|VISALIA TIMES DELTA|
'Wherever I go is the right place': Margaret Cho brings her edgy act to Visalia Fox
Joshua Yeager, Visalia Times-DeltaPublished 6:00 a.m. PT Oct. 5, 2018
On a very, uh, entertaining episode of 'Celebrity Wife Swap,' Margaret Cho took her temporary husband on a sexy outing. Newslook
Comedian, activist, author, singer-songwriter *deep breath* burlesque performer, fashion designer, actress, emcee...
To call Margaret Cho "multi-talented" would be underselling.
She brings her unique blend of ribald humor and trenchant social critique to the Visalia Fox Theatre on Saturday, Oct. 13.
The San Franciscan burst onto the national stage with the arrival of her ABC sitcom "All-American Girl" in 1994. Cho says it was the first Asian-American sitcom to air — more than 20 years before "Fresh Off the Boat" would become a ratings giant and cultural touchstone for the network.
After the network demanded Cho lose 20 pounds in a matter of weeks (executives told Cho she was "too fat" to play herself), she developed kidney problems that continue to plague her.
Cho drew on these horrific experiences, along with her Korean heritage and bisexuality, to develop a raucous on-stage persona that has gone on to sell-out many national tours.
Off the stage, Cho has made waves nationally as a strong proponent of Asian American representation in the media — blasting "Doctor Strange," "Ghost in the Shell," and other major Hollywood productions for whitewashing casts, with the likes of Scarlet Johansson and Tilda Swinton poaching parts from deserving Asian-American actresses, Cho says.
Her new stand-up show is called "Fresh Off the Bloat" and comes after a prolonged recovery following a public battle with substance abuse.
Choices spoke with Cho about the intersection of comedy and activism, what it's like performing in a politically conservative area, and the rise of #MeToo.
Choices: Could you describe your comedy for those who may be unfamiliar or new to your material?
Margaret Cho: I'm a raunchy club comedian in the spirit of my mentor Joan Rivers. My comedy is feminist and queer — harsh and hardcore. I go after Trump and Harvey Weinstein and other
Choices: "Fresh off the Bloat" is a clever pun on ABC's "Fresh Off the Boat." Can you talk about your own experience with network television and the story behind your new stand-up show?
M.C. In 1994 I starred in a show called "All-American girl" that was swiftly canceled. At the time, it was the first Asian American sitcom — it took 20 years to get another back on the air. I think the success of "Fresh Off the Boat" is a comment on how far we've come in the media as Asian Americans.
The 'bloat' refers to my appearance before I checked myself into recovery. Plus, I just love a good pun.
Choices: You've spent 20 years exploring issues that are just now breaking into the mainstream with #MeToo and #TimesUp on one hand and "Crazy Rich Asians" and "Fresh Off The Boat" on the other. What's it been like watching the world catch up to Margaret Cho?
M.C.: It's great and powerful and exciting to see. So much needs to change still. I'm so excited for my "Crazy Rich Asians" friends and all that they've accomplished. I've had people from younger generations come up and tell me: 'You made this possible for me,' which is such a tremendous honor.
Growing up, I never saw myself represented in the media — I had to create a space for myself; a space to get out there and do anything. That, to me, is really powerful, a really raw form of entertainment. I constantly dabble in burlesque, songwriting, and other art forms, but I always find myself coming back to stand-up for that reason.
Choices: According to your website, after the Fox show you're headed to Beverly Hills, Chicago, and New York City. Have you been to Visalia before?
M.C. I must've done a stand-up show or something in Visalia over a decade ago, but I can't remember now. I'm so excited to be there and that I get to drive to a show, which is a new experience for me.
Choices: I understand your new special is critical of the current administration. President Trump lost to Hillary Clinton in our district by 10 points. What is it like performing this kind of material in a Red area?
M.C. There's always a big portion of people who feel that they haven't been represented, or are like 'Oh, no, this is not what we thought was gonna happen,' especially in red states. It's more exciting to have someone come along that doesn't represent the status quo. Wherever I go is always the right place — comedy travels, no matter which side of the aisle you occupy.
Choices: Has using your body as a source of comedy been difficult or therapeutic?
M.C.: It's fun to play with that tension: To turn the struggle into a good time. Burlesque is a huge influence, and a lot of it is about finding joy in letting go of self-criticisms. Women's bodies are a battleground. That struggle can be really overwhelming, so to find a place of healing around that is revolutionary.
How to Attend
What: Margaret Cho's "Fresh Off the Bloat" tour
When: 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 13
Where: Visalia Fox Theatre