by Albert Rodriguez -
SGN A&E Writer
TULALIP RESORT CASINO
Margaret Cho hasn't just been around the block, she's paved the sidewalk of that block. The first mainstream Asian-American comic - a female one, at that - Cho launched her career in the early '90s as an improvisational stand-up comedian and then ventured into television, cinema, and music. She earned her third Grammy nomination for last year's DVD recording Cho Dependent: Live in Concert. Openly Bisexual and outspoken, she's been a frontline advocate for Gay marriage, among other LGBT issues, in her home state of California.
Her newest work, a touring show called 'Mother,' is being unveiled to select audiences in the coming weeks, including a sold-out performance at Tulalip Resort Casino's Orca Ballroom on February 15. I reached Cho, who also stars on the Lifetime series Drop Dead Diva, by phone, and here are the highlights of our conversation.
Albert Rodriguez: I presume your new show is based on your own mother?
Margaret Cho: Part of it. And it's also about this day and age of motherhood and feeling like 'Where do you sit on that continuum?' and being that age. It's really reflective, like, 'Is that gonna be my life?' I definitely think it can be about every mother in the world at this point.
Rodriguez: It's also a look at mothers in Queer culture, right? Can you tell us a little about that?
Cho: Well, like the way we look at our own icons - people like Lady Gaga, who is definitely like a mother figure, even though she's really young. We need that, we need somebody who will be our mother figure, in the same way that Madonna is. All of those icons are important, Madonna for sure. Or, Amy Winehouse, even Whitney Houston - these flawed maternal figures, too, are really important.
Rodriguez: Are you going to the Grammy ceremony?
Cho: No, I unfortunately won't be able to because I'm gonna be in Hawaii, which is great, the night before. And my Grammy category gets presented really early in the day, so I don't think I can make it back in time.
Rodriguez: You like Hawaii - you play there regularly.
Cho: I do. I like the place. It's so Asian-American. I think any Asian-American person needs to go there because you really feel like you belong. It reminds me of San Francisco, too, in its ethnic kind of environment. So I love it.
Rodriguez: What do you there in Hawaii? Do you surf, go to the beach, lay in the sun?
Cho: I'm more into the food - I'm into eating and drinking. So, it's more like Hulas and nightlife than it is necessarily about the beach or the sun.
Rodriguez: You sometimes like to roast celebrities and public figures in your live shows. Are there any current celebrities you can't wait to rip apart?
Cho: I had a good time with the election. To me, the whole Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan thing was really intense in how homophobic that whole campaign was, but then they were so Gay, too. They were like a really old-time Gay couple, like Palm Springs Gay or something. They looked so Gay to me, so that was a real fun thing for me to talk about. But I'm really grateful that things turned out the way they did.
Rodriguez: I've seen shirtless photos of Paul Ryan and he actually has a nice body.
Cho: He does. He's totally such a twink. It's ironic that so much of what they were talking about and doing was homophobic because he was just so Gay to me.
Rodriguez: Is the 'Mother' show you're bringing to Tulalip a trial run, is it something that you might make some changes to and bring back at a later date?
Cho: I will definitely come back. This is like the beginning of this tour and then I'll come back and do something in a club in Seattle. But I definitely wanted to play some other places around Washington, especially right now with Gay marriage legal there and marijuana - not even medical marijuana, recreational pot - is legal there, so I'm super excited to go. [laughs]
Rodriguez: In one of your Chelsea Lately appearances, you mentioned that you'd stopped smoking pot. Maybe you can start again since it's legal here now.
Cho: I know, I have to try it out. [laughs] To me, it's incredible that people are getting together and voting on that. And also Gay marriage is legal there now. Those are two things that are really, really exciting to me about Washington.
Rodriguez: How long is your show, and is it interactive?
Cho: Yeah, I think it's pretty interactive. I generally do about 90 minutes, depending on what's happening or where I'm at. It's probably the most improvisation and that sort of becomes a very exciting thing, because now it's very interchangeable - it changes every day, so I love that.
Rodriguez: Do you have any celebrity crushes?
Cho: I think Anne Hathaway is so cute. It's so beautiful to see her do different types of things. I think she's awesome. Oh, and I like that guy from The Hobbit, Martin Freeman, I think. He was in The Office. Those are two good crushes.
Rodriguez: What about the twinks, like Zac Efron or the Biebs?
Cho: Oh, my God, Zac Efron! He is so adorable. I did a movie with him, he's really amazing. His perfection is kind of hard to beat. He's such a perfect twink. I love him.
Rodriguez: He's also a big supporter of the Gay community.
Cho: Yeah, he told me that he's come to see me before, so maybe he'll be in the audience. He's just really adorable.
Rodriguez: Is there common friendship between you and other female comedians, like Kathy Griffin and Lisa Lampanelli?
Cho: Kathy is my old friend and a great comedian and somebody I've known for a long, long time. I think there's great camaraderie, at least in women comics, because there's not a lot of us, so we need each other to sort of check in and survive. I'm such a fan of so many of the women in comedy and Kathy is certainly a true, true, true friend.
Rodriguez: Does your Gaydar go off on Daniel Tosh?
Cho: I've never met him, so I can't say for sure. But if I meet him I'll let you know. It's hard to tell.
Rodriguez: Why should people go see 'Mother'? Why shouldn't they miss it?
Cho: Oh, I think it's new and really exciting for me. You get to a point when you're doing comedy where you get really good at it and I think I've gotten to this good place in my work where it's like, 'This is what people should see.' I think it's pretty fantastic.
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