Brooklyn or Amsterdam? (with Michelle Buteau)

Subscribe to Lemonada Premium for Bonus Content

When comedian Michelle Buteau saw elementary school kids practice an active shooter drill, she questioned whether or not America was the right place to raise her newly born twins. Tack on Trump’s presidency and some not-so-choice Supreme Court justices, and her husband’s home country of the Netherlands started to look even more attractive. Sam asks Michelle whether her family’s summer in Amsterdam may turn into a permanent move, the perks of being an expat in Europe, and how her book, “Survival of the Thickest,” turned into a Netflix series.

Follow Michelle Buteau @michellebuteau on Instagram and @MichelleButeau on Twitter. Check out her new Netflix series, “Survival of the Thickest.”

Keep up with Samantha Bee @realsambee on Instagram and @iamsambee on Twitter. And stay up to date with us @LemonadaMedia on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

For a list of current sponsors and discount codes for this and every other Lemonada show, go to

Joining Lemonada Premium is a great way to support our show and get bonus content. Subscribe today at



Michelle Buteau, Samantha Bee

Samantha Bee  00:00

This year marks my 20th anniversary of living in the United States. I used to live in your hat, which I have since moving here learned is what you very kindly call Canada. That’s nice if you look Canada doesn’t do everything right. I mean, we over apologize way too much. Sorry about that. I mean, we do do bacon very well. And our milk is stored in bags, which seems like a mistake, but really isn’t. It is easier to spell. But the one thing that Canada does, incredibly, incredibly well is looking out for working parents, which is why I messed up by not having kids. So I moved to the US. Why was I thinking? Look here in the US we are in the midst of a child care crisis, which everyone should care about because whoever we are now we were all children at one time. Except for Steve Bannon. He mostly emerged from a puddle of slime as a fully formed 52 year old man blob. Look, childcare is expensive. More than half of American families reported they spend over 20% of their income on it. And depending on where you live, it can be way more. And even if you can afford it. More and more early childcare centers continue to shut down. Which means like good luck finding one to send your kids to. And because of the lack of slots available, you basically need to sign your child up at the moment of conception. You know, nothing really ruins the mood after sex more than talking about whether the Montessori style of play is right for your future child. Will my child play with wooden toys or simply acorns and feathers that we find in the park? The childcare crisis is bad for children and it is very bad for working parents. Because of all the cost and the lack of access many parents most often, you guessed it working moms just leave the workforce all together. Because it’s more cost effective to stay home. Like most problems we face as a country it hurts lower income families, families of color the most. This is not a problem unique to America. But the way that America chooses to ignore it is unsurprisingly, uniquely American. For a recent brief, like a tiny blip moment, it actually looked like we might finally get government funding for childcare to the tune of $400 billion in President Biden’s build back better act but Joe Manchin said we can not have that and then back up there on the hat. Canada looks to cap childcare costs at $10 a day. 10 Canadian dollars a day that’s basically free.

Samantha Bee  04:18

This is Choice Words. I’m Samantha Bee. Joining me today is the incredibly funny comedian, author, actor and host Michelle Buteau, and we caught her right in the middle of weighing a real life decision. She’s a mom and she doesn’t know if America is the right place to raise her kids. If you’ve seen her stand up special welcome to utopia or listen to her podcasts adulting and late night whenever or read her memoir collection survival of the thickest which has been adapted as a TV show and is out now on Netflix. Then you know she’s super thoughtful and is taking this decision very seriously. So take a listen and make good choices.

Samantha Bee  05:04

Oh my god, I’m so excited to be talking to you.

Michelle Buteau  05:07

Hi, how are you? It’s been forever in a day.

Samantha Bee  05:11

It’s been so long. And I want to talk about everything that you’re doing because you’re doing so much and I’m so excited for your show that’s coming out and all of this stuff, but okay.

Michelle Buteau  05:21

Thank you so much. Yes.

Samantha Bee  05:22

So I want to talk about the big choices that you’ve made later, but the word choice means something different to everybody. What is your what kind of a choice maker are you like, what does that word bring up to you?

