Cameron Esposito and Rhea Butcher had an idea for a show about two lesbian comics who get married and perform together. In other words, their real life.
"I Love Lucy, except we're both ... Lucy Loves Lucy," they joke to NPR's Ari Shapiro. "Also we're both Desi at the same time. It's a little bit of both." The pitch worked. Their show is called Take My Wife, and it's out now on the NBC-owned streaming channel Seeso.
Esposito and Butcher got married last year, and Butcher says making the show has been "an amazing experience, but it has been a living nightmare." Especially because most of what's in the show has actually happened — "It was very confusing," Esposito chimes in, "because we have a bed that we sleep in together, there's also a bed on set. By the end of production I was having dreams that our director and our DP, our director of photography, were in our bedroom with us, filming us at night."
On making a show about queer characters that isn't tragic
Esposito: What a gift it is to be able to be, sort of the first generation of people in the LGBT community that can have a happy ending. Like, we can just get married. And we can just have jobs, and it can be normative.
Butcher: We wanted to make a show that was about what comes after [coming out], and how important it is to have a couch for your girlfriend's parents.
On doing comedy together
Esposito: So often, relationships are a topic that people mine in stand-up. It's a lot of straight male standups on stage talking about women that are off stage. And now, female comics are much more prevalent, so we are hearing the opposite perspective. But what I love about working with Rhea is that you don't have to believe me about what our relationship is like — here's somebody else telling the same story from a different perspective about what our relationship is like.
On the tension in the show between Cameron as an established comic and Rhea, who's just starting out
Butcher: It had begun to change when we were writing this, because when we first moved to Los Angeles, I essentially was an open-mic-er, you know, that was my level. But I've since recorded and released a stand-up album ... and it came out at number one on iTunes, and so many things have happened and gone really well, and I feel very good about where I'm at. And it really was cathartic to put that in the show.
Esposito: One thing that I know is that Rhea will catch up to me, because if you want to do this as a lifelong career and you're lucky enough to have a long life, you're going to be going through an enormous amount of ups and downs. And I have believed since I met Rhea that she has this inherent talent and this viewpoint and so much to say, and it's really wonderful to see Rhea believing that and getting that feedback from the outside world as well. And at the same time, I'm going to fight to be better than her for the rest of my life, because that's what being a comic is.