Cameron Esposito: Every Action Movie Has An Equal And Opposite Reaction Movie Comedian Cameron Esposito tells us about her new series Take My Wife, inspired by her and her wife Rhea Butcher.

Cameron Esposito: Every Action Movie Has An Equal And Opposite Reaction Movie

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JONATHAN COULTON: This is NPR's ASK ME ANOTHER. I'm Jonathan Coulton, here with puzzle guru Greg Pliska. And here's your host, Ophira Eisenberg.


Thanks, Jonathan. It's time to welcome our next special guest. She's a comic who created and stars in the Seeso show "Take My Wife." Please welcome Cameron Esposito.

EISENBERG: So Cameron, a lot of comedians have a defining moment in their childhood that they go, you know, that is one of the reasons I became a comic. Now, I don't know what yours is, but can I offer that it might be that you had to wear an eye patch as a kid for eight years.

CAMERON ESPOSITO: Yeah, so it wasn't really a moment.

EISENBERG: Eight years?

ESPOSITO: That's an entire childhood. Yeah, I had crossed eyes when I was a little kid. I've had a couple surgeries, and I had to wear an eye patch for eight years of my childhood. So just imagine a little sweetie, Cammie Esposito. She's got an eye patch. She's got a bowl cut, and she's got glasses and braces - that's right, glasses on top an eye patch.

ESPOSITO: And also a coonskined cap, you know, just...

EISENBERG: Oh, yeah.

ESPOSITO: And then, you know, I was Charlie Chaplin for three Halloweens. But they don't make a child-size cane, so just Charlie Chaplin with a full, adult-size cane.


ESPOSITO: So imagine Charlie Chaplin, like, a suit and the mustache, then a full-size cane you have to hold in the middle. It's like a real Hitler-Moses.

EISENBERG: When's the last time someone has come up to you knowing that you are a comic and, you know, tell you an anecdote and then they want to say you got to put that in your act?

ESPOSITO: Oh my God...

EISENBERG: Has that happened?

ESPOSITO: Do these people know about that this is a terrible thing?

EISENBERG: Let's educate them right now because you're show "Take My Wife..."

ESPOSITO: Ooh, it's a terrible thing.

EISENBERG: ...Is about you and your wife are both standups. It's somewhat autobiographical, is that right?

ESPOSITO: Yeah, I have a real wife. Her name is really Rhea Butcher.


ESPOSITO: And in the show, there are two characters. Their names are Cameron Esposito and Rhea Butcher.

ESPOSITO: And they're two female comics that are also real wives...

EISENBERG: Real wives.

ESPOSITO: It was difficult pitching it because they were like we can't imagine this.

ESPOSITO: How does it work again? And the show follows these women actually kind of dealing with what it's like to be an-up-and-coming comic - the good and the bad gigs. I loved it because I really related to so much of it. But what are you hoping, like, the general audience takes away from it?

ESPOSITO: Well, when you're a woman who does this job, the number-one thing that happens to you is that you tell jokes and be hilarious and make a living. And the number two thing that happens to you that people ask you what it's like being a woman in comedy.

EISENBERG: Constantly.

ESPOSITO: And I always say, well, what's it like being a woman in the whole world 'cause scary and demoralizing and really hard. And also, like, there are more of us.


ESPOSITO: We are 51 percent, but we are made to feel like we are a minority and we are oddballs. And so I think being a woman in comedy is like being a woman in any profession. You have to listen to a lot of dick jokes. My point is...


ESPOSITO: Do you think they'll you'll just bleep that, or do you think they'll put a different public radio word in there?


ESPOSITO: I just want to give you guys an alt though if you need it.




EISENBERG: Why would you marry and be with a comic?

ESPOSITO: Oh, because I want my life to be a living nightmare.

ESPOSITO: No, I will say Rhea is the smartest, best person I know. She's an unbelievable comic. I have a 10-year head start on her in this field. She had a whole other career beforehand because she's much more interesting than I am and she was a fine artist and she was a skateboarder and she was a graphic designer. And I was just a comic. I couldn't help myself. I never thought I would end up with a comic because it's very competitive.


ESPOSITO: If we didn't think we were the best at doing this job, we wouldn't do this job...