Michelle Buteau  05:37

I was I was thinking about it. It’s hard. It’s hard hard. It’s very hard because I am very decisive until I’m not and then I’m just a hot mess. I’m not like the friend that go goes to a nail shop and it’s just like, I don’t know which beige, you know what I mean? Like it’s a yellow let’s go let’s keep it moving. Yeah, like I’m very Jersey New York that way. We’re like the choice is clear. This is the seat this is a train let’s go yep. But buffets overwhelming. Like if we’re talking about you like why do I need beef stroganoff? En cottage cheese on a plate because it was available? Like I I don’t like too many choices. Keep it simple. Keep it a bitch. Yep, keep it real simple. That’s why I don’t like I love Old School New York diners. But I’m like, Why do you have pages upon pages of item?

Samantha Bee  06:32

I was just gonna say that. I can’t I can’t take it if I sit there. And then the the menu is a giant. It’s like a dossier of every food item that has ever been created on Earth. Yes. All from all different, all different lands.

Michelle Buteau  06:47

Oh, and you know, Gordon Ramsay would not approve all this. She is frozen and microwaved.

Samantha Bee  06:53

I love it. I just want to 10 I want to like 10 choices, and I can find my way through that path.

Michelle Buteau  06:59

100% real love. Thank you Crystal waters. Bye. Thank you. When it comes to an emotional choice. Every decade in my life, I’ve gotten better at listening to my gut instinct. So choices for myself to protect my peace. I’ve got the like, I’m better at that than a buffet.

Samantha Bee  07:24

And trusting kids cuz you dispense advice. Also, as part of what you do. No one should take it. But yes, I think your advice is very good. And that says to me that you’re very good at like weighing things you’re very good at like, Hmm, like finding your way finding a path through like a thorny issue. Yes, like when you have like a big career move or something like, I don’t know, like the idea. Because I’m sure this comes up for you. I’m like, where should I live? Like, do I have to move to LA to stay in New York? Like, yeah, to those things, like, keep you up at night? And are you kind with yourself? And you’re like, I’m gonna give them out every single option for two weeks, and that at the end of two weeks, my body’s gonna know what to do.

Michelle Buteau  08:07

Yeah, I don’t even put like a, like a time stamp on it anymore. Because, you know, I always liken things to a diet or like taking care of yourself, because for so many years, people are like, you got to lose weight. He, like, you know, it was like, do I or do I just have to be healthy. And then one day, I just woke up, I’m like, I’m tired all the time. And I don’t want to be tired, I want to have energy. And I woke up and I started exercising, and running and running half marathons. And then I was like, oh my god, I love this. And so I just feel like sometimes you have to live through that dark gray area to like, you know, understand what that is to get to the other side, right? So in terms of comedy, and this weird, crazy profession that somehow we have ended up in, you know, there is that there is like, I have to go to Montreal to be a real comedian. I have to go to LA to like, you know, be taken seriously. Right? But you don’t, you know, I thought that I was supposed to get married in a white wedding dress, right? And do all the things everybody else is supposed to do that was like society told me and I’m like, oh, or I can just create my own life. Live my own fucking truth, not judge other people for doing whatever the fuck they want to or don’t want to do. And you know, just have people in your life that make you want to be a better person. Oh, you know what I mean? But that’s a fucking minute. And so right now I’m in Amsterdam, with my husband and our kids for the summer to take a whole last break from America but also kind of see if I can hack living here. So I saw at a grade school, practice a shooter drill. Okay, little seven and eight year olds is lining up. Like it’s and I remember fire drills. And I remember being like, scared but also excited like oh my God what’s gonna happen and I can’t, I can’t even imagine what these kids are going through or their parents the fact that they don’t even know how to spell their name properly, yet they know what to do. If someone has a gun shook me to my core where I was like I am in the right circles. I have the right friends. I vote the right way I do the things I’m supposed to do. And still yet I’m living in this crazy fucking place. Right? So this is the first time like, I’m at a crazy crossroads where I’m like, What’s the choice gonna be? Right? I thought it was like, get new security in our house and redo our kitchen. It’s not it’s maybe just live somewhere else?

Samantha Bee  10:45

Right? Oh, wow, you’re like really at a crossroads? Like you’re just I am instant take a really long time. Probably to figure it out in a way you just have to a couple years. Couple of years. Yeah. And your kids are young enough to that they have like, they’re your kids are pretty young. So Right. Like, yeah, they have time to be flexible with their schedules and stuff like that.

Michelle Buteau  11:08

Yeah, I don’t want to uproot them, you know, once they really sort of, like, figure out who they are. But also like, who are they going to be in the Bronx? I don’t know. Well, they’re gonna be I don’t know. So it’s an interesting time for all of us. And even my husband who was born and raised here. You know, when you prepare to leave your home, forever, coming back, you’re different. It’s different, you know, so, we’re all trying to find Nemo, Honey, what’s it gonna do? What’s it gonna be?

