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MARGARET CHO

Comedian Margaret Cho brings her 'Fresh Off The Bloat Tour' to The Ridgefield Playhouse

Linda Koonz 11/2/19

Margaret Cho brings her comedy to The Ridgefield Playhouse Nov. 15.

Margaret Cho grew up in San Francisco and began writing jokes at 14. By the time she was 16, she was performing professionally. Today she has a strong sense of self and is not shy about tackling topics that some may consider taboo.

She also knows she's considered a pioneer among women in comedy, and agrees that's true. "Yes, yes, yes," she says. "I am, because of what I'm doing and what I've always done."

Cho, 50, says you have to be brave to do comedy and she knows "many people have taken this journey because of my work." On her current worldwide tour, "Fresh Off The Bloat," which launched in 2017, she tackles subjects from addiction and abuse to activism and what it means to be Asian.

The tour stops at The Ridgefield Playhouse, Friday, Nov. 15. Cho spoke about it, as well as her upcoming appearance on NBC's "Law & Order: SVU," in a phone chat. She also shared what happened the first time she met Jerry Seinfeld.

"It's gonna be fun," she said, of her Ridgefield stand-up gig. "There's a lot of stuff on the climate, impeachment, race, sexuality, menopause and truth."

"Truth" is in the mix, she said, because of President Donald Trump, "because of all of Trump's lies, not just one or two lies, here and there, but lies that are in the thousands. It's so weird. You can actually look up like 10,000 lies we've heard from him. The truth has been bent every which way since he's been in office. I would like truth to have one meaning, which would be, the truth."

Cho doesn't do anything special as a way of preparing before each show, and admits she still stresses out about doing her best.

"I always worry ... You never know what will happen, and that's part of the excitement. I don't have any rituals to make it (feel) safer. Well, maybe bringing my dog. I have a little Chihuahua, Lucia. She (her rescue dog) goes everywhere with me."

As for the first time Cho met Seinfeld, she said it was at a comedy competition for college kids. She didn't go to that school and wasn't even a student, but figured she was young enough and looked the part, so she gave it her best shot.

"He was so encouraging and supportive, it was wonderful," she said. It meant a lot to receive positive feedback "from somebody who was at that time and still is, at the top of his game. I really love him and owe so much to him."

Of course comedy isn't the only entertainment realm in which Cho has achieved success. She's also an actor (films and television), author and singer-songwriter who has earned five Grammy Award nominations (two for music albums, "Cho Dependent" and "American Myth") and one Emmy nod for her work on "30 Rock."

Her next TV appearance will be Nov. 7, when she plays the manager of a massage parlor who is swept up in a sex-trafficking sting on "Law & Order: SVU." The episode is titled, "Counselor, It's Chinatown."

"I'm a bad character, a villain," she said. "It's not often that I play a villain, so I'm excited." Cho said it's a great TV series and she's known Mariska Hargitay, who stars as police Capt. Olivia Benson, for years.

We asked if there were any unusual things in the episode that we should look for, such as a misplaced prop, like the Starbucks cup in "Game of Thrones." But Cho said, "There's no mistakes. It's very hard to shoot a show in the middle of New York City, and something as iconic as 'Law & Order: SVU' is quite a task, so they're really on top of things."

She said, of course you could justify a Starbucks cup in there, but no, "they've got their routine down."

Cho is a top talent and role model, according to Rolling Stone. In 2017, the magazine named her one of the 50 Best Stand-Up Comics, calling her "the sort of funny, sex-positive feminist and LGBT activist younger comics continue to look up to."

Looking back on the early days of her career, and ahead toward the future, Cho said she's always been an optimist, but takes nothing for granted. Being bullied as a kid, a subject she has often discussed, continues to inspire her to speak out for people who feel like outsiders and are unable to speak for themselves. She encourages those who can speak, to use their voices to promote change.

Cho says we need to accept each other. "It seems like we had (evolved in a good direction) with President Obama. Things were going really well. Now ... it's a very strange time."