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MARGARET CHO

Margaret Cho: ‘When Comedy Isn’t Funny’

By Keith Valcourt — Special to The Washington Times - - Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Controversial. Outspoken. Outrageous. Comic Margret Cho has never been afraid to do whatever she wants — even if it pisses off an audience. And that’s a good thing: Case in point, her recent TMZ-worthy battle with an unruly audience in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

Instead of soothing a crowd with mindless jokes about airplane food and coupons, Miss Cho has always challenged the conventions of traditional stand-up, often spewing thought-provoking ideas and concepts on hot topic and taboo subjects. This is what makes her an important voice in comedy, even if she doesn’t make everyone laugh.

 

Miss Cho spoke about her recent “meltdown” during that New Jersey show, the problems with “political correctness” and her new CD, “American Myth.”

Question: Where are you calling from?

Answer: I’m in Hollywood, Florida, at the Seminole Hard Rock.

Q: Is that the same hotel where Anna Nicole Smith, the subject of your new song, “Anna Nicole,” died?

A: Yes. It’s trippy. We just finished the video for that song about her. It’s beautiful in a way to be here. Last night it was this spiritual thing where I played the video for her. [laughs] It’s all kind of meant to be.

Q: What is the song about?

A: The song is about the time that we made out. I had gone to a party at her house. I think it was filmed for her show. So there’s probably a clip on YouTube.

The party was me and Kathy Griffin and the wrestler Chyna. And Anna. We all got very drunk on Jagermeister, and Anna and I made out. The song is all sort of about that experience and what it was like to kiss Anna Nicole Smith.

Q: What really happened at the New Jersey show?

A: I do comedy that is sometimes pretty confrontational. There are subjects that people are sort freaked out by. But that’s the whole point of what I do. It is to challenge.

At that show this woman got really mad, and she stood up and said, “You can’t talk about rape on Easter!” What I want to do is I want to go back to that club and invite the original patrons and sit down with them. Buy them dinner and drinks and talk to them about why they got upset. Do a re-enactment. Go back to the scene of the crime and figure out what went wrong.

Q: Are there topics you shouldn’t do in comedy?

A: No. I think it’s important now to do comedy about rape and sexual assault because comedians are like in the center of this. Look at this whole Bill Cosby thing. We have to talk about it.

Q: Does it bother you that audiences think they can dictate what they see on stage?

A: They deserve to have fun. But at the same time, art is art. There is a reason art exists and a reason art is confrontational. It’s weird.

My heroes confronted the audience all the time. People that I opened for, like Bill Hicks and Richard Pryor. They challenged people. Joan Rivers was the most challenging.

As a comic I always try to live up to their standards.

Q: Does all comedy have to be funny?

A: Some jokes are not to make you laugh. Some jokes are to wake you up. That’s the point of a lot of what we do, or what we try to do. There are different kinds of comedy and different ways to work. I have a lot of respect for the profession. But I also have a lot of respect for comedy clubs. I have to find a way to be sensitive to their needs but also do what I’m supposed to do.

Q: Is “political correctness” ruining stand-up?

Q: Does it bother you that audiences think they can dictate what they see on stage?

A: They deserve to have fun. But at the same time, art is art. There is a reason art exists and a reason art is confrontational. It’s weird.

My heroes confronted the audience all the time. People that I opened for, like Bill Hicks and Richard Pryor. They challenged people. Joan Rivers was the most challenging.

As a comic I always try to live up to their standards.

Q: Does all comedy have to be funny?

A: Some jokes are not to make you laugh. Some jokes are to wake you up. That’s the point of a lot of what we do, or what we try to do. There are different kinds of comedy and different ways to work. I have a lot of respect for the profession. But I also have a lot of respect for comedy clubs. I have to find a way to be sensitive to their needs but also do what I’m supposed to do.

Q: Is “political correctness” ruining stand-up?

Q: Do all the songs have to be funny?

A: Anthemic is important. You want to have all rock anthems when you are writing an album. There are a couple songs that have an element of humor to them. But then there are other themes like love and intense emotions as well.

Q: Are you still doing “Fashion Police”?

A: Yes! I’m on for the next year. I love that show. I’m not a “fashionista” but I really love getting to tell jokes on there. I love being there for Melissa [Rivers]. My idol Joan [Rivers] was so proud of that show. I want to carry that legacy on for her.

My favorite thing to do is to make Melissa laugh. The more raunchy and disgusting that I am, the more she remembers how much we loved her mom.

Margaret Cho’s new CD, “American Myth,” is out April 29.