posted Friday, August 5, 2016

Margaret Cho talks politics, her early days of comedy and upcoming sold out concerts

by Albert Rodriguez - SGN A&E Writer

August 19 & 20 (SOLD OUT)

Funny doesn't begin to describe Margaret Cho. It doesn't even scrape the surface. She is a comedy icon. She is hilarious and clever and bold and inspiring. She's also headed this way again very soon. The three-time Emmy and Grammy nominee will perform two nights at Skagit Valley Casino Resort this month, partly to promote her new studio recording titled American Myth, but like any show she ever does expect the unexpected. When she isn't performing or writing fresh material - for the stage, album, TV project, webisode, radio program - she's actively involved in discussions and campaigns that deal with racism, bullying, homeless people and LGBT rights. She's a fearless advocate for those who don't have a voice. Cho will entertain audiences on August 19 and 20 at the casino, located near Mount Vernon just off Interstate 5 at Exit 236; both performances are sold out. But we got a hold of her before she even stepped out the door.

Reached at her Los Angeles home by phone, this is what Margaret Cho had to say to Seattle Gay News. For casino information, visit Albert

Rodriguez: What can we expect from your upcoming shows? I know you have a new album out, so are you going to play songs from your album, or do standup, or a little bit of both? Margaret

Cho: I'm not sure yet, but I think it'll mostly be standup. That's what I generally do, as a live performer. I do make music in the studio, but I really want to do standup comedy. I'm taking a little break for the summer, so I'll be glad to be back at it in September, so yours is the first shows that I'll do and I'll also do Australia from there.

Rodriguez: Both shows at Skagit Valley Casino Resort are sold out. Do you get more excited when performing for sold out audiences, or is it the opposite, where you feel like you have to go out there and kill it because it's a packed house?

Cho: Well, I always try to do my best no matter where or when I'm performing, whether it's a small house or big house. I always put in the maximum effort that I can with every performance that I do.

Rodriguez: Do you remember where and when your first standup appearance was?

Cho: It was the Other Cafe in San Francisco and I used to be a comic duo. I was really young, I was like 14 and I was in a comic duo with Sam Rockwell, who is now a very famous actor. He and I were a comedy team; we didn't have a name, or anything, we just did shows and then his mom moved to New York and he left San Francisco. He became a famous actor, but I stayed with comedy; that was something I was really passionate about and something I'm still passionate about.

Rodriguez: At what point did you realize you were funny, that this was something you could expand upon and form into a career?

Cho: I was a really shy kid and doing comedy enabled me to have a sense of control socially. It was hard for me to have connections with people, but as a comic I could rise above all of that social anxiety and fear, and truly express myself.

Rodriguez: You're a comedian, but I know that in your shows you talk about some serious subjects. So, where were you and what was your reaction to the Orlando tragedy?

Cho: It was really upsetting. I was in LA and I turned on the news and saw what had happened. It was really hard because I've always looked at a gay bar, and gay clubs in general, as a very safe place. It's the one place you can feel at home and relaxed because everybody's the same, and while you're there you're seeking sanctuary and that's why the violation of that was so terrible because it wasn't just any club, it was a gay club, it was Latin Night, it was young people, really young kids who were starting their lives. It's just so horrifying that they had to die in such a horrible way. It's something that will take a long time to recover from, it was on the eve of LA Pride and so there was a lot of pain and tension and feeling like we didn't want to participate. I felt like I couldn't celebrate because I was really upset.

Rodriguez: With what's transpired in recent months around the world, in Orlando, France, Germany and Belgium, do you approach sensitive subject material differently in your shows, knowing that people have a genuine fear?

Cho: Yeah, I have a big serious problem with people who want to hang onto the Second Amendment and hang onto their gun rights. I don't think that it's positive and we just don't have any real sensibility around that issue, and I don't know why. It's really terrible. So, I do approach it with sensitivity because I know that people are very upset with what's going on. I just want to have people live, you know. I just want people to live.

Rodriguez: Do you have any predictions for this election season and what might happen in November?

Cho: Oh, Hillary has to win. There's just no way that anything else can happen. There just has to be a surreal change in the way we're thinking towards the election in knowing that we have to have Hillary as president. There's just no other alternative.

Rodriguez: What is your feeling about gay Republicans and gay Independents who are not voting for Hillary?

Cho: It's their choice. We can't have Donald Trump as President, it's too scary to think about. It just can't happen. Everyone has their choice about what they want to do politically, but I just think Trump is the worst possible scenario. I'm not sure exactly what's going on, but I really hope we consider and think about what the truth might be if Hillary is not elected.

Rodriguez: You're looking so good and you always seem to have a positive attitude. Do you meditate, eat well, apply any spiritual practices into your daily agenda? What's your recipe for living good?

Cho: Well, I don't drink alcohol. I am kind of clean living and that to me is really important for my health and my state of mind. That's just what I'm doing for now. It's really important to me to just feel good in my body. I don't put anything in me that's harsh. I try to have a good diet, but it's mostly not drinking.

Rodriguez: Will you be extending this tour? I know you're taking it to Australia, but any plans for it afterwards?

Cho: I'll be going to Toronto and maybe a couple of other places. The tour has been all over, so I'm excited to take it to Australia. I've taken it to Europe, to Asia, all over the US, and so there will be a few remaining dates that I think will be announced later.

Rodriguez: Are you constantly refreshing the show with current events and things in the news?

Cho: Always. It's a constant process; it's like always brewing, it's always really current and that's a really important part of what I do, it's a work in progress. I like to change it up every day to whatever is happening.

Rodriguez: Will you be spending any time in the city when you head this way?

Cho: I don't think so. I think I'll just be doing the shows. I don't know how much time I have, so I'll have to figure that out when I get there.