ON STAGE

The Hardest-Working Comedy Wives

Super-busy standup comics Cameron Esposito and Rhea Butcher spend a night of their first joint tour at The Columbus

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Comedians and spouses Cameron Esposito and Rhea Butcher will be stopping by the Columbus Theatre on November 5 as they cruise the country on their first joint bus tour Back to Back. The two host a weekly standup show in Los Angeles that is also a podcast called Put Your Hands Together and co-created the TV series Take My Wife on the streaming service Seeso  – about (what else?) two lesbian comedians, in a relationship with each other, living in LA. The past year has been eventful: Cameron just launched an interview podcast called Queery, and Rhea has been churning out episodes of her new limited-run World Series podcast, Likely Mad as Hell. On a less positive note, Seeso folded this year, leaving Season 2 of Take My Wife fully completed but in limbo. The show, lauded by Vanity Fair as “sweet, funny, and politically sharp,” featured a cast and crew whose racial and sexual diversity was rare for television – more than 50 percent of Season 2’s performers were queer – and an all-female writers’ room, and its stars/creators/showrunners have been working hard to find an alternate distributor. And that hasn’t put a damper on the furious pace at which they’ve been performing, recording and unceasingly promoting other queer entertainers.

With a much lower barrier to entry than other media, Cameron says, podcasts are particularly well-positioned for highlighting the queer community. “We have a culture and a history and a community and a family” that should be explored and celebrated, she says, and now, thanks to the Internet, she can contact people in that community easily and make the podcast cheaply. The first episode dropped in August; already her guests have included “queer luminaries” Tegan and Sara, Evan Rachel Wood and Jill Soloway (plus Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman, for all the UnREAL fans out there).

Both Cameron and Rhea perform solo sets during the tour, after 20 minutes together onstage of prepared material as well as improvised bits. “It’s my favorite thing to improvise with Rhea,” Cameron says. And having the same access to their private life enhances their comedy, they say, rather than forcing one or the other to “claim” a funny moment. “Usually with comedians you’re hearing one side of a relationship story,” Rhea says. “With us, you get to hear both sides at the same time.”

Aside from the work of multiple podcasts, touring, finding a home for Take My Wife, and fighting the good fight for queer representation, this year has been a significant one given the loss of Cameron’s signature, highly distinctive haircut: short on one side, and on the other, as she has described it, a “side mullet.” The logo for their live podcast Put Your Hands Together features an outline of that side mullet alongside Rhea’s equally classic but shorter and more symmetrical ‘do. So does the logo need to change, stat?

Rhea thinks it can wait. “The side mullet is a state of mind,” she says. “It never goes away.”