Cameron Esposito on Boston College, Anna’s Taqueria, and ImprovAsylum

The comedian says Boston's comedy scene was the first time she really felt free to be herself.

Cameron Esposito

Photo by Mandee Johnson Provided

Comedian Cameron Esposito may be taking the comedy scene by storm, with an upcoming special to be filmed and a new TV show on the horizon, but once upon a time, like so many others (including a certain Amy Poehler) she was just a college student attending Boston College. She returns to the city for a standup date at Brighton Music Hall on Thursday, and we chatted with her about her time in Boston, where she likes to visit while she’s in town, and what it was like to attend BC.

So when were you living in Boston?

I lived in Boston from 2000 to 2006. I went to BC and then I also lived in Somerville for a couple of years afterwards and had my first comedy jobs, actually. I worked at Improv Boston and also Improv Asylum.

Where in Somerville did you live?

I lived in Davis Square. Well, actually, that’s not true. Technically, Teele Square, which is pretty close.

That’s like, almost Davis Square.

Yeah. But I just didn’t want to lie to your readers, or to you.

When you were in school, you were a comparative theology major, which is obviously very different from what you ended up doing with your career. Was there a moment while you were in school where you were like, I like what I’m learning about, but theology is not where I’m going to go with my life?

You’re going to think this is a stretch, but I don’t. I don’t actually think it’s that different than what I was interested in. The reason that I was studying comparative theology was that I wanted to know what was important to people and their belief structures. Even if you’re an atheist, you still have a worldview that’s shaped by what you think about what we’re all doing here, and that’s kind of the same thing that standup wrestles with, is just like, what are we doing here? Also, in standup, like in the Catholic Church, there’s one person in the front who’s talking, and then everybody else is kind of looking at them. So it’s not that different to me as an experience.

But the reason that I found this to suit me better…. It’s intense to talk about, but Boston College was not the greatest place to go as a queer person, especially at that time, because when I went there sexual orientation was not covered by their non discrimination policy, and so, though I made some of the best friends that I still have to this day there, and though that school really shaped me as a person, it was also a tough place to be.

Did you find once you finished school and moved to Somerville, you felt more at home in the city?

Yeah, I really couldn’t believe it. I went to Catholic grade school, high school, and college. The view that I was getting in BC wasn’t different from what I heard other places. What I realized as that there was a much larger world outside of that viewpoint and I learned that really, in comedy. I also had a day job, but at the time I was so uncomfortable with myself that I wasn’t as out as I am now, but I was in comedy. I’ve always been out in comedy. And it was really the community at ImprovBoston and ImprovAsylum who were the first people who really knew me as the person that I am and loved me for it. So it was a really transformative experience working there.

You were just on Drunk History. What’s it like watching it after maybe not fully remembering what your narration turned out like?

So I’m not a huge drinker, but I’m competitive. And so Derek convinced me to do a bunch of shots with him. I have a no shots rule on the road, I never ever do shots. And then I had to leave, because the shoot was over, and on the way home, all of the shots hit. So in the show, I’m completely composed, because I’m always composed in public and on camera, and then the second I got home, I was laying on the floor, demanding Doritos. You know, we’re all doing the best we can.

Any must-have spots that you like to visit when you come back to town?

Anna’s Taqueria.

There you go, that’s in Davis Square.

Yeah. I mean, they’re all over the place. My favorite one is the one in Coolidge Corner. Because you have to have a favorite one. I also loved the Brookline Booksmith. That place rules. You have a great local bookstore.