Samantha Bee  11:41

Does it surprise you that you were even open to the idea? To live in Amsterdam?

Michelle Buteau  11:47

When I’m a New Yorker, I love my friends. You know, I’m going to be 46 in a few weeks. And I feel like at this point, I really figured out who gets to stay and who should go in my life. Right. And that’s a really fun place. And we have a great home and, you know, all the things that I wanted to do everything on my bucket list as a performer I’m doing Yeah. So I’m like, Why would I go essentially start over? Not necessarily my career, but definitely like, don’t have to go through all these like dumb basic bitches again, to get to find the right ones. are gonna be Oh, God is the nicest way of saying it.

Samantha Bee  12:28

How many bitches do I have to go through to get? That is so interesting. How did you guys come to this place where you were? Did you like sit together? And you were like, Listen, I’m so uncomfortable. I don’t know what to do. It. Can we just throw a bunch of stuff at the wall and see if any ideas land.

Michelle Buteau  12:50

It wasn’t really like spaghetti theory. It really started when Trump was in office. Yeah. And then we had kids. And we were like, What is this culture? Like? We don’t, I don’t understand. Like, this is not what we signed up for when we were like, We’re gonna live in an overpriced, very small Brooklyn brownstone. This is not what we said. Then, you know, the more shootings the right. The more horrible Supreme Court judges like the just the list never got better. It just kept getting worse. Right. And then his friend started moving back to Holland. And they’re like, it’s pretty great here, man. Like, I feel better.

Samantha Bee  13:39

right? Is there is there incredible health care? I’m assuming the health care is better, too. It’s, it’s better. It’s better everywhere else.

Michelle Buteau  13:48

Which is crazy. There’s drinking water for everybody. It doesn’t matter what country you’re from. There’s open borders like right? I’m not saying this shit. Isn’t that she is perfect. There’s racism everywhere. But there’s no guns.

Samantha Bee  14:02

Right? That feels fundamental.

Michelle Buteau  14:06

I’m not like one from one of those families who are just like grew up hunting. It’s just like, right? Oh, my uncle like, No, we never did that shit.

Samantha Bee  14:14

No, no, we never did that. In my family. We were like, guns. What? Why?

Michelle Buteau  14:19

Yeah, I don’t know why some people in Canada like go shoot, or something people do.

Samantha Bee  14:25

I mean, there’s hunting but it’s not like trying to go to Starbucks with a holster and a weapon. Like it’s not allowed. Not like yeah, allowed to have police guns or like stuff like you just like not allowed to carry a weapon. If you weren’t carrying a weapon. People would be like, Oh my God, we have to get away from this person.

Michelle Buteau  14:45

That’s not normal. It feels like an alternate reality. I remember performing somewhere in Texas where I went to Chili’s and after my show, I just wanted a margarita in some Spanish dip. This just finished but I’m just like putting my face where you Do your feelings, okay? Or No Country for Old Men and I had to fill out a form because it was a dry county. Yet I looked around and everybody had a gun, right? And I’m like, so I can’t get a margarita, but people can just have guns.

Samantha Bee  15:18

Feeling so safe with everybody completely, like, just armed to the tetes. Like oak is crazy. She told me years ago, I want I filmed a piece. It was like for The Daily Show so long ago, where it was in Texas, and it was this man who wanted to teach blind children how to hunt. And his whole setup was that he would take blind children into the forest and just have them shoot guns into the woods. And obviously, I was there to be like, this is this children. There’s so many things that these children can use in their life like resources, things that are that they could really benefit from. I just not sure and he had like a, he had like one of those like 44, magnums and these like kids were just shooting like a 44 Magnum, no into oblivion. Like they didn’t even know what was on the other side.

Michelle Buteau  16:14

No, that’s not. Yeah. Who asked for that? Nobody.

