Cameron Esposito: a new kind of comedy hero

Esposito’s last show, Rape Jokes, was hailed as part of a new queer-friendly, woke brand of comedy for the #MeToo era. How does she follow it up?

When Hannah Gadsby’s show Nanette went supernova earlier this year, we were told that it was going to change comedy. Nothing, apparently, would be the same again. Much as I acknowledge the show’s power, I reserved judgment on all that. But, at this year’s Edinburgh fringe, I did find myself thinking about Gadsby’s show a lot – particularly when watching comics making sometimes brutal jokes at their own expense. In the past, ringleading the laughter at one’s own weaknesses or points of difference looked like (and may indeed still be) a sign of strength. But post-Nanette, it’s hard not to consider the mental-health fallout.

So, while I don’t think Gadsby has single-handedly changed comedy, she has given us a new lens though which to view it – which is achievement enough. All of which meant that anticipation ran high for the first UK headlining slots of US standup Cameron Esposito, whose most recent show was widely bracketed with Nanette as the most potent comedic expressions yet of the temper of our Time’s Up times. Rape Jokes was released on Esposito’s website in June; all proceeds went to RAINN, the United States’ largest anti-sexual violence organisation. The show addresses Esposito’s own experience of sexual assault. The Daily Beast called it “the first great standup set of the #MeToo era”.

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