‘Rape Jokes’ – A Special by Cameron Esposito

Featured Image by Graham Fielder and originally appeared here.

I don’t partake in a lot of stand-up comedy.  I’m a feminist killjoy, and a lot of comedy has relied on misogyny and racism for laughs, making fun of p.c. culture.  I realize comedy is really diverse, but instances like the rise of popularity in comedy like the ‘Blue Collar Comedy Tour’ was absolutely baffling to me.

I have, however, tried to broaden my horizons and consume more stand up comedy.  I need some comedy to balance all the indie downer films and true crime podcasts!  There are really great comedians out there, and now with podcasts like ‘Put Your Hands Together’ (hosted by Cameron Esposito and her wife Rhea Butcher), it’s been really easy to access more diverse content and comics of all walks of life.  I really enjoy ‘PYHT’ because of that fact, but also because Cam and Rhea open the show and they’re a real hoot!  Open, honest, candid, hilarious…  I loved listening to ‘PYHT’ so much that, when they started advertising Cam’s other podcast, ‘Queery,’ I started listening to that as well.  It’s in my Top 5 Podcasts of all time.  ‘Queery’ is an hour long conversation with Cam and “some of the brightest luminaries in the LGBTQ+ family… [and] explores individual stories of identity, personality, and the shifting cultural matrix around gender, sexuality, and civil rights.” — (EARWOLF)

On both podcasts, Esposito advertised her new special, ‘Rape Jokes.’  As she was offering it for free with the option to donate after you’ve watched, I put it on my immediate viewing list, and I watched it Monday night.  Here’s the description from her site:

‘Rape Jokes’ is a standup special about sexual assault from a survivor’s perspective.  Proceeds benefit RAINN, the United States’ largest anti-sexual violence organization.

Esposito started honing this material in January, touring in smaller black-box-style venues, houses ranging from fifty to a hundred people.  The audience at the taping were unaware of the title of the special.  There are moments when the audience seems unsure if they ought to laugh; a larger crowd might’ve done some more of the heavy lifting with reactions, but it makes sense to do this sort of show in front of a smaller crowd as it’s already very emotional.

Esposito races from the gate on topics of sexual harassment and assault, the culture of comedy in our current climate, and toward the second half of the special, her very own personal experience.

It was very interesting to see her capture this footage and experience with the audience in this way.  Esposito takes this really awful experience and has found a way to talk about it from a place of expanding education and prevention that isn’t happening currently.  There is humor woven throughout, a sense of hope when looking to the future.  Near the end, Esposito talks about legacy, a preoccupation for anyone who has contemplated their own mortality and therefore has at least considered the decision of bringing children into the world.  She talks about how kids aren’t the only answer to leaving a legacy.  “You want a leave a legacy?” Esposito asked.  “Get in the way.”  When you see something happening that shouldn’t be happening or you see a need in your community or you see suffering that you can alleviate… GET. IN. THE. WAY.

I think we can all agree that that’s a great idea for all of us.  Get in the way.

‘Rape Jokes’ is available on Cameron Esposito’s site for free; anyone who needs to see this can access it.  If you felt moved by her special, please consider donating to RAINN from the same page!  Esposito is donating all proceeds (after recovering very minimal production costs)!  Do some good!  It only takes a few minutes to donate!


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