BETWEEN TAKE MY WIFE—her first TV series on the NBC streaming channel Seeso—a web series on Amy Poehler's Smart Girls network, and appearances at SF Sketchfest, 2016 is shaping up to be an enormous year for comedian Rhea Butcher. As one of a growing number of stand-ups signed to Portland's Kill Rock Stars label, Butcher records her debut album at Mississippi Studios this Sunday. Here's what she told the Mercury about the rise of streaming content, Instagramming her sweater-wearing dog, and the little Portland in her heart.
MERCURY: You've got roots in Akron, Chicago, and LA—what made you choose to record this album in Portland?
RHEA BUTCHER: Portland has played a very large role in my life so far... I visited many times before I started doing stand-up. In some ways, I feel like I have a little Portland in my heart that I carry around with me. I'm really stoked to be recording my album there because not only are the audiences amazing, the label that is putting out my album, Kill Rock Stars, is headquartered there and played a huge role in forming my artistic soul. It's also at Mississippi Studios, which is an amazing venue and a lot of other [Kill Rock Stars] comedians [Kurt Braunohler, Ian Karmel, Cameron Esposito] have recorded there, so it's awesome to be part of the comedy energy in that space.
I'd love to record an album in Akron, because it's my hometown but also because Akron has a pretty amazing music/performance history, too. Devo, Chrissie Hynde, Jim Jarmusch, the Black Keys, and (of course) LeBron James are all from Akron. It's a cool town. I'm really proud to be from Akron. Look for a Live at the Rubber Bowl album in like 10 years.
How do you manage to run a successful podcast, multiple regular shows, and Instagram so many pictures of your small dog in adorable sweaters?
Now that you write it all out like that, it seems like a lot! I am really lucky to have a job that makes me happy every day. In Chicago, I worked in an office nine hours a day and sat at a desk under fluorescent lights and listened to podcasts and hoped that one day, I might be able to be part of comedy in some way—and it's totally come true. It's just like George/Marty McFly said: "If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything."
I am really excited about Take My Wife on Seeso, because it's a show that we've wanted to make for a while now. I don't want to give away too much, but I think it's going to be very funny and you're going to really like it.
I'm also going to be the first human correspondent on No, You Shut Up! with Paul F. Tompkins on Fusion, which I still can barely believe is happening because I love Paul's work and he inspired me to do stand-up in the first place, so the fact that I get to work with him is a dream come true. And it's Henson puppets! What more could you possibly need? Please watch! I'll be wearing a suit. A BEAUTIFUL SUIT...
Honestly, posting photos of my dog in adorable sweaters is what keeps me sane. He's my favorite art project! This is going to sound silly, but many people have told me that they didn't care for or like dogs or animals but when they saw my photos of Murph, the photos changed how they felt. How awesome is that? I know it's just dog photos, but it is art, and art can change the way we see the world and open our eyes to new points of view.
So I guess what I'm saying is, I'm a dog person now. Oh, and follow me on Instagram.
Streaming services like Seeso have really opened up the world of comedy. What are your hopes for it, and how has your experience been so far?
The experience has been awesome. They really want to make great shows and instead of looking for specific show ideas, they have been filling their roster with really talented and hilarious people, and then letting them make the show they want to make.