Michelle Buteau  16:21

Oh my god. Sure. So I used to be an editor for the local news. And I really want to be a journalist. But I had a professor tell me that I was too fat to be on camera. And you know, this was in the mid 90s. And, you know, he, I don’t think he was wrong. Like, I didn’t see anyone that looked like me. Like, there was Oprah. And that was it. And like, even then it was like, That’s Oprah. No one can be Oprah. Right. And so I decided to go into production because I really just loved creating something. And I really wanted to have a job where every day felt different. But as I was editing the local news and doing field producing, they would always send me to like the hood, when there was a fire there, like, sent him to the ghetto. She could talk to anyone about anything. And my writers, my producers, my line producers, everyone was just like, you should do comedy. You’re really funny. And I’m like, Thank you, but I would go to comedy shows and comedians just seems so sad and depressed and like, they love to smoke weed and like nobody was getting laid. And I’m like, I’m happy. I like money. I like my parents. I comedy is not for me. Like I don’t understand what this but also that was like, all there was.

Samantha Bee  16:21

I’m sure the blind children were like, please, I don’t want this. This doesn’t feel safe. We’ll be right back with Michelle Buteau after this. I’m just a huge fan of yours. And so I observe your career I kind of like know about your life. I hope it’s not creepy. But I Oh, try to stay abreast of things. And I know that you chose to pivot to comedy after 911. And I think it’s such an interesting story. Would you mind sharing about that? That’s a huge choice. That’s a big swing.

Samantha Bee  21:52

Like divorce. Like everybody’s everybody talks about their divorces, and some pretty really casual racism.

Michelle Buteau  22:01

This shit is the shit was so dark, and still is so sad sometimes where I’m like, is this real? Is this a bad joke? Is this a cry for help? Is it D all the above? And 911 happened and I was working overnight shifts. And 911 happened right at 9:11am. Actually, I was supposed to be off at 9:30am We thought it was an accident. It was it was it was just living a horror movie in real time. And I remember our news director, after like, 15 hours of editing, and getting news in video. And she said, you can leave at your own will or stay at your own risk. And whoever decides to stay with us for the upcoming months, we will provide you with therapy because you’ll need it. And I don’t maybe I was just like exhausted and cuckoo could chew but I’m like, Oh, I don’t need therapy. I’m going to try stand up now. Like I might die. So I might as well just try this stand up. Right. And so the first time I did stand up was September 14 2001. Oh, like three days later?

Samantha Bee  23:14

How did it go?

Michelle Buteau  23:16

It was good. It was fun. It was. I don’t know if it was funny, but it was definitely a release. Right? Right. You know what, like, when I first started, it was like, self deprecating, like, sure. You know, I’m big boned. Did French. Just bullshit. But yeah, I like to.

Samantha Bee  23:35

Did you feel like at the very least, like, even though, you’re starting out and you’re like, I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t really know what I’m doing. I’m just like, kind of. I’m just kind of doing what I think I should be doing. I’m not sure. Did you feel it’s on some level that you were like, Oh, I think I’ll just keep doing this. This feels right. This feels exactly..

Michelle Buteau  23:54

The same feeling I had when I met my husband. Like, I don’t have no idea what I’m doing. But I just know I want to do it tomorrow.

Samantha Bee  24:01

Ah, love this.

Michelle Buteau  24:03

You know what I mean? And I still feel like that. Like, I don’t know if we’re doing this right. Maybe we should have more patients or drink more login juice. I don’t know what we’re doing. But yeah, I still want to do it.

Samantha Bee  24:20

It’s so much. This is the key to life. Yeah, just like on your choices and just go wow, I did my best.

Michelle Buteau  24:27

All I could do is try for myself without you know. My mom and I love each other dearly. But I don’t know that we would be friends if we weren’t related. Because she is very consumed by sis like society and what people think and being proper. And I am the fucking opposite. Like we both want to make people feel comfortable and good. But just in different ways, like Yeah, so I’ve had to fight that a lot. And so the only thing I really wish for my kid it like if if they’re embarrassed by me that okay, but the takeaway is like, live for you, right? Just don’t live for me. It’s your body. These are your choices like, right yeah, I remember my mom used to cover my freckles and straighten my hair before we’d go to church and I’m just like full What if I think God don’t mind.

Samantha Bee  25:27

I have a photograph of my mom on my wall and she has like really short, tight, like curly blonde hair in the slick good picture. She’s like six years old or whatever it short, little tight blonde, like, like a little Shirley Temple or whatever. But my mom has served very straight like bone straight, dark brown, like chestnut hair. So when she was like, from the age of four, my grandmother used to take her to the hair salon to have her hair. bleached blonde, tightly coiled and a perm. Why would Yeah, cuz she was like, I should have had a child that looked like Shirley Temple. Like, that’s what I was destined to have. So I’m just gonna create, I’m gonna make that. So I keep that picture. It’s so funny to me. And like, tragic and funny. Just like why Alright, a perm, a perm and bleached blonde hair?

