Rhea Butcher is a low key comedian with a slender frame, cool demeanor, and incredible sense of self. OH THAT SOUNDED SO FAKE I CAN’T EVEN PRETEND. Let’s try this again.
Rhea Butcher is so fucking cool. The LA-based comedian and total midwest badass can be seen performing stand up comedy as well as writing and producing projects on YouTube and Seeso. When she isn’t performing at UCB in LA or touring the country doing stand-up, she is making web series about feminism and the patriarchy and also co-producing “Take My Wife” with her real-life wife and fellow comedian, Cameron Esposito.
I had a chance to learn from Butcher herself what it was like growing up in Akron and how it influenced her creative output. “Ohio has always been such a huge influence on me as a person,” she explained. “There’s just something about Ohio. The long winters and the long championship drought, which is now totally over of course, can spark creativity. I mean, you have to have a sense of humor when you are stuck inside for 6 months of the year and your teams don’t win!” As a Buffalo Bills fan, I can certainly relate.
Butcher has worked on a variety of creative projects since leaving Ohio. one of my favorite is “She Said”- a web series that breaks down more complicated social movements into simplistic, edible bites. She explained to me how writing for a myriad of projects allows her to use almost every piece of a joke because of the endless opportunities for material. “For me, stand up is always something that I write through experience. Sometimes a joke doesn’t work and then I leave it and I have something else happen to me in my life and I think, ‘oh, this will make that other thing work.’ I guess I kinda look at the shows the same way. With ‘She Said,’ we really just wanted it to seem like a real thing someone would actually say.”
I asked Butcher the ridiculous question that all female comedians (or as some people call us… comedians) get, which is annoying but also really important. As queer and gay women, we are a minority in the comedy community. I asked her how her identity impacts not just what she writes but the lens through which she writes. “As a cisgenderqueer lesbian woman, my identity effects everything. I think about this George Harrison quote all the time, where the interviewer said ‘What’s it like to be in the Beatles?’ and George said, ‘I don’t know, what’s it like to not be in the Beatles?’ I think it’s like that. I really just write what I’ve lived or what I think, and that is by default through my lens but really all comics are working through their own lens, my lens just seems different. For now.” Such a good answer. I’m planning on stealing that Beatles story for the next time someone tells me how funny I am for being a girl. COOL COMPLIMENT, BRO.
Of course I had to ask her about “Take My Wife,” which premieres this month on Seeso and has already gotten amazingly positive reviews. She wrote the show with her wife both on and off set, Cameron Esposito. The show is about the interaction of personal lives and professional lives as comedians, which is awesome, but probably pretty true to real life. I asked Butcher what’s it like managing personal relationships as a comedian when working together. “It is a living nightmare, but it’s also the most fun because I really love working with her. We’ve just gotten it since we met. Same page since day one. But we are also both very strong personalities, so it’s really just a divide and conquer but a lot of times you want to conquer the same thing. That’s where it gets tricky. Time management and making sure you do normal human things, like go to dinner with no phones or see a movie or take a walk.”
Finally, I asked Butcher what was on her Ohio bucket list as she comes back to headline the Arch City Comedy Festival August 25 through 27 here in Columbus. “I am SUPER excited to be back home! I had a bet with a fellow Ohioan out here that we made when the Cavs lost last year that if any team wins anything we fly back. I couldn’t go because I was shooting our show and she missed the standby list by one person! Which, until recently was a very Cleveland way to miss out on Cleveland. I am stoked to see how happy everyone is and also my old favorite places. Definitely hitting up Luigi’s and Swenson’s and driving down King James Way in Akron.”
Welcome home, Butcher. We are glad you’re back!
You can catch Rhea Butcher on Friday, August 26th at the Green Room at Short North Stage at 7:30pm and at The Barrel on Saturday, August 27th at 10pm. You can catch Brooke opening for Rhea at the 10pm show at The Barrel because lesbians hang out in packs and also at the 7:30pm show on Saturday at the Green Room. Full festival lineup here.