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MARGARET CHO

Comedian Margaret Cho tackles tough subjects at Fine Arts Center

By: Jen Mulson 
 February 19, 2016 Updated: February 19, 2016 at 4:15 am

Margaret Cho doesn't believe in forgiveness.

The comedian endured years of sexual abuse at the hands of a family friend when she was young and multiple rapes throughout her teen years.

"I don't want to take the high road or turn the other cheek," Cho says. "I think it's fine to not be the better person."

One way to find catharsis? Create art.

The music video for "I Want to Kill My Rapist," a single from Cho's "American Myth" album due out in April, helped her deal with the trauma and let other survivors know they're not alone.

"It's about rape and surviving and expressing the rage that comes along with sexual abuse that's not often given voice to," she says. "It's not about committing violence but about neutering the memory so you don't have to live with it anymore."

Cho will perform "Margaret Cho: PsyCHO" at the Fine Arts Center on Thursday.

The 47-year-old has racked up numerous Grammy and Emmy nominations for her comedy albums and TV performances, including her last album, "Cho Dependent," in 2010. And she's not hurting for side gigs, either. She was recently named the co-host of E!'s "Fashion Police" and just signed a deal with Amazon to star in "Highland," a marijuana-themed family dramedy.

"She's also a master of truly, epically quotable sentiments like 'I think that white people like to tell Asian people how to feel about race because they're too scared to tell black people.' That's the kind of perfectly constructed joke-of-truth you expect at a show like this," writes Chicago Tribune critic Zach Freeman about Cho's October performance.

Some might be surprised by Cho's musicality, but it's second nature to her - both her parents are musicians. She started making music about a decade ago and found it was a different avenue to express some tough emotions.

"It's a way to get more serious with music than comedy," she says. "The audience needs you to be brave and strong and in control, whereas with music there can be more vulnerability, more anger and sadness and tragedy in a different way. There's more of a poetry to it so it's less hard hitting but still very strong."

JENNIFER MULSON, THE GAZETTE, 636-0270, JEN.MULSON@GAZETTE.COM