I saw Cameron Esposito a couple nights ago in Santa Fe at the Skylight, and she was phenomenal. This was one a day after SCOTUS did the right thing in terms of marriage equality – what a day to see Cameron! She was pumped, for sure, and managed to keep her same energy, her voracious craving for truth, for conflict, in spite of losing a platform which has been her focus for so long.
This is what I really like about Cameron. She’s not there to placate. Yeah, I know that comedians are supposed to challenge and that comedy thrives off confrontation, yeah. We all know that. That’s some fundamental platitude about the craft. That says nothing about those who fail at that or who suck at it outright, or those who accomplish it and what sets them apart and why we respond, what makes us jazzed and pumped to see these people tell their jokes in front of our faces with our jagged teeth, beaming up at the stage, mouths agape like we’re waiting for someone to drop a gutted herring into the front row.
I was in the front row, as it happens. And as it happens, I was the only hetero white male in the front row, too, which I noticed gave Esposito brief pause. She still touched my hand and called me pal, I got a photo after the show with her and my fiance and told her that I am terrified in the same way she is of being murdered in my bed at night. She exudes a total confidence that I aspire to. She’s got posture down, she’s aware of her movements. She controls how she drinks her water, a true actor upon the stage. I watch her eyes, each movement precise. She is planning, she’s thinking. She’s right there with the audience, interacting with them, telling her story. She weaves in and out of narrative and absurdity, she loops back after tangents and keeps a powerful through line to ensure the show is intelligible.
I’ve seen some shower thoughts on reddit that suggest we should have regular people at the Olympics so we can see how really incredible the athletes there are. This impulse comes from us going to music events and comedy shows and watched the opens scrounge for affection. We see them struggle, which we relate to. We can’t imagine being in their place. Then the professional(s) step onto the stage and we are immediately drawn into the presence, like a passing asteroid sucked in to the crushing gravity of Jupiter. It’s an event. It feels nice to be pulled in, though really we’re imagining being the one who pulls. Cameron Esposito is enamoring. She reminds me of Liv Ullmann, actually. She is fascinating to observe, her inner world just on the brink of availability.
Esposito brings us around her orbit, fluctuating between her humor and real shit. She’ll discuss guns, and how living means to struggle and I like it so much because she doesn’t lose her audience for a second. She’ll shout at you and the veins on her left temple will emerge and subside and she’ll bring you back in. Remarkably skillful.
She discussed the issue of the young hetero white male, about teaching YHWMs not to think the world belongs to them or owes them anything, not to try and take things because they don’t feel like they should have to struggle. And I like this. I am a YHWM and when I was younger I was a little fucking psychopath. I wanted to hurt people. I could have been a Dylan Klebold or a James Holmes, and thank whatever you think is worth thanking that I escaped my own shitty brain. I’m a thin man with a touch of the effeminate, and I was mocked for this, put down and made less-than. So I wanted to hurt people. Why is it that even though being mocked and belittled is, as it turns out, the majority of people’s experience and yet it’s predominately YWHMs who aggrress on the world with firearms in public places? Well, shit, maybe we could take a cue from Cameron Esposito. Clearly we need to take a cue from someone.
I don’t want you to think this comes from a place of white guilt. This is just some real shit. Real shit of the Cameron Esposito variety, of the Killer Mike variety. We should listen. I really think that we should listen. Especially YWHMs.