The L.A.-bound comic talks about being funny in Chicago.
Cameron Esposito’s loose-limbed and insouciant style of comedy has won her fans, accolades and—something rare in Chicago—a full-time living telling jokes. Still, L.A. beckons and Esposito heads west this summer. In anticipation of her farewell show at the Lincoln Lodge Friday 18, we sat down with the hardworking comic to talk about her numerous local credits (Cole’s open mic, Feminine Comique, Lincoln Lodge, Side Mullet Nation). Here is what she has to say about…
…Her first time at the mic
I was living in Boston and doing improv professionally. There were these dudes called the Walsh Brothers and they ran a very successful show. Because I also worked at that theater doing improv, I thought, this will be easy. I thought I destroyed. I really felt good about it. I moved to Chicago a couple months later and immediately started calling myself a stand-up.
…Style of comedy
Stories that have really specific details and meandering jokes. That’s how I talk naturally. It feels more authentic than setup/punch line jokes.
…Her first local gig
I ran a show here for eight months called the Spectacular Show. I was living at my parents’ house in Western Springs and Myspacing people. My sister did lights and sounds, [and] I baked cupcakes. It was a lot less about my ability to do stand-up and more about my ability to research who the really good people in town were and somehow convince them to come to this show.
I had been a Lincoln Lodge cast member for two years and was talking to Mark Geary, the producer, about avenues for growing the brand. At the same time, an article had come out in Time Out Chicago about how there were no women in the stand-up scene. I was thinking to myself, it is fucking hard to be a woman in comedy, so that’s the idea of where the class came from. It actually worked because over 100 women have gone through the program.
…Side Mullet Nation
I had the opportunity to do a solo show at Just for Laughs and then run that at the Comedy Bar. That was amazing because I felt like for the first time I was creating something onstage that was authentically what I wanted to do. Someone made me a cake with my haircut on it in frosting, so I guess I felt like there was a market for what I was doing.
…Cole’s Open Mic
There are a myriad of open mics in the city where you can go and have the experience of dying on stage. [Cohost Adam Burke and I] were interested in trying to do the opposite. Terrible jokes don’t go over well yet that person isn’t made to feel shamed. They just don’t do well and that’s the end of that, and you walk offstage and somebody buys you a PBR.
We’re having these shows [this summer] at a recording studio that’s here in Logan Square. They are these 25-people-only invite shows. We’re taking the audio from there and we’re going to be doing limited cassette pressings that will be available at Reckless Records. The idea is to make it the opposite of a podcast. It’s something tangible and it’s something that happened in front of people.
…Leaving our comedy scene
Every night of the week you know where your friends are and you can just show up there. A lot of people don’t have a circle like that. I’m hoping that L.A. is so exciting that I immediately forget about everybody I left behind, because otherwise I don’t know how I’m going to make it through.
Side Mullet Send Off happens Friday 18 at the Lincoln Lodge.