"Take My Wife" stars talk about life on and off the stand-up stage

 

Funny. Romantic. Intimate.  And Irresistable. This describes the new series recently debuting on NBCUniversal's streaming platform SEESO and created by out stand-up comedians Cameron Esposito and Rhea Butcher.  Take My Wife follows these two incredibly talented and funny women, married in real life, as they navigate their on- and off-stage careers living together, laughing together and dealing with friends, comics, neurotic neighbors, a baby locked inside their apartment, and an immense student loan debt.

Cameron and Rhea in bedRhea and Cameron have created a series that tells a story similar to their own lives, two lesbian stand-up comics sharing the stage and their home, but amplified for comedic and situational humor.  They take us along for a ride that includes: their off-beat neighbor (Laura Kightlinger), their best friend (Zeke Nicholson), a headlining comic (Matt Braunger), a hollywood actress intent on playing a Cameron-esque character (Janet Varney) and an ensemble of funny comics, including the kooky Maria Bamford.

In Episode One (which you can watch here in its entirety), Cameron and Rhea find that daily struggles make for good comedy ... and stand-up makes for good couples therapy.  It begins with their wedding day, and a rather clumsy carrying the bride over the threshold, and quickly rewinds one year in the past.

 

GLAAD is proud to share this exclusive interview with the creators of Take My Wife, Cameron Esposito and Rhea Butcher.

GLAAD:  Given that Cameron has been quoted as saying that the characters and plotlines on the show don’t necessarily mirror your life together, but are thematic in nature, do the core turning points in your relationship somewhat mirror what we see onscreen?

CAMERON:  Everything in the show is reflective of our relationship, our business and our experience working together. Characters were created from a combination of people and moments in our lives, heightened for the screen, but changed so as to protect those folks’ identities.

RHEA:  But in a lot of ways: it's us and it's our world.

 

GLAAD:  Episode 2 walks a fine a line of humor while talking about rape and sexual abuse.  What was that like to work on, and how did the “I am too” montage of survivors at the end come about?

CAMERON:  It was really important to Rhea and myself that we include a more nuanced answer to the question of whether rape jokes are funny or appropriate. So often we have seen it positioned as if all comics are men, and all men want to make light of rape and all women are audience members and all audience members want to censor comics. Sexual assault touches so many people - and so many women - that statistically, someone in your audience has definitely been there. In fact, another comic on the bill with you has probably been there too. Survivors are in every room, at every show and on every bill. 

RHEA:  We knew we wanted to convey that visually and the "I am too" was pitched in our writers room. We are so impressed with and proud of the way our director, actors and editors handled it. 

 

Rhea and Cameron doing stand-upGLAAD:  During a GQ interview last summer, Amy Schumer said that she sees the difference in how women comedians are treated versus men, and all she wants is to be treated like the comic who just sold out the venue.  Given that this feeling may be shared by others, does being out lesbians compound that unfortunate bias with booking agents or even audiences?

CAMERON:  Hmm...the way this question is weighted is pretty strong. At this point, audiences and bookers know who they are getting and my booking agent and the rest of my representation have never asked me to be anyone I am not. 

RHEA:  Mine neither.

CAMERON:  That said, of course we face workplace discrimination, annoyance, difficulty, whatever you want to call it. I believe that most women do. Helping to change the working world for women is one of my greatest missions in life. And the same goes for LGBT folks. 

RHEA: We've come a long way but we've got a long way to go. Getting there is a mission Cameron and I share.

 

GLAAD: Throughout the six episodes, you cover a range of issues from parenthood and massive student loan debt, to open relationships and marriage.  Are there any areas of your lives that are off limits for your stand-up and your show?

RHEA:  Nudity.

CAMERON:  Yeah. Rhea said we couldn't be naked in the show.

RHEA:  I did.

CAMERON: Thank you, Rhea. That was the right choice.

 

GLAAD: There’s a creative use of the camera throughout the series.  I especially remember the montage where you’re both trying on jackets and fixing your hair, and it looks like something out of a music video.  How did you conceive of the “look” of the series when you decided to begin the project?

Cameron and her jacket

RHEA: We had a great director and DP (director of photography), Sam Zvibleman and Andy Rydzewski, who shadowed Rhea and I at our real life live show at the UCB Theater (Upright Citizens Brigade) and at our home, and worked with us to try and get authenticity and honesty out of a small budget.

 

GLAAD:  Rhea, is that fist-bump happy dance from Episode 1 something that’s at the heart of your personality?  (Gotta say, it made me smile!)

RHEA: Uh yeah. I'm a great dancer.

 

Rhea and CameronGLAAD:  In your opinion, what would Hollywood have to do to start showing the diversity of our LGBTQ lives and stories so that “Take My Wife” becomes the norm and not the exception to what’s out there?

CAMERON:  Involve queer folks at every level - in the writers room, at the producers table, onscreen, etc.

RHEA:  We know how to create and sustain queer characters because we are queer.

CAMERON: And here. Get used to it.

 

At a time when Hollywood must do better, we applaud NBCUniversal and SEESO for including an authentic LGBTQ storyline within its launch of premium, streaming HD content.  But, most of all, we congratulate Cameron Esposito and Rhea Butcher for crafting a story that provides a platform where audiences can see, through tears of laughter, two queer women laughing, loving, creating and performing.  By amplifying their own personal stories, Cam and Rhea accelerate acceptance for all LGBTQ people … here and around the world.