NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Whether you’ve seen her appearing in films or heard her voice as the narrator behind a popular Netflix show, Michelle Buteau has certainly made a name for herself within the comedy realm.
Buteau will perform at New Haven’s College Street Music Hall on June 16 as a part of the International Festival of Arts & Ideas, marking the festival’s first foray into comedy.
“Buckle up,” Buteau warned News 8 in an exclusive interview, “she’s got opinions and plus-size crop tops, so get used to it.”
While Buteau has spent most of her life making others laugh, she recognizes that comedy is severely important now, more than ever, amid a country plagued by gun violence, racial inequality, and a political divide. She noted, “if you’re not laughing, you’re crying.”
“I’m trying to do good in the world one joke and kitten heel at a time,” Buteau said.
Buteau credits her comedy to her own life experiences and explained that during her sets, she talks about what she knows and feels.
“I’m not going to speak on anyone else’s experiences because I’m not a man or a politician, or both,” she said with a laugh, noting that her set is one big, fun party “like we’re at brunch and just got a free mimosa.”
Hailing from New Jersey, Buteau kicked-off her career with a spot on Comedy Central and went on to appear on Netflix’s The Comedy Lineup. She also landed her own Netflix special, dubbed Michelle Buteau: Welcome to Buteaupia, in 2020, winning the Critics’ Choice Television Award for Best Comedy Special.
Along with her podcast and film appearances, Buteau has also been busy hosting the hit reality show The Circle on Netflix. As a group of people compete each week ranking one another and trying to scope out catfish, Buteau’s voice can be heard narrating each person’s move, offering cheeky comments along the way.
To add to her catalog, Buteau is adapting an eight-episode series with Netflix. Survival of the Thickest, due to begin production later this year, will be based on Buteau’s collection of comedic essays of the same name. She explained that as a writer, she hoped someone would read her work, and now, the collection has fallen into the hands of the right people who want to actually share her stories.
“I feel like Kelly Clarkson in a red dress winning American Idol,” Buteau said, sharing her excitement of the series.
While the series won’t be exactly like the book of personal essays, it’ll still focus on issues Buteau takes to heart: tackling body positivity and fat shaming, being sex and trans-positive, and inclusivity in the world. Even the series’ writing staff is inclusive, including Grey’s Anatomy‘s first nonbinary actor E.R. Fightmaster.
Buteau is grateful for Netflix’s fun home that’s given her a chance to showcase herself as an actor, host, and comic.
“[The Netflix staff] love what they do, and they really want to find content that is not only entertaining, but will promote a conversation – a bigger conversation,” Buteau said. “I think that’s really important because we get bogged down in social media numbers and algorithms and likes. It’s very necessary and important to think outside of that for two whole seconds.”
As a plus size woman thriving in the entertainment industry, Buteau has a message for other women like herself hoping to kick-off a career: “It’s okay to take up the space and be the star.”
“Don’t tell yourself no before people tell you no,” Buteau said. “People won’t understand something that’s fun and different unique, and the things that people make fun of you about or don’t understand are the things that are going to set you apart and have you shine. It’s okay to have an opinion.”
Find tickets to see Buteau’s comedy set on Thursday in New Haven here.