Cameron Esposito is no longer an up-and-coming comedian. The gifted, needle-sharp quipster has officially arrived with her new comedy album, Same Sex Symbol. She is currently on tour in support of the new record and has appeared on both Conan and Craig Ferguson’s The Late Late Show. Recently Esposito, thanks to the help of BuzzFeed, produced a video series that has garnered millions of hits on YouTube titled Ask a Lesbian.
Xtra spoke with Esposito about her new record, touring and how her side mullet is enjoying major league success in the comedy world.
Xtra: How is success treating you? Did your side mullet have a good time at the Craig Ferguson and Conan tapings?
Cameron Esposito: Oh, thanks for asking! Well, I’m mostly just a ball of nerves trying to figure out my next move. Standup is one of those sharklike professions where you just have to keep moving or you’ll sink. So, I’m on the road a lot and writing a lot and watching a fair amount of the Property Brothers on Netflix.
Can you talk about what it’s like being queer and gigging in clubs? Do you have to develop a thick skin?
All comics have to walk onstage with some serious armour and also try to balance that with ease and fun. My sexuality works to my benefit onstage. I’m still unique on most lineups or most clubs, and it creates another thing to get past when connecting with mostly straight, mostly male audiences.
Can you talk about the process of writing Same Sex Symbol?
I toured for years honing that material, and it was just ready to be recorded. My first album, Grab Them Aghast, was more of a race to get something out there. This felt natural and inevitable.
Who are your influences in comedy?
I love Maria Bamford’s honesty and stage presence, TJ Miller’s confidence and ability to go with the moment, Kyle Kinane’s persona and Sarah Silverman’s delivery, among many others.
How did your Ask a Lesbian video come about?
I approached BuzzFeed with the idea, expecting maybe 100 responses. We got over 3,000 questions. They presented me with 40 and I took it from there. Symbiosis!
You talk about being a theology major in college. Did you have support taking a less academic direction with your career?
My parents were certainly surprised when I dropped out of grad school to fully commit to standup, but they’ve always been extremely supportive.
What do you love so much about Portland?
It’s a flat-out great comedy town — lots of local culture and folks who like to go out and see live performance. And everyone there has my haircut.
Congratulations on your engagement and your brilliant new album. How are you enjoying touring? Do you have any advice for aspiring queer comics?
Touring is amazing, exhausting and a dream come true. And my advice is the same for all comics — do the work. When you think you have worked hard enough, work harder. Then repeat.