A pioneer in every sense of the word, Margaret Cho is a comedy icon.
Five-time Grammy and Emmy nominated comedian Margaret Cho (she/her) has broken down barriers and blazed trails for women in comedy. Famous for her razor-sharp wit and unwillingness to back down from difficult topics regarding addiction, abuse, and her Asian-ness, Cho continues to be one of the must-see comedians of our time.
A household name today, Cho originally found her comedic voice in the early 90s in a club adjacent to her parents’ bookstore before embarking on a career in stand-up comedy in the years proceeding.
The then–budding comic would eventually land herself the title role of ‘All American Girl’, and go on to establish herself as a bona fide comedian and cement herself as one of the comedy greats.
More recently, the comic has appeared in Hulu’s 2022’s LGBTQIA+ romcom ‘Fire Island’,and has been named in VOGUE Magazine’s ‘Nine Best Female Comedians Of All-Time’, and is about to embark on her own ‘Live & Livid’ tour.
After forty years in the industry, it’s safe to say that Cho still has it.
Cho discloses her secret to staying relevant for so long, revealing, “I really love doing my work. I think stand-up comedy is an interesting art form, and it’s always kind of renewing itself. It’s all about reinvention. So, I’m hopeful that like, ‘oh, it’s gonna keep on getting better. I’m gonna keep trying to work on it.’”
Purporting Phyllis Diller and Joan Rivers as key inspirations, she says, “they were so incredible and vital until the very end. They came into more success when they got older. For me, it’s very inspiring, and I hope to be able to do that same thing.”
Initially breaking new ground for Asian entertainers when she stared on ‘All American Girl’ in 1994 (ABC’s first prime time sitcom to feature an Asian-American family), Cho has seen Asian representation come a long way. She talks about how it feels to be called a ‘trailblazer’ by those following her footsteps, proclaiming, “I’m so proud. To me, that’s the greatest achievement that I can have. To have this legacy of people who looked at my work and felt empowered to go into comedy, acting, music – whether that’s Awkwafina, Bowen Yang or Joel Kim Booster – and who are like, oh, ‘I can do it, if she can do it.’ I think it’s great.”
Best identified by her comedic stylings, The Notorious C.H.O has also been known to dabble in a bit of burlesque, fashion design, and music. On the more obscure side of professions, she divulges that during the 80s and 90s she was a phone sex operator (…at the age of fifteen might I add), a Raggedy Ann Doll, and even worked at a lesbian BDSM collective that manufactured fetish gear.
Though has Cho ever considered giving up comedy for a different job?
“I love it all, but to me, it’s also through the lens of stand-up comedy. To me, that’s really my ultimate job, and then everything else is around that. If anything, I love acting and think it’s special. It’s a different kind of profession. It’s such an amazing art form. So, if anything, it’s that. But I always also like veer towards comedies and humour in general. So, I think that’s still comedy no matter what.”
Though comedy is where Cho’s heart remains loyal, she shares that it isn’t all shits and giggles. In fact, there are somethings about being a comedian she does loathe.
“It’s all the travel. It’s an absence of a home life, which I think there’s really great things about, but it’s also very difficult...I figured out there needs to be more of a balance.”
In the last few years, “there’s been more of an emphasis on creating that home life for myself because I couldn’t tour for a lot of the time after and during the pandemic. So now, I have a newfound appreciation for the dailiness of a travelling life, so I could appreciate it more and now I really look forward to it.”
Now taking on more acting roles, Cho reveals that she’s come to appreciate, “that you you’re fitting into an ensemble and you’re fitting into somebody’s vision. So, it’s your job to really create that for them and help them to realise it. And that’s special, to be able to be in this art that is a collective vision.”
Cho explains that she’d, “like to do a lot more. Hopefully, that is happening. I have a bunch of things that I’m starting up, and trying to figure out when and where I can do it. This this year. But yeah, that’s, I think, for me a big part of going forward. I would like to create more.”
Tickets to Margaret Cho’s ‘Live & Livid’ tour are on sale now.