Michelle Buteau  26:23

And for who?

Samantha Bee  26:26

Why, because do you think God told you that you needed to have like a tap dancing child that gets insanity?

Michelle Buteau  26:35

I’m gonna have a Shirley Temple, I will pour a little bit out for your mom and be like, thank you to you, girl.

Samantha Bee  26:40

This is for you. This is for all those those split ends that you had when you were six. Okay, can I talk to Kitt? Okay. I, I want to, is it okay, if I talk about the road to becoming a parent for you? Because it’s so yeah, interesting, really interesting, because you’ve been so open about it. So your road to parenting was so intentional. You’ve talked about it so much. And so it’s so you’ve been so helpful to other people? Oh, I hope so. Like for people who don’t know who are listening, you did rounds of IVF. And then you had twins through a surrogate. And surrogacy wasn’t even actually legal in New York when you did it. And you have fought and then you lobbied you lobby to make it legal? Yeah. How did you decide to get involved in the lobbying process? Were you just like, this was so difficult. I can’t I want things to be better.

Michelle Buteau  27:37

Yeah, you know, it was on my to do list because COVID hit, we had babies. And my book came out in December 2020. So I was doing a lot of press for my book, or even before I don’t like was a blur. But I was doing press for my book. And people, you know, would ask me about the twins. And I would always I would say they’re great. However, they’re, I only get to have them because I have the surrogate and she was amazing. And they’re walking angels on earth. And I can’t believe that it’s, you know, illegal in New York, unless you’re related to the person and it’s like, why are we not setting women up for success? Like, I’m so tired of old white men making laws for other people’s bodies, when they don’t understand what like alternative love is? And why do we even say it’s alternative, it’s just fucking loves love. And, um, I was on Wendy Williams and Andy Cohen saw my interview with her and his child and my twins are like two weeks apart. So we basically have a parallel surrogacy journey and didn’t even know it. And so he got my number reached out to me, he’s like, look, it’s in the budget, I have been lobbying for a minute. I just need more people on board, specifically, straight people. Because people can’t wrap their mind around, like, gay love, or rich. And I was like, This is insane. And so I was like, this is been on my to do list. Of course, I feel comfortable talking about this. It’s just like, I only feel better or like I’m working through something when I hear somebody else talk about it. And when I talk about it, and I feel like there’s a lot of value to it, and you don’t have to share with everybody and you do have to be prepared for other people’s opinions. But ultimately, you will feel better if you do share. Right?

Samantha Bee  29:27

Like the more people talk about things, I feel like it’s just opening these things up is so beneficial to people how to bring the cost down. I know I can we don’t even have a government that will pony up for family leave, let alone I know, let alone something as cost prohibitive.

Michelle Buteau  29:48

This is kind of like why I am thinking about leaving America too, because I don’t know why. Being able to take care of yourself. should feel like a luxury. Right? I don’t know why.

Samantha Bee  30:04

Hold that thought more with Michelle Buteau after one more breakChoose projects now. How do you decide what you’re going to? How do you? How do you choose things now?

Michelle Buteau  32:38

Oh my god, what a great question. How do you choose? This is a good question.

Samantha Bee  32:44

Well, I do have a method actually, I have like a kind of a technical thing that I do, which is I have like three different. I have the set of three things. Three criteria. Yeah. One is, is it like extremely personally fulfilling? Like, is it checking a box that is like an unexplored part of myself? Something that I will find very fulfilling, and I’ll grow from it, whether it’s like if it’s scary or growth. So it’s like, Will I personally learn from this and have a great experience? Potentially? Number two is is it so financially beneficial? That it would be crazy not to do it? Like? Do you know that my family is going to benefit from it? Or it’s going to put something into place? Like, you know, we have three kids that go to college? Like will it make a difference financially that it makes it worth it? And the third thing is will it affect my family too negatively? Because if I’m away from my family too much, I don’t enjoy my own life and everything that causes chaos. And I feel that even if a project is very great. If it doesn’t meet two of those three things, I don’t do it. I say no to it. Yeah, it has to check at least two of those three boxes in some combination. Or I just say no. Just walking away.

Michelle Buteau  34:07

I mean, I don’t want to be like Ditto. But yeah, ditto.

Samantha Bee  34:14

Good. It’s good.