EISENBERG: There's no point.

ESPOSITO: ...Because you have to wake up every morning and be like, the world needs you, kid.

ESPOSITO: No one else is as good as you.


ESPOSITO: You got to tell these people good things. that they need to know. It's very - you're very similar to Donald Trump.

ESPOSITO: Who would want to be an an easy relationship? I want to be with somebody that's a little bit challenging, especially now that my marriage is legal, it's like, pfft (ph)...


ESPOSITO: ...What am I going to spend the rest of my time fighting for, you know what I mean? It's, like, stressful to just be accepted.

EISENBERG: Now, you were saying when you were pitching the show and getting ready for it to be something that was going to be on air, the executives were like, it's two women that are together and they do standup. How does this show work? Because you say that often the lesbian characters get killed off. They're like the red shirts of "Star Trek."

ESPOSITO: Yeah. Lesbian on your television show - oh, she's going to die.

EISENBERG: So why do you think that is?

ESPOSITO: I think it is because historically writers rooms have been dominated by straight white men. And I think sometimes straight white men can't think of another thing to do with a lesbian besides have her kiss a woman for ratings.

Usually, how it goes is that there's, like, one cop and she has a husband and a baby. And then there's a doctor, and she meets that doctor, like, 'cause after there was, like, a ferry accident or whatever. And then...

ESPOSITO: ...The doctor's, like, bringing somebody back to life. Then the cop, like, sees the doctor and is like, oh, my God. Like, I'm feeling something for the first time. And then the husband is over there with the baby, and he's like by the way, I'm leaving. And then she's like, oh, no, I'm a please officer raising a child alone.

ESPOSITO: And then the doctor's like, well, I don't know you, but if you need any help I could come over. And then those two women spend several seasons figuring out if they know what to do with their bodies. And then they kiss each other one time...


ESPOSITO: ...And an errant piece of shrapnel from that same ferry accident that's been orbiting the earth for six years pops through the window and gets them both. Actually, just gets the doctor. The cop has to live the rest of her life training her young son to be the next generation of police. But, of course, you know that many types of things can happen to women because women are people.

EISENBERG: Yeah. Well, I've heard.

ESPOSITO: And even lesbians...

EISENBERG: Are people.

ESPOSITO: ...Are people.


ESPOSITO: So, like, they could go to the store. Or sometimes I get on a plane.

EISENBERG: Wow. Now, you actually said, everything I do, I do as a gay person. The quote I read was if I'm ordering a bagel, I'm still a gay person ordering a bagel.

ESPOSITO: Yes (laughter). I didn't remember that quote, but now I'm laughing so hard in my brain, thinking about the fact that I used bagel...

EISENBERG: (Laughter) Bagel is great.

ESPOSITO: ...As opposed to bagel dog and the psychology of that. Please get that.

EISENBERG: (Laughter).

ESPOSITO: But yeah, I think when you're in the majority viewpoint, your viewpoint is invisible - right? - because you're in the majority. People just don't know that you're talking about your sexuality constantly because we all talk about our sexuality constantly - because we all talk about dating, or we talk about not dating, or we talk about relationships, or we talk about breaking up. I talk about being gay in my act because there is no experience other than that in my life. Literally not even my eyes are straight.

EISENBERG: All right, Cameron, how would you feel about playing a little ASK ME ANOTHER challenge?

ESPOSITO: I'm nervous about it.

EISENBERG: No, it's going to be great. Cameron Esposito, everybody.

EISENBERG: So, Cameron, we wrote a movie quiz for you.

ESPOSITO: Oh, great. I love movies.

EISENBERG: Yes, we know because you had a podcast where you talked about sci-fi and action movies, "Wham Bam Pow."

ESPOSITO: That's right. That was an amazing podcast that I only had to stop because I was too busy being famous.

EISENBERG: I love an action film. What's the top one for you?

ESPOSITO: I love the "Terminator" series. I'm a really big fan of all the "Terminator" movies because I love the evolution of the female character in that movie. I love Sarah Connor. She is a damsel in distress in the first movie. Then she becomes good at bed push-ups and then watch out. And I think that she's really amazing. She also is a mother and a fighter because it turns out mothers can do that. We often pretend like mothers can't, but then we're ignoring the evidence of our own mothers, who are usually very tough.

