hands Together in Los Angeles and hosting the movie podcast Wham Bam Pow. Last fall, Jay Leno called her “the future of comedy.”



Esposito brings her super-smart but conversational standup to Mississippi Studios this Friday, May 30 to record her second full-length comedy album. She answered a few questions via email about podcasting, Macklemore and why she loves Portland.

Willamette Week: How did you land on Portland as the place you wanted to record your newest comedy album?
Cameron Esposito:
My label, Kill Rock Stars is based in Portland. Portia Sabin, who runs the label, suggested I record there. The moment she said it—THE MOMENT—I knew Portland was the right place. I love your city. I look like the president of your city. The straight men in Portland look like me. The first time I ever performed in Portland I was touring as the ringmaster of a punk rock, underground circus—think Cirque du Soleil but with more tattoos. We’d hit seven U.S. cities before we hit Portland, and in no other city did we arrive to find that another, rival touring punk rock, underground circus company had already set-up a weekend residency in the our same block as ours. PDX is the place! Polka dot streets, etc.!

It seems like comedy albums have made a bit of a comeback in recent years. What are your thoughts? Do you think it has anything to do with the explosion of comedy podcasts?

Comedy content in general has had a massive boom. We can take our entertainment with us and we can really curate our specific entertainment consumption. And technology has afforded comics the opportunity to easily create and deliver content directly to their audience. That has created comedy superfans. Instead of just showing up at a comedy club, folks can have a few very favorite comics whose content they specifically look for. Comics have to keep creating constantly to come up with the demand. Comedy has never been less broad and more highly specialized. It’s a really exciting time to be doing it.

Speaking of podcasts, what percentage of comics you book on Put Your Hands Together opt out of being recorded for distribution?
I’d say about 80 percent of folks opt in. I had high hopes and I’m really pleased that so many comics trust us with their material or backstage chats. There are a lot of cities where comics just can’t make a living. We export a live show from a city where so many comics live and work to towns with less industry support all over the country and the world.  It’s raw and lovely—exactly as standup should be.

You came out of Chicago, a town with a long comedic history. Portland is just starting to build a comedy scene. What do you think it takes to maintain a healthy and productive scene once the first few generations of comics have left for L.A.?
Comics must be in the room and do the work. It can be easy to get stuck on the idea of other shows, other cities, other things you should or could be doing. The only thing that matters is the work. Chicago, Portland—cities like that provide tons of stage time to be used to incubate a great act. So be in your city, stay focused on the room you are in and do the work. The rest will come.

Wham Bam Pow is an ingenious podcast. There are hundreds of podcasts about movies, but your show tends to be more about you and panelists Rhea Butler and Ricky Carmona hanging out and shooting the shit and occasionally talking about a movie. How did you develop the format? (Also I really loved the remake of Judge Dredd.)
Ingenious? Well, I am that genius! I pitched an action/sci-fi movie podcast to Jesse Thorn, who runs Maximum Fun, WBP’s parent network. He gave me some great structuring notes and I started creating segments from there. Rhea added tons of feedback and guidance and planning, and Ricky popped in right before we launched to add a much-needed counterpoint to some of what we had planned. In the end, it just turned out really fun. I get to yell into a mic about my passion and laugh with my pals and folks seem to dig it. Glad you like it! (Dredd is great. Lena. Headey.)

WW: Did you catch a lot of heat from Macklemore fans after what you wrote about “Same Love"?He seems to have a pretty active, social media-based, core group of fans that don’t like it when people criticize him.
Actually, no. I heard from troll-y, oppositional people who want to fight about things for no reason, but almost no one who was like, “Leave Macklemore alone!” I also heard from folks who defended the song as being a step in the right direction and as good as we can expect right now. I expect more than that. I expect to be able to speak on my own behalf, and to not have to buy into an anthem sung by a straight guy who cried thinking he might be gay. Because he could draw? He cried. He cried? But he wasn’t gay? And we can’t change even if we wanted to? Oh, please. I can’t change. I don’t want to. I did cry when I thought I might be gay. I was gay. I am gay. And I cried because people told me I should cry if I thought I might be gay—just like that dang song.

GO: Cameron Esposito is at Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi Ave., 288-3895. 7:30 and 10:30 pm. $5. 21+. Tickets for 7:30 pm here and for 10:30 pm here.
 
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