Michelle Buteau  34:16

It’s really. good because you couldn’t find someone else who would do it for a lot less than they need that experience. And I saw I saw this interview with Gabrielle Union. And somebody asked her about her skincare How do you stay looking so young or whatever? Basic question. It was. Yeah. And she was like, I drink a lot of water. And she’s like, and I say no to a lot of stuff. And she’s like when you say no to stuff you’re really like blocking chaos from your life. And I’m like Yeah, girl, I feel you. That’s a good way how you say look at your I don’t need Botox. I’m just gonna say Nobody bullshit. That sounds amazing.

Samantha Bee  35:02

Saying notable shit jobs. I feel like I learned that lesson the first time from Oprah, actually really her she would go she one big thing that she talks about was like the power of No, it was like saying no to things that don’t. They deserve you. They don’t serve you. You can you’re allowed to say no. And I think yes, that’s a very hard lesson to learn.

Michelle Buteau  35:25

Yes. And also because you feel like you have to say yes to everything. Because essentially, in the beginning, you kind of do you have to like, figure out, like who you are, and you don’t know who you are, unless you I always say it’s like Julia Roberts Runaway Bride, you got to figure out how you like your eggs. You know, kiss a lot of frogs. Yeah, do a little dance. Make a little love. Figure out how you like eggs.

Samantha Bee  35:49

And you can get paranoid that no one’s ever gonna hire you again. You can feel like oh, it’s like yeah, superstitious. Get a little superstitious about it.

Michelle Buteau  35:56

Like I used to feel like that and I don’t anymore because I simply cannot put the power in anyone else’s hands but mine. And that is really how I sleep at night. I find joy in my day, even though I’m tired. And if someone passes on me, I’m like, that’s your bad because I I think after having five miscarriages and four years and just doing stand up comedy traveling around with a bunch of needles and progesterone suppositories that I had to pay $75 A piece for to do three times a day. But if it’s a pill for a man, it is free. But because it’s for me, it’s just like, No, let’s punish you. And after I realized no one has my back, right? No one cares about me. I am just a statistic truly. I’m like, Well, fuck it, mice will have some fucking fun. So I guess that’s a big choice that I made. And it takes a while to get there. But it’s not us that needs to catch up to the world. It’s the world that needs to catch up to us. Right? Right. So fucking do you. And not in hashtags. Don’t do it on the internet, do it in real life.

Samantha Bee  37:03

in real life, it’s like you’ve walked through fire. And now you know, and that’s your work is also just creating your own material and presenting it and knowing that someone out there someone’s gonna like it. Someone’s gonna love it. And you’re like, This is me. I hope you’ll yeah, I hope you like it. But if you don’t, we’ll move. Keep it moving. Go find someone you do.

Michelle Buteau  37:25

Yes. Because I feel better. Like, I feel better doing it. And if they don’t like it, that’s okay. It’s not meant for them. It’s meant for somebody else.

Samantha Bee  37:34

Right? Oh my god. I love it so much. It’s very affirming talking to you. I’m just you’re saying oh things. I love to hear my friend in here for Electress. Okay, can we please talk about survival of the thickest?

Michelle Buteau  37:53

I wrote a book.

Samantha Bee  37:54

First of all, you wrote an awesome book. So funny. And it’s like, tender. It’s great. And thank you. And now you have adapted it. Can you tell me about that?

