“Whatever it is, everybody has that divine purpose, and to find it is really the most important thing to do.” Margaret Cho told us.
For her, that seems to be making people laugh about polarizing content, while challenging us to think about social justice and politically relevant issues. Finding the balance between both is what has made Margaret so relatable and propelled her career from comedy, to stage, to TV, film and even music. Rolling Stone Magazine named her one of the 50 Best Stand Up Comedians of All Time. Not just our time, all time. Something she has most definitely earned the honor of being called.
This week Cho kicks off her fall tour in Chicago entitled “Fresh Off the Bloat” which will take her across the U.S. and overseas to Europe before 2017 concludes. We caught up with this comedic genius for what we thought might be a light hearted and perhaps humorous conversation discussing her new material, where she gets her energy and what advise she might give if she was a life coach. Instead Margaret was sincere, engaging, honest, open and even vulnerable. Find out what drives her fashion fetishes and what else she reveals.
Be sure to catch her in a city near your this fall! You can find complete tour dates listed on her website.
Marian: You have unfailingly found ways to make comedy with bold, edgy and polarizing material. Topics that cause most people to argue or fight, you have all sides laughing about. Allow me just start by asking the seemingly obvious, how?
Margaret Cho: “I don’t know. I actually don’t know. I guess it’s just like anything else. Like when I’m nervous, that part of me is always going to make a joke. That side of me is always reflective of a coping mechanism that just happens. Something that’s very, I think, intuitive. So, I guess it’s never that conscious. You say enough of those things, you can get away with those things, then you can kind of put it together and put it in a show. It makes it seem really bold and I guess outrageous. I guess I am, I don’t know. I haven’t thought about it that way.”
M: When writing material have you ever considered the unifying element comedy and laughter has on people who are divided otherwise by the topics you navigate? Or do you simply just write?
MC: “I just write my experience. I don’t really think about what impact it has. That sort of comes later when you stop and sit down and say, okay well this really means all this. But it’s not that well planned. I’ve been doing this so long, it’s just part of my nature to kind of steer towards trying to make something very unique, in that you want to ride the edge of good taste, of fashion, of opinion and try to make things special.”
M: As a seasoned comedian and actress, do you get nervous anymore to present on a topic or to an audience?
MC: “I don’t know, uh, I don’t know. I think there’s a lot to play with. I think that it’s weird too, because right now everything is so crazy with Trump, that people are just saying incredible things. Some that I really don’t agree with and some that I really think are great. It’s really weird. There was a time, not long ago when we were really bleaching our language and making sure that nothing was offensive and nothing was somehow a problem. And now, we’ve sort of taken the microscope off of words. And there’s much bigger things to deal with. So it’s interesting. I think that whatever political correctness does, it has accomplished a lot because there is a lot of prejudice in race and homophobia, things just inherent in our language that need to be dealt with. But, at the same time, we now have this insane person as a president. So, I don’t exactly know what happened. It’s a weird place to be, because now, it’s just sort of a new frontier and I don’t know exactly what is going to happen.”
M: I liken it to watching a train wreck in slow motion. It’s like when is it going to stop?
M: “I really don’t think that this is sustainable in regards to Trump. The outrage generator is hyped up higher every day. I don’t know how much higher it can go. It’s very strange.”
M: Of all the things you’ve done, the places you’ve been, the shows you’ve been featured on, ect. Considering it all to date, what is for you one of your favorite memories or most hysterical moments?
MC: “I think that it’s being able to work and do crazy stuff. Whether it’s little things, like I’ve played a lot of men. Which I think is really funny! There’s Kim Jong-Il and Kim Jong-Un. Then I played a man in this movie which is called “Tooken” which is super silly. And I just played a man yesterday. So, I love being able to pull off really crazy costuming that’s not who I am. To me that’s really funny! Like that ability to step past the line of absurd and walk that tightrope of absurdity that could actually be believable. It’s interesting and over the top, but is believable. That to me is really fun!
M: In comedy, you often give and put out so much effort to deliver material. What recharges you when off stage, and likewise inspires you?
MC: “I think that whether that’s fashion – I’m really into festival fashion. To me that’s really crazy! A long time ago I used to make belly dance clothes and they were all like this weird thing. It didn’t really fit for dance or that person. Now I’m like, I think it was festival fashion! To me, I like dipping into fashion and I do good with that and like fashion police. I going to Bumbershoot this weekend, a big festival in Seattle, so I’ll get to see a lot of good festival fashion there.”
M: What are you most excited about for the new “Fresh Off the Bloat” tour starting this week?
MC: “I think just getting out there, getting out there and doing shows. I love performing and it’s something that is always energizing for me traveling. It’s also a big part of my social life that movement around. I was just in Fire Island and Province Town, so working was really great, but also that’s where a lot of my friends are. I love to get to see them and work and tour. I have friends all over the world now, and that’s really amazing!”
M: Take this question anywhere you want, but if you were a life coach, what advice would you give?
MC: “I think just to pursue what you really love and what you really want to do with your life. That to me is the ultimate expression of living, to devote yourself to what your real passion is. And if you don’t know, you’ve got to find it. That’s true of everyone. Everybody has something that they really want to do, but their just sort of afraid of doing it, or other people don’t want them to do it. Whatever it is, everybody has that divine purpose and to find it is really the most important thing to do.”