Perhaps I may be a bit biased, but Margaret Cho is the queen of everything.
Okay, let me regain some journalistic props and re-state that. Margaret Cho has been a driving force in my life, and one that has kept me going since middle school when I was an insecure, closeted homosexual boy. Cho was the first public figure I had come across that had validated my existence and made me hurt from laughter at the same time. She drove my confidence up enough to be myself publicly and apologetically in high school. Needless to say, when the chance to interview Cho came along, I snatched it up so quickly heads spun, and my nervous anxiety about the forthcoming interview spiked as I tried to come up with what I would say.
Let’s just say it was all for naught as Cho was the sweetest, and most easygoing interviewee ever. Coming off her skit as a North Korean journalist during this year’s broadcast of The Golden Globes and a hosting job on TLC’s new show “All About Sex,” and with her upcoming show in Charlotte on April 9, 10 and 11, Cho had much to talk about.
How is your upcoming show in Charlotte different from your past shows that you’ve done?
It’s all new material and there are tangents to other areas, we talk a lot about the death of my mentors, Joan Williams, and at this point they become one person, that being Robin Williams and Joan Rivers. But it has a lot of the parental thing and family element I like, but in a lot of ways it’s like drag, you adopt children and you get adopted. Comedians do feel a sense of aloneness in the world, just like a lot of LGBT kids do, so you find your community and you create family with your community. The closest thing I have besides my comic family is my drag family and my burlesque family.
What can new fans expect who have maybe seen you on The Golden Globes or TLC’s “All About Sex” expect from the show?
Well, it’s a lot of jokes, it’s pretty raunchy and it’s pretty tight. There’s a lot of stuff that flies by, which is great to be able to talk about the moment and talk about everything that’s happening in the world, and it’s just the way we process information now too, comedy is a lot faster now. It’s great to get into the social aspect of how I want to be the new host of “Fashion Police” since I actually do smell like pot and patchouli, stuff like that, being of and in the moment, that’s what I want to be a part of.
Can you talk about how your skit at The Golden Globes came about? Because that’s something people are still discussing today.
Tina Fey is my old friend and she just told me a few weeks before to keep that day free, that she wanted to do something at The Golden Globes. I came in the day before and I was talking to Tina and Amy Poehler, Seth Myers and Eric Gurian and we were writing out what we were going to do and I wrote out the joke of the character and on Sunday we got the uniform together in the dressing room with Amy, Tina, Eric and Seth and you’re sectioned off from the celebrities. When you look out into the audience at The Golden Globes you see every single person in the audience and these people aren’t famous, they’re ultra famous. You have Meryl Streep, Benedict Cumberbatch and Colin Firth, and I’ve noticed the British actors crowd near the front. But it was so fun to do, and there was a lot of controversy; I don’t know why. I’m Korean, and my family has been affected by the split of the Koreas for 65 years, and the only weapon I have against it is comedy, so I think it was a very good thing to do.
How has the entertainment industry changed since your 1994 television sitcom “All American Girl?”
It’s a whole new entity and a whole new way we process information and distribute entertainment. In the age of the internet, there are so much more options for people. I was doing show business back when there were four channels, and that was all you had, but now we have so many channels, with so many shows and so much material that we need to create for different entities that are out there. I work a lot more now, which probably would’ve happened anyway since I’m a lot older, and comics tend to work more when they’re older, so we’re here.
Being quite the LGBT icon yourself, who are your personal LGBT icons?
Dan Savage, in a major way. I think he’s an incredible force in my life. I definitely look up to Armistead Maupin, who wrote all of the “Tales of the City” books and was someone I knew as a child with Robin Williams, one of his best friends. As far as women go, Rosie O’Donnell has always been a great champion of mine and a big hero. And Taylor Negron, who also just passed away, was a huge force in my life. It’s hard to live without some of these people around you, it’s really shocking to see them gone.
How has your humor about the LGBT community changed since these wonderful advancements towards equality?
I’ve never really changed my message or position, it’s how the world has caught up to what I’ve always felt and believed. I think it’s such a wonderful thing. We’re finally seeing people talk about gay rights and you’re seeing a lot of people coming out and people being conscious of their language now. It was so easy for comics in the past to make gay jokes, and now they really are questioned for it and I think that’s important and powerful.
If you can, how could you describe this tour in one word?
These next two questions are a bit off the grid, but here we go. You were a guest judge on season three of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” have you been keeping up with this season? If so, who are you rooting for?
I haven’t started it yet! I can’t wait between the weeks, I have to binge watch it in a continuous block. I get so frustrated having to wait. I watch it all at once because I get so into it. I will watch every episode with each episode of “Untucked,” and I haven’t started it but I know I’m gonna love it and I’m gonna freak out. I love the show and it’s something I’m always truly excited about.
I find myself too impatient to wait between the weeks but too impatient to let the season pass.
I used to have to wait because I used to live in Atlanta and they didn’t carry LOGO, which I thought was homophobic! In Atlanta, instead of LOGO they had this weird Atlanta church station, where you just have people making recipes. It became just a weird Georgia cooking channel instead of LOGO.
Another show you tweeted about recently which I am a huge fan of is “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” Who is your favorite character?
I love Titus! But Kimmy is so cute, and I love Carol Kane and the whole show is just so phenomenal.
I appreciate Titus for being a feminine gay man without succumbing to the stereotypical gay character.
It’s all so surprising and Tituss Burgess is so great and so is the show. I was working on another show with Tina Fey last year around the same time as that was filming called “Cabot College,” that unfortunately didn’t go forward, so I’m equally grateful and entertained that Kimmy Schmidt did.
There was a joke at The Golden Globes where your character says “I host next year.” Are you hosting next year?
I hope so! They haven’t told me no, so I’m currently planning on doing it simply from that.
Is there anything else you would like to add before you go?
I’m currently doing a homeless outreach program called “Be Robin” in San Francisco where I collect money, clothes and food for homeless people and homeless people come and take it. It’s a big charity thing because I don’t have to save any receipts, I just stand there and perform with a bunch of other people. It’s such a spectacle to see people getting haircuts and eating, it’s like a big street festival for homeless people and I’m very proud of it. There’s no real way to find out about future dates without following me on Twitter, I will announce future dates and places where we’ll be.
Thank you so much for this interview it means the absolute world to me and I’ll see you at your show!
Cho comes to Charlotte on April 9th, 10th and 11th for four shows at The Comedy Zone. Tickets start at $25. You can follow Cho on Twitter @margaretcho for more information about her “Be Robin” campaign and other general hilarity, and you can also catch her on TLC’s “All About Sex” which airs Saturdays at 11 p.m.EST/10 p.m. CST.