Michelle Buteau  38:06

When I brought the twins home from the hospital. I had been talking about writing a book for way too long. And I hate and one of my pet peeves is when when like people talk about something and ever do it. We’re gonna do it. And then Simon is Shoo, shoo. They were on board, and I got the check. And it felt like a Rodney Dangerfield movie where I’m like, I got the check. Now I gotta do it. Right. And I thought I would have time to write because I had kids. And I was like, what were you thinking? kind of write down who peed and pooped is especially me because I’m like, I don’t know what the day is. And we were supposed to have a meeting and I totally forgot that we were supposed to have a meeting like that tired. I was like, Oh my God. And it’s so funny accents like an inside joke between me and my agent every time he calls me. I’m like, oh, no, am I supposed to meet CMV and I forgot. years later I’m still like laces out like pet detective everybody. She’s old. Anyways, my references are definitely older than Taylor Swift or at least as young as her curly hair was speaking of curly hair, she had curly hair, something happens to women when they have curly hair, they start to straighten it when they have money they did anyways, wrote the book didn’t think anybody would read it just did it for me. I remember talking to a bunch of like book agents and like people like working on the book and stuff and they’re like, but we have to do this in order to you know, have it be on the New York Times bestsellers list and I’m just like, are we have to get these quotes from famous people. I’m just like, people are people. I don’t want quotes from anyone I just want like really gorgeous picture of like my size 18 waist and my top city meet. Period. My husband’s a photographer he took great pictures and I don’t give a fuck about your list like that. You’re doing shit for the wrong reason. If you’re doing it to be liked, right? I’m doing it to just like scratch that itch and get it done and Oh, I’m so glad it got into like, the right hands because someone at Netflix was like, let’s make this into a show. And, you know, my friends that are always very exhausted and impatient and just like really waiting for their moment. I’m always like, this is the moment. You know, like, when you’re hiking up a fucking mountain. It isn’t all when you’re at the top. It’s like all those moments in between of it being hard and amazing, and crazy and terrible, and you feel sick, like, you have to find at least I do joy, or some sort of lesson and all that shit. Like, right now I’m trying none. I’m like traveling with my kids everywhere. I’m trying to teach them joy or something fun in standing in the line. I’m like, You have to understand what patience is because you’re gonna be standing in a line your whole fucking life. You know, this isn’t personal right now. So like, let’s figure it out. And so, you know, when they said they want to make it a show. I was like, oh my god, this is like, this is what I’ve been waiting for. You know what I’m so glad it happened in my 40s after being through a lot of shit. This is where I tell my friends too, because when shit does happen, your weight goes your way. And you are in these big meetings in these rooms where you have to stand up for yourself and like, fight for your decision and your opinion, as if it’s like a Thanksgiving dinner with your in laws, right? You want to be prepared for that. You don’t want to bend and say, okay, whatever you think if that’s not how you’re feeling inside. So it’s like, it happens when it’s supposed to happen. And you definitely should trust your voice. Yeah, and that’s a great thing with at least what should happen when you get older is that you can trust your voice. So it was very, it was a great experience going into it and working with Netflix in this capacity because I wasn’t just showing up in like city shaking and going high. Right? We were like building out a world and I’ve never done that before and like I’ve never had to sit and get notes right for hours after like pouring my heart and soul out on pages to like, get it dissected. But wow, that should it makes everything better.

Samantha Bee  42:17

It’s incredible. Like finding understanding that your your voice is your voice and what is what everyone is in the room to talk about. Is your actual your vision. Yeah. And sometimes you can get you can get waylaid you can get taken down a path and you’ll always have to come back to that core.

Michelle Buteau  42:37

Yeah, get your ridezilla on whatever you think that is do that shit. Is your day is your day, bitch. Yeah. And it was also great. My character is 38 years old lol I’m 45 I’m like, Can I do it? Of course I can. Bitches please. Black don’t crack and patient age. Thank you, Prince so much. But um, a lot of my friends in their late 30s They have been at all different types of crossroads, right? Are they going to get a divorce? Are they going to get married? Are they going to have that kid on their own? Are they going to take that job and move to China and never see their like family again. And so a lot of people think it’s 30 or 35. But from what I’ve seen, at least in my circle is the late 30s, where you’re entering this new decade in your life, and you really have to figure out who you’re going to be. And so that’s the place I want to start from. Also not giving too much away, my character gets cheated on in the first episode. Because every man in my family has cheated. There’s a lot of half siblings and cousins and shit. It’s very Caribbean that way. And I’ve only seen women in my life really rebuild themselves in their life after being cheated on including me. And so yeah, that’s what I’ll say about the show. And then also, then the last thing I’ll say, too, I’m so proud of it, because especially what’s going on this conversation between what a trans person is or what non binary is or what a being on the binary all the things that people don’t understand and have an opinion about? It’s I’m so glad that we were able to make this an episode or two or three because we do have non binary actors, and peppermint who is a female black trans performer who was also on drag race back in the day. So I’m just so excited for representation too, because it doesn’t happen unless like, for me, it feels like it doesn’t happen unless it’s like a sob story. And I’m like, No, we’re just out here existing. We’re just out here trying to live our lives.

Samantha Bee  44:51

It sounds to me like it’s like a similar approach to like when you started. Stand up in the sense that you were like, well, I can only tell. I can just say To say what I know is true and that’s that I’m a joyful person.

Michelle Buteau  45:07

Put on a V neck and some lip gloss and fucking fun. Thank you.

