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MARGARET CHO

Margaret Cho returns to Castro, ready for a comedic challenge

By Peter Hartlaub

October 18, 2017 

Margaret Cho is four months into her Fresh Off the Bloat tour, a period of time where the news cycle seems to be changing just about every five minutes.

But Cho will be prepared when she arrives Saturday, Oct. 21, at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco, a town where she honed her dark, edgy and often political comedy skills.

“I think it’s a challenge and is one of the great things about live comedy — you can get in there and talk about this stuff that’s happening right then,” Cho says. “I have a lot (in my show) about Harvey Weinstein. It’s just amazing that the most powerful women in the world had to suffer in silence.”

Cho is in Los Angeles now, after finishing the Netflix fairy-tale cop movie “Bright” (set for a Dec. 22 release), and working on the pilot for “Highland,” a dramatic comedy co-written and starring Cho, about two dysfunctional Korean families.

She spoke to The Chronicle by phone last week before her Northern California performances, which also include shows in Sacramento and Santa Cruz.

Q: You’re four months into your tour. Do you circle the Castro Theatre date?

A: I do. It’s a good excuse to come home. … I lived there until about three years ago. I lived in this weird, unzoned illegal building that was an artists’ commune. It was maybe 28 young people and myself. It was like a squatting situation.

I certainly do go back and do the S.F. thing often. It’s changed a lot; the city is very different. But I still love it.

Q: What does an unzoned illegal artist commune building room rent for?

A: It was about $1,000 a month. Isn’t that crazy? In the Haight. I was there for about two years.

Q: Do you have history at the Castro Theatre? Did you ever go there just as an audience member?

A: I always love when they would show, like, “All About Eve,” and other classics. … It seems like every time I’ve gone there it’s a big deal. I did comedy shows there the last time I was in San Francisco, and I also (hosted) the Gay Porn Awards there, which was so crazy. It was so San Francisco, that experience.

Q: Do you remember when you first thought you might become a comedian?

A: I always knew. I remember when there was a big TV show on Channel 9 (KQED), the PBS station, “Comedy Tonight,” hosted by Alex Bennett. You would see comics like Michael Pritchard and Bob Sarlatte and all these very San Francisco guys. And I became part of that clique. You would get up and do Alex Bennett’s show in the morning, and then go to bed for a while, and then get out and do shows at the Punch Line or wherever.

Q: That was a pretty white male-heavy group. Were they welcoming?

A: Yes, very welcoming, because I was so different. And I was so young. They took care of me. I got to go to the Holy City Zoo on Clement Street. I lived across the street in my first little apartment. I had the best time growing up then. It was exciting.

Q: You’re also in “Bright” coming up on Netflix. I can’t tell if it’s going to be the worst thing or the best thing I’ve seen. It looks like someone mixed “Colors” with “Lord of the Rings.”

A: That’s exactly it. There’s a little bit of “Blade Runner” in there, too.

I’m excited. It was weird because it was this entire world populated by orcs. I never saw Joel Edgerson out of makeup, so in my mind he’s some kind of orc. … I’ve done action movies, but I’ve never done a huge sci-fi project like that, that is so rooted in a very real kind of place.

Q: That was a pretty white male-heavy group. Were they welcoming?

A: Yes, very welcoming, because I was so different. And I was so young. They took care of me. I got to go to the Holy City Zoo on Clement Street. I lived across the street in my first little apartment. I had the best time growing up then. It was exciting.

Q: You’re also in “Bright” coming up on Netflix. I can’t tell if it’s going to be the worst thing or the best thing I’ve seen. It looks like someone mixed “Colors” with “Lord of the Rings.”

A: That’s exactly it. There’s a little bit of “Blade Runner” in there, too.

I’m excited. It was weird because it was this entire world populated by orcs. I never saw Joel Edgerson out of makeup, so in my mind he’s some kind of orc. … I’ve done action movies, but I’ve never done a huge sci-fi project like that, that is so rooted in a very real kind of place.