Cameron Esposito, ringmaster for Chicago-based touring circus company El Circo Cheapo Cabaret and founder of the all-female stand-up course the Feminine Comique, takes us behind the scenes of her Friday night.
6:30 PM: Get in the shower and scrub up with the strongest-smelling men’s bodywash available. Gonna be a sweaty night.
6:45 PM: Try on clothes from my costume dresser. (Yep, I have a separate dresser.)
7 PM: My girlfriend dutifully draws elaborate “Battlestar Galactica” Kara Starbuck Thrace tattoo on my upper arm. My job: annoyingly ask her to draw faster.
7:20 PM: Head to the Metro for Battlestar Fantastica performance with both Terminator and Starbuck costumes in tow—and a few surplus wigs thrown in for good measure. Stop at bodega for cheap cigar to use for Starbuck costume realness.
8 PM: Arrive for show. Convince security I am in show with pile of wigs.
8:50 PM: Stare at naked people backstage while pretending to stare at wall behind them. Encounter Jar Jar Binks costume.
8:55 PM: Go over last minute hosting duties while cohost Jyldo affixes her pasties.
9 PM: Showtime! Solid hour of sci-fi themed burlesque and elaborate choreographed dance routines begins.
9:30 PM: Midshow costume change. Show off penguin-patterned boy briefs. Adult cheer squad Power of Cheer approves!
10 PM: Bow, greet screaming fans.
10:15 PM: Search for people who look just like me in the audience, because my sisters are at the show.
10:30 PM: Alien Queen kicks off. Yell/sing for an hour and a half and laugh heartily at Alien movie reference. Non-sci-fi-nerd sisters enjoy music, ask clarifying questions about jokes.
12:30 AM: Head from Metro to Pick Me Up Cafe to spend hard-earned paycheck on veggie chili. Judge vomiting floozies outside Wrigleyville bars while still wearing Terminator costume.
1 AM: Sisters decide to get milkshakes. Convince them that sisterhood requires tithe of their milkshakes to my mouth.
1:30 AM: Zoom over to Old Town to meet girlfriend after her sketch show in Second City Skybox.
1:45 AM: Arrive at post-Skybox celebration after last call. Drink half of someone’s abandoned red wine.
2 AM: Throw on conservative talk radio for the car ride home; kept alert by anger.
2:20 AM: Home for the night. Put on the movie Once to make sure heart still tender—and stress over the importance of true art.