Most stand-up comics can only dream of the kind of prime-time television debut that Cameron Esposito had.
The 34-year-old comedian's appearance on "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson" started with a successful set and ended with Jay Leno exclaiming that she's "the future" and that "lesbians rule."
"The next morning people started calling. ... It might have been the greatest thing that could ever happen to a comic their first time on television, to have two late night hosts approve that comic," Esposito told CNBC. While some entertainers might have been too afraid to push their luck, Esposito made sure to capitalize on it.
"You're selling a product. It's just that the product is yourself. ... You have to be the art and you have to be the art dealer," she said. Esposito explained that standup is all about getting the audience on board with what the performer has to say.
Esposito's father was a small businessman in Chicago, something she told CNBC helped foster the way that she treats herself as a business.
"I grew up in this family where you make your own opportunities and you get your own clients and you knock down doors," Esposito said. "When I started doing standup, I was an artist — I'd always been an artist — but I think I always thought of myself as a small businessperson."
"It's a cool part of this job because actually it's a product that I believe in. I wouldn't be doing standup if I didn't think that I had a voice and I had a reason to be here," Esposito added.
Esposito admits that the business aspect isn't always her favorite.
"The only negative is that it's very exhausting and lonely, trying to sell yourself all the time. After a while, you're like 'this is very arrogant,' but if you can just deal with that part, you'll be OK," she said. In spite of the less appealing parts of the job, Esposito still loves what she does.
"There was never a time that I thought this wasn't worth it. From the moment that I started doing standup specifically, not just comedy in general, but standup, this just feels like a real calling," she said.
"It doesn't mean that I was good at it to begin with. It just means I was always like 'I want to get better at this.' It's the only thing that's ever kept my attention, besides my wife," Esposito said, adding that the key to success in entertainment is being able to sustain the passion for it.
"You have to want to do this forever. There's no finish line."