Margaret Cho Returns

Comedienne returns to Calgary after 6 years

Celebrity Interview by Jason Clevett (From GayCalgary® Magazine, October 2016, page 42)
Margaret Cho
Margaret Cho
Image by: Dusti Cunningham
Margaret Cho
Margaret Cho
Image by: Dusti Cunningham
Margaret Cho
Margaret Cho
Image by: Dusti Cunningham
Microsoft Canada

6 years can go by in the blink of an eye, but also be forever. The last 6 years of Margaret Cho’s life has been filled with highs – such as an Emmy nominated guest appearance on 30 Rock as Kim Jong-II – and lows like the death of her friends and inspirations Joan Rivers and Robin Williams. A busy career has unfortunately kept her from performing in Calgary since 2010. That changes November 19th when she performs at the Jack Singer Concert Hall.

"That is the way touring works sometimes, it Is just the way my work schedule has gone. I’ve been working in Atlanta since spring and all over Europe, Australia and Asia. I love Calgary though and am very excited to come back. I bought a gorgeous jacket last time I was there; it is very thrilling to have another opportunity. Calgary isn’t a place you think of as a fashion capital but it really is."

A lot has happened in the last 6 years both in Cho’s career and the world at large.

"I think that for me, the way that my career has expanded and grown I am really grateful. I have put out a couple of albums of music and do different kinds of roles in acting, done a special which I haven’t done in a while. There is a lot of different things I have been doing," she said, adding that world events like the current election and Donald Trump have also been an influence. "It is so awful that there is a possibility he could be president! He is so dumb, he can’t even blend down his under-eye concealer into the rest of his makeup. He needs a new makeup artist among other things."

Cho has always been open and honest about her own history as a rape survivor. One thing we hope for is change, yet the infamous "grab her" Trump video, women coming out that he assaulted them and the often accusatory response are just some of the many signs that we have a long way to go to not blaming the victim.

"It is really an outrage. People need to understand that we need to talk about rape and sexual assault. When you bring light to these issues it discards the ability for predators to act. If we talk about it, we can make rape obsolete which I think is very important. Victims need support. Lucy DeCoutere and all the women who came forward in the Jian Ghomeshi case, it didn’t go their way and there was a lot of victim blaming in Canada. It is very difficult; people are not going to come forward unless it happened. That is my assumption and also my experience as a survivor. We did not talk about this without it having happened knowing that we will get criticism about it. I believe this to be true."

Her own experience lead to the controversial song on her new album, titled I Wanna Kill My Rapist.

"It’s not about literal violence, it is about murdering the memory inside and making it known so that you can receive compassion and open up to this."

The song is featured on the album American Myth, which was released earlier this year. The album is less a ‘comedy’ album but deals with some serious topics. One song in particular – Daddy I Miss You – will instantly resonate with someone who has lost their dad.

"It’s a very important record. It is very emotional whether saying goodbye to Anna Nicole Smith or my Dad. I even did a song about prostitution called Come With Mewhich is all about the secret relationship that is historic with mankind since the beginning. There is a lot of emotion behind it. My music is an area that is developing. I love collaborating with different people but this was my first attempt at being a composer which is a huge jump. It’s an aside to what I do as a comedian although some songs can be comedic. It is really a wonderful thing for me to be able to do. The writing process is definitely different from comedy. You have to write in time and measure and melody which is all part of the experience. It is a different kind of structure writing songs from writing comedy that I am getting used to, and I love it."

Cho is one of the innovators of females in Comedy in the last 20 years, and we continue to see success of women in the industry. Amy Schumer is doing arena tours, the Ghostbusters reboot was all female, and many other examples show that women are a force. With that comes attacks (one just looks at some peoples’ outrage over Ghostbusters as an example) that shows there is still a long way to go.

"I love Amy Schumer, I love the women from Broad City, Wanda Sykes... I love the diversity of women in comedy. The backlash is just misogyny."

By the time Cho arrives in Calgary, America will have elected its new President. It seems pretty likely that the countries first female Commander-In-Chief will finally become a reality.

"She is a really honorable competent politician and someone who is more qualified to be president then anybody. There is an alarming misogyny that exists even in my own party the Democrats with the Bernie Bros and all of this stuff. People are not willing to allow for a woman to be a president. I think we’ll find we will discover an entirely new side of Hillary Clinton, one that I have known for many years. In the 90’s I was a frequent visitor to the White House during the Clinton Administration. I am very proud that she’s got this and we’re going to have tits in the white house! And not Melania’s tits!"

Long credited for her honest comedy about sex, the gay community and being a woman of colour, her current show deals with some dark subjects that will provoke laughter and thought.

"We will talk a lot about depression which I think it is an important topic to discuss in comedy, it is a different thing that I am having a great deal of fun in talking about. I talk about emotional abuse and a lot of heavy things coming through in the show. The Presidential election. Misogyny and how we perceive it in everything from the Jian Ghomeshi case to Trump to Cosby. These are big topics for me so I will be dealing a lot with that."

For nearly 25 years Margaret Cho has been a voice, an activist, and entertainer. She has done so much for the LGBTQ community, abuse survivors, addicts, people of colour and many others who see a portion of themselves in her. At this point she is an icon with an incredible body of work and legacy, and has made a true impact. She’s a beautiful, special person – and her humbleness only adds to that.

"I do my work every day and really love it and have a good time. I am wildly excited about everything I get to do. It is humbling to think of it that way, but I don’t think about my impact much."