Comedy Spotlight: Interview with Margaret Cho
MICHAEL RAVERSEPTEMBER 18, 2017
The Superstar Comedian Brings Her Latest Tour to New York
She’s afraid of nothing and will say anything. A five-time Grammy & Emmy nominee, comedian/ actress Margaret Cho is among the select few of her generation to ascend to a truly legendary status. Rolling Stone ranked her one of the “50 Best Stand-Ups of All Time,” hailing her as “the sort of funny, sex-positive feminist and LGBT activist younger comics continue to look up to.” Confident in the face of extreme adversity, the San Francisco-native first came to national attention as the star of the groundbreaking sitcom, All American Girl. She has since been an public advocate for women’s rights, as well as an outspoken crusader for LGBT issues.
Her newest tour, Fresh Off The Bloat, addresses sex, addiction, the Asian American community and her trademark no-holds-barred perspective on politics. The new show, which comes to New York’s Gramercy Theatre for two performances on October 12th, promises to be her most explosive yet.
What inspired you to go on this tour?
You’ve said this is your ‘sickest’ tour to date. What did you mean by that?
It’s all about craziness. The craziness of Trump is so sick. What’s happening with our country and the sickness in my own life. Debauchery. And issues like Asian Americans in entertainment, the big fights I’ve had with people like Tilda Swinton and the Ab Fab ladies. There’s a lot of sickness that’s really fun to focus on.
Is there something unique about performing for a New York audience?
New York is the center of everything. It’s really where theater and live performance reach their apex. It’s the best of the best and the audiences reflect that. They’re very sophisticated. Performing there makes you want to be your very best.
What’s an absolute must-have in your dressing room?
Your Korean heritage informs much of your work. Do you ever wonder what your ancestors would think of what you’ve done?
We have a lot of ancestor worship in my family in particular. If you disrespect it, you’re sort of f*cked in the afterlife. It’s a superstitious culture. I’m terrified of my ancestors kicking my ass when I get there. I’m fine being critical with my own upbringing but there’s definitely hell to pay. In a literal way.
You’ve been outspoken about politics since day one. How do you feel about the administration at the moment?
It’s crazy. With the hurricanes and the fact that they’re showing George W. Bush hugging hurricane victims…I never thought I would see the day that I would miss George W. Bush or the days of Sarah Palin. We didn’t know what we were in for back then. Now everyday there’s something. It’s a nightmare. I blame NASCAR. I think it has to do a lot with NASCAR and Monster Energy Drinks. And Reality TV. They’ve all conspired in a really terrible way.
You’re about to step back into the realm of television with Highland, a dramedy for TNT. Does it make you nostalgic forAll American Girl?
It does. I love this process of working in TV. Now I’m also an executive making the decisions. It changes the game entirely. Before I was really afraid and did everything everybody said. I’m calling the shots now and I feel very comfortable being able to create.
Why do you think the prejudice exists that has made it so challenging for Asian American actors working in television?
It’s the backwards nature of Hollywood. For a long time, the Hollywood machine hadn’t really understood that the world had shifted. We need diversity and it is turning around in that regard. There is a lot more visibility and there are venues for different people now, which I really love. It’s getting better for sure.
You got into television when you were really young. If you could go back, what would you want your 24-year-old self to know about how things turned out?
That everything was okay. To trust her instincts and that they aren’t going to steer anyone wrong. Everything that happened was right and good.
Why is art especially necessary now?
I started doing comedy during the Reagan era and of course things are way worse now. But back then I got used to using art for activism. It was important then and it’s still really important now.
Margaret Cho will be at The Gramercy Theatre at 7:30 and 10:00 pm on October 12th.