Samantha Bee  45:11

Are you doing stand up in Amsterdam? What’s that? If so, are you taking a break?

Michelle Buteau  45:17

I’m going to do one show. Okay. Um, I might do a second show, but I am going to do a boutique tour. This fall called full heart tight jeans. So I always say My heart is filled with me jeans are tight because it’s true. And yeah, I’ve been working on stuff, but I’m in no rush. Right? Because yeah, I you know, it’s you don’t always have to make the donuts you don’t I mean, like, Yeah, I think a lot of stand up comedians who are really talented, but this stupid pressure on themselves to churn stuff out. But that’s not what like beautiful standup is that you want to like, quote back to your friends. It’s like, really fun. Well, just curated life stories that we want to repeat. And so I am in no rush to put up another special I am excited to do a handful of cities. Because again, I want to go home, I want to sleep in my own bed. I like my husband. I like my own toilet. I love my kids. Not necessarily in that order. I have two huge dogs that take the biggest lumps. I love them, too. I love them, too. And so yeah, I’m gonna do a show in Holland, it is very interesting now because people sort of know who I am. And it just makes it better. I’m not gonna lie, it makes it fucking better wherever I go. Because the one thing was stand up for the first 18 years, was the first five to 10 minutes, especially as a lady one onstage just trying to have people trust you to know that you’re funny. And then I would get them on board. And that’s just like, that’s just exhausting. And so it’s nice to show up for people who know what they’re gonna get and enjoy themselves because they know, refunds. refunds.

Samantha Bee  47:06

Don’t you just you’re just like, can you just start enjoying it? Like, from the get go? Like, right from the jump? Can we just all agree that we were going to enjoy this experience?

Michelle Buteau  47:15

It’s like, I’m not trying to sneak in the vegetables.

Samantha Bee  47:19

Is it different performing for a European audience? Are they more sophisticated or just more topless? Like, do they are they are they just like the same level of it’s just sort of the same.

Michelle Buteau  47:31

You know, it’s really different now, because there’s a lot more expats now. And there’s a lot of there’s a lot more interracial relationships, international relationships. And, you know, streaming services have definitely made the world a smaller place and like, in a better way for the stage. So you can reference like the bear and people like have seen it. And you know, you do I feel like have to go, we just go a bit slower. People are still translating Friday, I see a lot of comedians get in their head, and they’re like, Oh, you don’t get it. And she’s like, you do get it, but they’re gonna laugh in their mind because they don’t have time to laugh because you haven’t given them that space to laugh. So I think doing all that, and I think if you’re performing in another country, it’s always good to write at least five to 10 minutes of shit that you’ve seen because they love that and why wouldn’t you want to like, use your brain?

Samantha Bee  48:23

They want to like laugh at themselves. So like, yes, we do. Yes, we do carry a lot of baguettes in our bags.

Michelle Buteau  48:31

We’re gonna say […]

Samantha Bee  48:38

Oh my god. Okay, I have enjoyed talking to you so much. It’s been a fun hang. Like what a fun hang. I just hope that this I hope that your your sojourn in Amsterdam is awesome. And I hope you like let your brain unspool from all the work and everything you’ve been doing and like in the best possible way. Thank you, Val. That feels it feels so nice to just like to imagine what is possible when you’ve had a chance to like actually unwind and live life totally differently. Yeah, right. Yeah, it will be possible.

Michelle Buteau  49:21

Anything who knows anything? It’s pretty insane. I’m gonna get Yeah, I will say my crotch hurts though from the bike riding but everything else is wonderful.

Samantha Bee  49:29

You gotta get a nice padded gotta get a gel seat. Who’s nice to gel addition to your bike.

Michelle Buteau  49:36

I’ll put it on my Kwanzaa list. We’re ready that says go.

Samantha Bee  49:41

My God. Thank you so much.

Michelle Buteau  49:42

Thank you.


That was Michelle Buteau. And I had no choice but to Google one thing after our conversation, how good actually is the health care in the Netherlands? Okay. Yeah, it’s good. It’s ranked third in the 2022 World Index of healthcare innovation. While I’m not totally entirely sure what that means it’s definitely better than here. Thank you Michelle for coming on. And good news, there’s more choice words with Lemonada Premium. Subscribers get exclusive access to bonus content like a rapid fire round of trivia questions based off my recent interview with Judy Blume. Subscribe now in Apple podcasts.

Spoil Your Inbox

Pods, news, special deals… oh my.