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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 31 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 44
Margaret Cho discusses Joan Rivers, holiday plans and that Weird Al video
Arts & Entertainment
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Margaret Cho discusses Joan Rivers, holiday plans and that Weird Al video

by Albert Rodriguez - SGN A&E Writer

Stand-up comedy is one of the toughest professions in entertainment. Not only do comedians have to perform in front of live crowds, but they have to write their own material and constantly update their act because no one wants to hear the same jokes all over again. That's what separates Margaret Cho from the pack.

A tireless performer who juggles TV, film, digital radio and music video projects, aside from special engagements and live concerts, she continually refuels the tank and heads back out on the road to make people laugh.

And whereas some comedy stars are silly, or obnoxious, she's clever and sharp. She can turn a political topic, or a religious stance, or even a Gay stereotype into something hilarious.

Cho is scheduled to perform at the Tacoma Comedy Club on November 4 and 5 (two shows nightly) with brand new content, different than what she delivered last year at the Tulalip Resort Casino and the Moore Theatre. For tickets and directions, go to www.tacomacomedyclub.com.

I got a phone call recently from the busy entertainer, who's interviewed multiple times with Seattle Gay News over the years. Though she was losing her voice, Cho was polite and cheerful during our conversation.

Albert Rodriguez: I understand the shows coming up in Tacoma will have new material. Is that correct?

Margaret Cho: Yes, it's a new show. I always have new material, but I'm working on a new show.

Rodriguez: Did 'Drop Dead Diva' run its course? Is it done?

Cho: Yes, we finished earlier this year. It was a good run. We did it for a long time and I'm still very close to the people that were on it. It was a great experience.

Rodriguez: What was that like on the final day, to wrap things up?

Cho: Because the cast is so big, not all of us had been together all the way. But the last week of filming, there were quite a few of us and so we did spend a lot of time just having dinner and being a family, which is what we have been doing for years and years. It's a very satisfying thing to become such close friends with people that you work with.

Rodriguez: We lost a comedic giant recently, Joan Rivers. What are your thoughts on this, and is there anything you remember specifically about her?

Cho: There's a lot of things I remember. I actually put a lot of them in my new show. In my show, I really do talk about my relationship with her and how it affected my relationship with comedy. Living the life that I did, she has a lot to do with it. For me, the difficulty in dealing with her death is really a crisis of the conscience, like 'Where do I get my inspiration now from?' and 'Where do I get my absolution now from? She was a very important figure in that regard, too, so I talk a lot about her in the show.

Rodriguez: As Gay marriage becomes legal in more states, do you have any wedding planning advice for couples who are getting engaged?

Cho: Well, I've had a lot of invitations to come and do their vows - I can do that, I have accreditation. In San Francisco, I can do it at City Hall; but I could do them anywhere. So, I would say 'Book everybody early and go all out; it's your special day.'

Rodriguez: Do you have any plans for the holidays, Thanksgiving or Christmas?

Cho: I'm spending it at an art convent in San Francisco with people about 25 years younger than me (laughs). Every once in a while I do these kinds of things that are out of the ordinary, so I'll be spending my holiday season doing a lot of volunteer work for the homeless in San Francisco, and doing very grassroots activism. I also want to try my hand at being a street musician. I decided this year to go very, very low-profile and make it about activism and charity work, working for the homeless, working for the people in San Francisco, and having a very different kind of Christmas.

Rodriguez: Was it as fun working on the Weird Al video ('Tacky') as it was watching it?

Cho: Oh yeah, it was fun. It was hard. It was a workout because we did it all in one shot and Al was running upstairs and downstairs to change into the different parts, so it was very, very difficult. I love those guys, I love Al. Everybody in it is a good friend of mine, so we had a good time together.

Rodriguez: There were appearances by Eric Stonestreet and Jack Black, aside from yours. Was everybody there on the same day, or were you all filmed separately?

Cho: No, it was all filmed at once and it was all one continuous shot, so if somebody made a mistake you'd have to do the whole thing over. It was hard.

Rodriguez: Are you active on social media? Where can we follow you?

Cho: I'm on Twitter @margaretcho, I'm on Facebook, and I'm on Instagram @margaret_cho. I'm very active at those media sites, especially. And, I have a podcast that is out every week on SoundCloud and iTunes called 'Monsters of Talk.'

Rodriguez: Do you still have your webisodes on YouTube?

Cho: Oh yeah, 'In Transition.' We haven't made any new ones, but the first season is still up there and it's really funny.

Rodriguez: I can't imagine you have a lot of free time. But what do you do when you're not working?

Cho: I'm a chef, so I make a lot of food for people, I eat a lot of food, I try recipes. Right now, I'm really obsessed with sardines. I'm actually going to go to the fish market in a little bit. I need to eat oily fish because of my voice, it strengthens my voice if I have really oily fish.

Rodriguez: Do you cook any native Korean dishes?

Cho: I make kimchi and the usual suspects, the very basic things. I'm not good with things that are more complicated, but I have a basic knowledge of it.

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The Seattle Public Library presents Richard Blanco's new memoir The Prince of Los Cocuyos: A Miami Childhood on November 10
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Margaret Cho discusses Joan Rivers, holiday plans and that Weird Al video
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