Margaret Cho talks stand-up comedy, getting busted by Ice-T before Brea Improv shows

The comedian, actress and singer will headline four shows at Brea Improv in Brea Friday, Jan. 10 and Saturday, Jan. 11.

By  | kfadroski@scng.com | Orange County Register
PUBLISHED: January 3, 2020 at 7:50 a.m. | UPDATED: January 3, 2020 at 9:48 a.m.

Margaret Cho reached a lot of milestones in 2019, and it’s only going to get crazier in 2020.

The 51-year-old Emmy- and Grammy-nominated comedian, actress and singer-songwriter will kick off the New Year with four headlining shows at the Brea Improv in Brea where she’ll be debuting fresh material.

In between comedy tour stops last year, Cho appeared on several television shows and started her own podcast, “The Margaret Cho.”

She also fulfilled one of her many goals, which was to appear on the TV singing competition, “The Masked Singer.” Disguised as a giant poodle, she was unfortunately eliminated by the fourth episode even after delivering stunning performances of Pat Benatar’s “Heartbreaker” and Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time.”

“It was so fun and it’s so weird and such a very South Korean thing, too,” Cho said during a recent phone interview. “It’s just costumes and songs and I loved the whole thing. You really do have to work on your voice though because it’s all they know and all they get to hear, of course, so it is actually hard work.”

Last November, Cho appeared on one of her all-time favorite crime dramas, the long-running “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” which currently stars Mariska Hargitay and rapper-turned-actor Ice-T. As her episode was airing, Cho tweeted that it had always been a dream to be “playing a Korean sex trafficker on your mom’s favorite TV show.”

“The experience is exactly like I thought it was going to be,” she said. “That whole universe is kind of magical. It was really fulfilling to do and one of the few instances in my life where I’ve been able to get into a landscape of a show that I love, whether it’s ‘Law & Order’ or ’30 Rock’ …That is always exciting.”

Cho got to play the bad guy, so, of course, she was eventually taken down by the “SVU” team and in the show handcuffed and taken away by Ice-T.

“They didn’t do real handcuffs,” she said with a tinge of regret. “They just had him put my hands behind my back and I’m like, ‘I want you to handcuff me,’ but I just pretended. I really do love him. I love how they film that show just out in New York in the crowds of people with all the noise. They just get out there and do it, which is great to see.”

As far as comedy goes, she’s working on a bunch of new material and the fast-paced, ever-changing world has given her so much fodder.

Lately, the outspoken LGBTQ advocate has been racking her brain trying to figure out why the Hallmark Channel would pull a commercial that featured two women getting married, only to put the commercial back into rotation less than a week later. She said she’s also creeped out by rapper T.I.’s recent massive overshare about going to gynecology appointments with his daughter.

“There’s just so much going on,” she said, almost sounding overwhelmed or exhausted by it all. “There’s always so much to talk about in the world all of the time and that’s not even beginning with Trump. There’s a lot more going on and we live in an interesting world where now everyone knows everything at the same time, which has never happened before in the history of comedy. We’re also living in this daily occurrence of people getting really mad about stuff, and I think I have a bit of outrage fatigue. You need outrage to draw your eye to something, and it seems like unless there’s outrage it’s kind of unworthy of being talked about.”

As she’s working on new stand-up material, she said she has also been picking up her guitar again to work on some new music. Though a lot of her focus lately has gone into her podcast, which so far has included guests like comedians Kathy Griffin, Kevin Nealon and Jo Koy, singer, actor and drag queen Trixie Mattel and director Quentin Tarantino.

“It’s really fun and also a good excuse to see my friends,” she said. “There are a bunch of guests and other stuff that are coming up that I’m actually really, really excited about.”

She’s an avid podcast listener, too, as she regularly tunes into podcasts such as “My Favorite Murder,” “The Last Podcast on the Left,” “RedHanded,” and “Casefile.”

“The most 2019 thing you can do is Marie Kondo your house while listening to true crime podcasts,” she said. “I listen to all of them though. I do love the comedy ones in particular because I kind of need a little softness sometimes. There’s just so many podcasts that have different appeal and different styles … I guess it’s the intimacy and dailiness of it that I can just listen to it while still being productive.”

Margaret Cho

When: 7:30 & 9:45 p.m. Friday, Jan. 10 and 7 & 9:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 11

Where: Brea Improv, 180 South Brea Blvd., Brea

Tickets: $25-$75 for those 18-and-older at 714-482-0700 or breaimprov.com