EISENBERG: Right. Right.

ESPOSITO: But I also love in "Terminator 2" the use of facial morphing technology that there before was only used in Michael Jackson's "Black And White" video. Like, that movie is actually the moment that we went from practical effects to digital effects.

EISENBERG: OK, so we are going to read you an excerpt from a dissatisfied customer movie review.


EISENBERG: You just need to identify the film that person is complaining about. We know that you've seen these because you have discussed many of them on your podcast in the past.

ESPOSITO: Oh, great.

COULTON: Now, the stakes are very high, Cameron...

ESPOSITO: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

COULTON: ...Because if you do well enough, we're going to send an ASK ME ANOTHER Rubik's Cube to listener Charlotte Knop (ph) from Minnesota.

ESPOSITO: Oh my god.

COULTON: So it's a pretty big deal.

COULTON: Oh, sure, yeah. You can clap for that.

EISENBERG: Here we go. (Reading) Why can I, the guy who knows very little about dinosaurs, figure out what that animal is and Chris Pratt, the raptor expert, can't?

ESPOSITO: Well, yeah. I mean, this is "Jurassic World," obviously.

EISENBERG: Yes, indeed it is.

ESPOSITO: Because I'm not a maniac.

ESPOSITO: The one thing I would just say is like, yo, Bryce Dallas Howard, next time you being chased by a Pteranodon, pop off them heels.

ESPOSITO: I mean, I just feel like the moment there's a dinosaur attack - well, first of all, let's imagine a world where I'm wearing heels.

ESPOSITO: I suppose in that world there would be dinosaurs.

EISENBERG: There might be a dinosaur attack?

COULTON: It's possible. (Reading) Boring, no-plot movie with tons of blow-up scenes. Blow-up scenes. I don't even want to give it one star, just a bunch of close-ups of Charlize Theron's face.

ESPOSITO: Oh, the new "Mad Max," which is "Fury Road."

COULTON: That's right.


ESPOSITO: You know, what's amazing about "Fury Road" is that Riley Keough is in this movie and Riley Keough is a model. But also, Riley Keough is Elvis's granddaughter.

ESPOSITO: 'Cause she's, like, a beautiful, beautiful woman that has his beautiful, beautiful boy face.

EISENBERG: She's one of those five models that are dressed in toilet paper.

ESPOSITO: That's right. She's one of them "Fifth Element" gals.

EISENBERG: Yeah, right. Right. Right.

COULTON: (Laughter).

EISENBERG: All right, this is your last one. (Reading) Bradley Cooper and Sienna Miller are proud parents of a fake baby.

ESPOSITO: Yeah, that's "American Sniper." So in that movie, the baby that they had booked didn't show up. First of all, I hope that they had assumed that baby was going to get transportation. I hope there wasn't just a baby, like, I'm booked but I don't know how to get there 'cause I'm a baby. But the baby didn't show up...

EISENBERG: ...Baby's waiting for a bus.

ESPOSITO: Yeah, baby trying to hit Uber but doesn't have full muscle control yet. Just - Siri, call Uber. Current location.

ESPOSITO: But the baby didn't show up, so Clint Eastwood was like, here, take this baby. And then they were like, OK, boss. And then they shot it, and what's weird about it is that I feel like they should have helped Bradley Cooper out by weighing it down with something or by telling him that babies have weight...

ESPOSITO: ...Because when he picks up this tiny plastic baby, he's just like whoop. Like, it's - it literally like, floats out of his hands.

EISENBERG: Maybe that baby got a better gig.

ESPOSITO: Yeah, you're right. I bet that baby's doing some work.

EISENBERG: Baby got double scale.

ESPOSITO: Or baby booked a pilot.

EISENBERG: Well, not surprising, Cameron, you got all of them correct. And you and listener...

ESPOSITO: Wow, wow, wow.

EISENBERG: ...Charlotte Knott is also going to get an ASK ME ANOTHER Rubik's Cube.

EISENBERG: Cameron's new show on Seeso is called "Take My Wife." One more time for Cameron Esposito.

ESPOSITO: You guys are just the best. Thank you so much.





























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