Take My WiFe...on Tour
Comedy duo Rhea Butcher and Cameron Esposito hop on the comedy bus
Touring can either make or break a band, so the fact that seasoned comedy duo/civil rights activists Cameron Esposito and Rhea Butcher are crossing the country like rock stars in a bus should be the stuff of comedic gold.
They originally met in the tough Chicago comedy/improv scene and bonded during road gigs. Thus, their Back to Back tour, which arrives this month at the Variety Playhouse, is a milestone in the married couple's life. Not only is it their first time in a bus, it's their biggest tour yet.
The pair, who also share a TV show (NBC Seeso's Take My Wife) and a podcast (Put Your Hands Together), will each perform separate sets and then join together for stories and improvised riffs in the second half. They talked with INsite by phone from their home in California.
It's great the tour will be coming to Atlanta. Have you played here before?
Rhea: We're excited about it too! We were there for Garry Marshall's last movie "Mother's Day." Cameron was in it and we both hung out there together. We did do one comedy show [at the Highland Inn] while we were there.
Dual acts are still pretty rare in comedy.
Cameron: Yeah. There are acts like the Lucas Brothers or the Sklar Brothers, but it's hard. That's why they're rare. I'm amazed that we can do it but I love that Rhea makes me laugh on stage. I think it's actually cool for an audience to see a couple's affection for each other as they are joking about whatever other nonsense we're talking about.
It's a great time for live comedy on the road - solo, duo or group.
Rhea: Oh absolutely, it's like the whatever period comes after the golden age time right now. For us, this is our first time taking a bus and we're pretty excited about that! It's the whole thing. It's been a little while since we've been on the road so we're looking forward to hitting this many cities and seeing some people.
Cameron: It's definitely a great time to be out on the road with people. Rhea and I toured together with the fight for marriage equality. It was all over the map and being out there and realizing how much we all have in common was great. It just feels good to put our phones down and actually talk to each other and realize we are all in this fight together. I think that's what this tour will be like, too.
Since you're both on Kill Rock Stars, it's definitely a punk tour.
Rhea: Absolutely. They have a great stable of comedians on that label and it's a very punk rock family business that we have going, so it really works together.
Touring can bring out the best and the worst in people.
Cameron: I think anybody who works with their spouse or has a family business can relate to how stressful it can be. And what if your family business is also travelling on a bus! But I think it's worth it because the jobs we have chosen, which I love, requires a lot of alone time. That's kind of the whole thing of being a stand-up comic. It's just you. You want to be onstage by yourself and you're happy to travel to do it. It can be lonely. So it's really the best thing to have found a partner who wants to hop on the bus with you.
It can be a very isolated lifestyle.
Cameron: Yeah because it's very uneven. You've been having a one-sided conversation with some strangers. Now they know a lot about you but you don't really know them so it puts you in a weird position. You've just shared your deepest darkest secrets. But that's been in stand-up comedy for a while now, kind of the move away from general subjects like airplane food or whatever and toward the personal. Everyone is talking about their lives now. Now the jump to talking about your life on Instagram or Twitter is a little less weird now for the comic, as opposed to just like a straight-up actor, for example, whose whole job is to disappear into a character.
On Take My Wife you offer a bit of altered reality with a message.
Cameron: Yeah it's definitely based on us and the themes and the moments ring true but they aren't 100 percent autobiographical. But when you're in an under-represented group, both as queer people and as women, you have to make a choice. Are you going to step out and be a voice for an under-represented community or not? And I feel like we made that choice a long time ago.
Is it hard to joke during times like these? Or is this the best time for it?
Cameron: It's a weird time to be doing standup, I'll tell you. It's a scary time for a lot of people. For me and a lot of people we know. But we're having conversations that I haven't seen us have before. It's a lot to try and joke through because every day feels like ten years' worth of disasters. An insurmountable amount of news and actions.
But there's redemption ahead.
Cameron: Yeah. The LGBT community is experiencing the fastest progressing civil rights movement in the history of our country. That's part of the reason why the blowback is so specific and so big right now. It's people that are afraid, trying to slow the wheels of a train that has already gone. It's left the station.
Cameron Esposito and Rhea Butcher perform at the Variety Playhouse October 3. For more information, please visit variety-playhouse.com.