Cameron Esposito and Rhea Butcher had an idea for a show about two lesbian comics who get married and perform together. In other words, their real life.
"I Love Lucy, except we're both ... Lucy Loves Lucy," they joke to NPR's Ari Shapiro. "Also we're both Desi at the same time. It's a little bit of both." The pitch worked. Their show is called Take My Wife, and it's out now on the NBC-owned streaming channel Seeso.
Esposito and Butcher got married last year, and Butcher says making the show has been "an amazing experience, but it has been a living nightmare." Especially because most of what's in the show has actually happened — "It was very confusing," Esposito chimes in, "because we have a bed that we sleep in together, there's also a bed on set. By the end of production I was having dreams that our director and our DP, our director of photography, were in our bedroom with us, filming us at night."
On making a show about queer characters that isn't tragic
Esposito: What a gift it is to be able to be, sort of the first generation of people in the LGBT community that can have a happy ending. Like, we can just get married. And we can just have jobs, and it can be normative.
Butcher: We wanted to make a show that was about what comes after [coming out], and how important it is to have a couch for your girlfriend's parents.
On doing comedy together
Esposito: So often, relationships are a topic that people mine in stand-up. It's a lot of straight male standups on stage talking about women that are off stage. And now, female comics are much more prevalent, so we are hearing the opposite perspective. But what I love about working with Rhea is that you don't have to believe me about what our relationship is like — here's somebody else telling the same story from a different perspective about what our relationship is like.
On the tension in the show between Cameron as an established comic and Rhea, who's just starting out
Butcher: It had begun to change when we were writing this, because when we first moved to Los Angeles, I essentially was an open-mic-er, you know, that was my level. But I've since recorded and released a stand-up album ... and it came out at number one on iTunes, and so many things have happened and gone really well, and I feel very good about where I'm at. And it really was cathartic to put that in the show.
Esposito: One thing that I know is that Rhea will catch up to me, because if you want to do this as a lifelong career and you're lucky enough to have a long life, you're going to be going through an enormous amount of ups and downs. And I have believed since I met Rhea that she has this inherent talent and this viewpoint and so much to say, and it's really wonderful to see Rhea believing that and getting that feedback from the outside world as well. And at the same time, I'm going to fight to be better than her for the rest of my life, because that's what being a comic is.
ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
When Bob Dylan won the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature this morning, he joined a lineage that includes Harold Pinter, Thomas Mann and Toni Morrison. NPR's Neda Ulaby looks at how Dylan fits into this group.
NEDA ULABY, BYLINE: In 1965, Bob Dylan was asked at a press conference if he saw himself more as a singer or a poet.
(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)
BOB DYLAN: I think of myself more as song and dance man, you know.
ULABY: Still, the Swedish Academy honored him and - its words - for creating new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition. The academy's secretary compared Dylan to Homer and Sappho for poems...
SARA DANIUS: ...That were meant to be listened to. They were meant to be performed, often together with instruments.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LIKE A ROLLING STONE")
ULABY: Dylan's poetry is timeless, says Bill Wyman. He's a writer who a few years ago made a case for Dylan winning the Nobel Literature Prize in The New York Times.
BILL WYMAN: There's "Like A Rolling Stone."
DYLAN: (Singing) You're invisible now you've got no secrets to conceal.
WYMAN: We look at that 50 years later, and we think - doesn't that describe someone who's online? We're invisible, we don't see each other, and yet we have no secrets because we've lost all our privacy. And again and again, his words just - there's a whip crack across decades.
ULABY: Dylan brought high poetic traditions into the popular vernacular. He was influenced by the French symbolists, the beats, the song book of Woody Guthrie and the rural musicians he claimed to have met, as he told an interviewer on public radio station WNYC in 1961.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Well, can you read music?
(SOUNDBITE OF WNYC BROADCAST)
DYLAN: No, I can't, but this here song's a good example. I learned from a farmer in South Dakota. And he played the autoharp. His name's Wilbur - (singing) was old farmer that lived in the county nearby.
ULABY: Just consider, says Bill Wyman, the scope of Bob Dylan's lyrical canon for the past 50 years.
DYLAN: (Singing) The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind.
WYMAN: Everything from "Blowing In The Wind," which is a very simple folk parable to "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall," which is a sprawling, almost Dantean look at everything from nuclear war to families and journeys and reinventing oneself.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "A HARD RAIN'S A-GONNA FALL")
DYLAN: (Singing) I'm a-going back out before the rain starts a-falling. I'll walk to the depths of the deepest dark forest.
ULABY: Bob Dylan told NPR in 2004 what it means to have so many people take so much from his music.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)
DYLAN: I don't pay any attention to it anymore, so I was trying to reconstruct the feeling of what it does feel like to have anything like that thrown at you, where you're expected to be something that you just flat-out know you're not.
ULABY: Even at the age of 75, Bob Dylan still performs constantly - close to a hundred concerts a year. If you want to see him December 10, it might help to be in Stockholm, where Bob Dylan will be awarded his Nobel Prize. Neda Ulaby, NPR News.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "STANDING IN THE DOORWAY")
DYLAN: (Singing) There are things I could say, but I don't. I know the mercy of God must be near. I've been riding the midnight train. I've got ice water in my veins. I would crazy if I took... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.