Margaret Cho back in S'pore to find comedy in racism and sexuality

Apr 23, 2018 06:00 am

For years, comedienne Margaret Cho has been talking openly and unapologetically about taboo topics, such as her personal experience with sexual assault.

Today, the global conversation has finally caught up with the 49-year-old Korean-American's controversial remarks.

Even though she has never shied away from difficult or sensitive topics, the new social climate - in which the exposes on Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein and other powerful men have led to the emergence of the #MeToo and Time's Up movements to end sexual harassment - has made her material more relevant and compelling than ever.

Cho told The New Paper over the phone from Los Angeles recently: "The world has changed a lot for the better. It is now easier for me to talk about these issues."


She will be here next month for her new show, Fresh Off The Bloat.

During her last outing here for the PsyCHO Tour in 2016, her line-up of punchlines included the City Harvest Church scandal.

This time, she will also tailor her material to the local audience, as well as speak up on issues that are important to her, such as feminism, sexuality and racism.

After all, the title of her tour is a pun on the derogatory slang "fresh off the boat", which typically refers to foreign immigrants still unfamiliar with the customs and language of their new environment.

She is unperturbed about Singapore's censorship guidelines and even reassured her friend and fellow US comedienne Kathy Griffin, before the latter's stand-up show here last November.

Cho said: "You just have to be truthful and honest. Comedy is just about a good joke. And you can always get away with a lot as a comedian."

For someone who is outspoken on the whitewashing of Asians in Hollywood - she famously slammed the casting of English actress Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One, originally written as a Tibetan man, in the 2016 movie Doctor Strange - it is not surprising that Cho is excited about the upcoming romantic comedy Crazy Rich Asians.

Adapted from the 2013 satirical novel by Singaporean author Kevin Kwan with the same name, the film features a predominantly Asian cast and reflects a "crazy rich" Singapore lifestyle.

She said: "I wish I could have been in it, the book's such a fantasy. It'd be great."

While Cho thinks that Crazy Rich Asians is a step in the right direction, more still needs to be done.

She said: "Whitewashing is something that I have a lot to say about. While Asians are better represented now, we are still not there yet."

In the meantime, Cho is looking forward to visiting Singapore again.

"I can't wait to eat chicken rice and chilli crab. The food there is a form of art.

"Chicken rice is my favourite thing. The last time I went there, I just had to take it back with me. I even tried to replicate it back home because I love it so much," she said.


WHAT: Fresh Off The Bloat - Live in Singapore

WHERE: Kallang Theatre

WHEN: May 15, 8pm

TICKETS: $98 to $148 from Sistic (6348-5555 or