Comedian Margaret Cho: 'I Invented The Cancellation'

December 20, 20194:29 PM ET

Comedian Margaret Cho has spent decades as a trailblazer on race and sexuality, carving out a loud, unapologetic brand on stage and screen. One of her bits is about Asian American women dating white men.

"I think as an Asian American woman, we're really fetishized by white culture and white men in particular," she said. "And so there's this thing that we sort of gain power through having relationships with white men. And that kind of thing is like ... our own value pales in comparison to the value of whiteness. So that's really what the joke is trying to say and trying to talk about.

"[The joke] crawls inside the stereotype. It is like a fortune cookie."

Cho grew up in San Francisco idolizing comics like Joan Rivers and Robin Williams. Her parents owned a gay bookstore. The groundwork was laid for an outspoken icon. But before everyone knew her name, Cho had a little trouble finding her voice as a young Asian female starting out in comedy.

"I was playing some restaurant and they didn't have a photo of me, 'cause I had not had headshots taken," she said. "So they had a drawn a Chinese caricature — it had, like, big buck teeth, eating a bowl of rice ... they thought that this was going to help sell tickets to the performance."