Cameron Esposito, "purveyor of fine jokes," knows how to deal with a heckler. The openly lesbian comedian, whom Jay Leno once called "the future of late night comedy," not only faces, as a female comedian on the stage, a continual onslaught of misogynistic criticism, she also encounters her fair share of homophobia as a readable, genderqueer woman who doesn't shy away from discussions about her sexuality. In fact, the predominant theme of her new comedy album, Same Sex Symbol (out Oct. 7), is lesbianism.
Luckily for Esposito and her fans, she has a surefire strategy to shut down even the most annoying middle-aged white guy who mistakenly wanders into her club.
One of Esposito's running jokes highlights the fact that it's not difficult for people to identify her as a lesbian. "I have a side mullet! I look like most of Portland's men!" she says. "This look [gesturing to her outfit] is to attract women."
But despite an act — and a fashion sense — tailored for a specific demographic, men in the audience, whether done in jest or born of a disheartening cocktail of misogyny and homophobia, still feel the need to interrupt her routines. These men need to make it known to everyone that Esposito, in fact, looks like a lesbian.
"'You look like a woman who doesn't sleep with men!'" Esposito says in the clip above. "He yelled that at me as if I don't know."
Esposito is, of course, not unique as a lesbian comedian dealing with these added pressures onstage. The list of famous and fantastic lesbian stand-up comedians is long, from first-name-only superstars like Ellen and Rosie to popular and respected stage veterans like Dana Goldberg and Judy Gold. Need we even mention those who are still in the closet or who've just come out or have courageously discussed this experience as part of their act? Just look at Tig Notaro, who for years never addressed her sexuality on stage, even though her "little titties" (a well-known sketch she no longer performs because of her experience with breast cancer), like Esposito's side mullet, gave her away as a big lesbian.
Despite a profession that has historically skewed unabashedly straight and male, these women are proving that a diversity of perspective doesn't mean less funny. Esposito's stand-up — especially the particular bit detailed here — captures both the history and verve of strong lesbian comedian voices, as well as her generation's fearless ability to openly be whoever they are. As she says at the end of her masterful takedown: "To you I say, sir, there is no chance that you are less into me than I am into you."
Any other questions? We didn't think so.