Margaret Cho’s performance on HBO in 1994 is still hilarious and relevant. She walked across the stage in a leather jumpsuit, said fu** like a valley girl, and talked about homosexuality like it was already a part of everyone’s life. I could relate to everything she said. From having mostly gay friends to not being fat but letting one comment make you obsess for the next several years. I felt like “Finally a female comedian who makes me feel ok about having an unpopular opinion and a voice and who looks the most unbreakable when she lets herself be fragile on stage. Proving once again that the most beautiful thing a woman can be is herself.
Ara: I’ve watched the 1994 HBO special a few times. You could do that same routine today and people would laugh. The hardest thing to do is stay relevant. The best comedians are ahead of their time and current. When did you realize that you were funny? And when did you decide that you could make money just being you?
Margaret: Thank you!! You are so nice. I never really think about relevance or whether I’m with the times or not. I just try to be funny and enjoy the moment and the excitement of my job. I wanted to be a comedian from the first time I saw it on tv. I loved Joan Rivers, Steve Martin, Lily Tomlin, Richard Pryor, George Carlin –I loved comedy and I knew that was what I was going to be. I think I might have been 5 or 6 years old, but I knew I was supposed to do comedy. I didn’t think about anything else. I started performing it around the age of 14 and made a pretty good living when I was still in my teens. It has always been my life.
Ara: What was it like growing up in San Francisco? Did the freedom of living there free you from the traditions of your own culture? Does fearlessness come naturally?
Margaret: I just knew that I was supposed to be doing what I was doing. I never really fit into Korean culture and I was always an awkward person, even as a little kid. I was fearless because I had nothing to lose. I was already an outcast so it was natural to want to be outside of whatever was happening. I think that freedom is really being alone, and being able to decide what your life is going to be!! San Francisco was an incredible place to grow up. I witnessed firsthand the phenomenal work of Harvey Milk and the sad day of his assassination. I saw and felt the devastating impact of AIDS, then the amazing way we came back from the tragedy, with a political voice and power that no one had seen before– that no one had even imagined yet. I am lucky to have grown up in San Francisco, an awe inspiring city in a myriad of ways.
Rapid Fire Mode! Margaret Cho’s Favorite:
Album? Yankee Hotel Foxtrot/Wilco
Film? In Cold Blood
Comedian? Jim Short
“I’m the One that I Want”
Billy Bragg on Margaret Cho’s podcast “Monsters of Talk”
Margaret Cho HBO special called “Mother” had the safety off as Margaret gave her take on sex, queer politics, drug, guns identity, and madness. Her HBO special “I’m the One That I Want” was filmed at the Warfield Theater in San Francisco and is already one of her most legendary performances. If you want a taste of Cho hit up her blog for hilarity and perception. And check her special with Katy Perry and Joanne the Scammer which was live yesterday on YouTube.