The New York Comedy Festival, which runs from November 1st through the 6th at various venues throughout Manhattan, hosts a tremendous array of talented voices. Though not yet a household name, Cameron Esposito is one you should heed. An ardent advocate of LGBTQ rights, Esposito got her start in Chicago before trekking to Los Angeles, where she married fellow comedian Rhea Butcher after achieving a slew of personal milestones—hosting a standup show/podcast at UCB called "Put Your Hands Together," appearing on The Late, Late Show, and most recently, helming the sitcom Take My Wife, which is available on Seeso, with Butcher. Esposito appears at NYU Skirball Center on November 4th, so we briefly chatted with her about her first New York standup experience, creating your own content, and why she’s excited about 2017.

How did Take My Wife come about? So, Seeso, which is a really difficult thing to say, wanted me and Rhea to host a standup showcase for them, because that’s what we do here in Los Angeles. We have a show called Put Your Hands Together [at UCB] and they thought maybe we could translate our hosting skills to their network. We were hoping for [something] a little bit more personal to us, so we asked them if we could write some sketches to go in between the stand-up, to come home with us and have it be about our life. They said yes. But when we got in the writers’ room, we found that we were much more interested in that rather than just hosting a stand-up show. We pitched the idea to them after we sold it and were greenlit, which is a pretty unusual thing to do. That’s not how it works ever!

But because Seeso is so new, because they were trying to get behind the vision that the creators on their platform wanted to work with, they were into it. They upped our budget and changed our schedules and worked with Comedy Bang Bang Productions, which is Scott Aukerman’s company, and made it into a real functioning scripted show. Partially because the process was so unique, we really didn’t expect very much from it. I think today when you make a thing, you do it to make the thing, because there’s so much content, but having few expectations is a good way to operate. The show ended up being a success for us, we’re so happy about it.

I like it because it used to be that a comedian’s big break would come after working on stage for so long then you get the network show, but it seems that given the amount of avenues a comedian can go down, there’s no reason to wait anymore. Yeah, I think it's twofold. I’m fifteen years into a comedy career and anytime between now and fifteen years from now is when I'd traditionally have a network show, if I had the chance to have one. There’s people who have them right now who are kinda my peers, and then there’s the Louie [C.K.] model of success, having been at it for however long before he really struck gold with his sitcom. I think it’s also not just “don’t wait,” it’s really that there’s nothing to wait for. The certain network sitcom that runs for ten years and makes your career is dead. Look at somebody like Julia Louis Dreyfuss! She’s had this whole second career helming Veep. She’s restarted from the beginning.

Part of that is the money is distributed differently now. There aren’t just five networks distributing big, big paychecks to five people per show. It’s also just our attention spans are shorter because we’re competing with podcasts and Twitter and the 24-hour news cycle. I think there is still gonna be some network sitcom that breaks the rule that I’m talking about (laughs), but more often we’re gonna see people make something on cable and will run it for however long they want to, then become producers then move onto another project. It really is a great time to be a creator/starring actor, because you have a lot more control of your destiny.

Are there any shows that people might not know on Seeso that you’d like to plug? Well, they have this British show that I think is really big called Monty Python? (Laughs)

Okay! I’ve heard of that! You might’ve heard of it! Seeso has Kids in the Hall and Monty Python and the Saturday Night Live backlog. It’s gonna be the proprietary home for NBC/Universal content. Beyond that, they’re making a ton of great original shows—Flowers, which is from the UK, that people have really been losing their minds about. My friend Jonah Ray has a great show called Hidden America, which just got picked up for a second season, and that’s sort of a satire of Anthony Bourdain-style travel shows.

Kulap Vilaysack has a show called Bajillion Dollar Propertie$, which is improvised, and it’s a parody of those reality real estate shows. So they shoot in L.A. with these beautiful locations that overlook the ocean, but it’s got that Christopher Guest model of working with an outline and making up all the dialogue and has people you might know, like Paul F. Tompkins. So how’s that for a content range?

That’s not bad! I think I can work with all that. Now, this is your first time with the New York Comedy Festival. Why do you think the festival format is still important? The whole point of the festival is to reach beyond your fanbase. When I come to New York, it’s such a great market; I do well there, everybody does well at the festival. There’s nobody at the festival who can’t come to New York on their own, but it is an opportunity to reach people who follow you on Twitter and didn’t even know you were coming. You’ll cover it, we’ll talk on the phone, then people will read this, and hopefully want to be exposed to a new thing. The mindset is, “it’s New York and you’ve seen everything, but you haven’t seen this.”

Do you have a particular New York comedy anecdote? Years ago, almost a decade ago, it may have been my first time. It was a callback for a festival and it was my first time in New York doing stand-up, and I can’t remember where the club was, I think it was on the Lower East Side. Anyway, I was staying with buddies of mine who lived on 84th Street, so I had flown myself out, and I was so stoked and psyched and I told my friends, “Next time you see me I’ll have a new job.” I went on stage and I know, sometimes you eat so much shit during stand-up that you wonder if you should move back in with your parents.

That only happens once every five years. Every now and then you have moments of silence, and then you have sets where you can’t remember if you’ve ever done stand-up before. This was one of those sets. It was a tiny room, I could see the people who represented the festival. I ate shit so hard and walked out the door and didn’t even thank anybody for having me, I just walked back to where I was staying, and I walked more than eighty blocks. It took me like six hours or something. I walked the length of Manhattan.

Which sometimes you just gotta do! I’ve done it, like not maybe that long, and it’s therapeutic. The good news is it’s a long island, which, by the way, is not the Long Island, but still a long island.

One last question: I wanted to know what you were most proud of this year, and what you would like to see happen in 2017? Oh my God... you mean like personally proud of or the universe?

One or both. You’re a trusted voice in both comedy and the universe, I suppose. (laughs) That’s one of the nicest things anyone has said to me. Well, we are going to have a female president in 2016. She’ll be sworn in in 2017, and I’m sorry we had to get here this way. It’s been a difficult time to be a comedian, because there is a clown stealing all the best jokes and passing them off as political statements.

That’s not good! No it’s not! But I think we will have the first black President followed by the first female President. That’s going to happen. What’s happening in comedy is happening everywhere, thanks to the Internet and everything else from over the last decade that has changed up the power dynamic. I think the good news is it’s not politically correct culture that’s coming to the forefront. We’re not just electing some random woman that walked out of the woods in a pantsuit. What’s happening is that people with skills and talent and who have worked really hard are finally getting their opportunity. I think 2017 is going to expand on that even more. I’ve been watching Better Things on FX and Issa Rae’s pilot for HBO, Insecure. I am so excited that the era of Louie and his dominance with that show has given way to the era of Pamela Adlon.

We’re in an awesome moment. Sometimes it feels bad, because it feels that way because we go on the Internet and things feel backlash-y all the time. Things are so raw. The reality is we’re working on it. Two years ago, I can’t say we were working on it this hard. The reason things are fucked up is because there’s been such a huge wave of progress. That’s why people are freaking out, and so cruel on the Internet. That’s why people were so cruel to Leslie Jones because people were terrified of how powerful she is becoming. It’s all backlash from really positive things and I think we will get more comfortable as a country with where we’re at. It’s not about PC culture or throwing Leslie in a movie because that’s the “right” thing to do. She’s fucking funny! She’s the best part of the Olympics. We’re moving into that era. I feel very optimistic.