Comedian, actress, director, producer, writer, musician and activist — there is nothing that Margaret Cho can’t do! In her two decades on the scene, she has established herself as one of the hardest working entertainers in the game. Her her unique brand of humor and quick wit have garnered her legions of fans around the globe. Even with all of her success, she has no plans on slowing down! In fact, 2012 is shaping up to be one of her biggest years to date. This summer alone, Cho began her fourth season playing legal assistant Teri Lee in the popular Lifetime dramedy ‘Drop Dead Diva’ and found being nominated for her first Emmy for side-splittingly funny guest role as the deceased North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il on NBC’s ’30 Rock’. This fall, she will host Food Network’s reality show ‘Blind Dinner Party’. Even with all of those irons in the fire, Margaret Cho is taking her show on the road! That’s right! Her edgiest stand-up tour to date, ‘Mother’, is currently making it’s way across the United States to a venue near you. A master at her craft, her live show is not to be missed and is earning rave reviews! Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Margaret Cho to discuss her inspirations, her amazing career, the creation of the “Mother” tour and much more!
What drew you to the world of comedy initially and made you pursue it professionally?
I just knew it was going to be my job — when I saw it and realized it was a job that could be done, what you could grow up and become.
Who would you cite as your biggest influences, either professionally or otherwise, who shaped the performer we see today?
I’d say certainly Joan Rivers, and then beyond comedy, people like Liz Phair and Juliana Hatfield. Of course Bjork, Chrissy Hynde — I love the women of rock!
You have been at it for years and are still going strong. To what do you attribute your longevity?
I love comedy and it’s my social life and my work and my family all rolled into one. It sustains me beyond a career — It’s my life.
Much of your material in your act is based on your life. At this point, you don’t hold much back.
I don’t know, there’s some things held back in a way, but then I look for a ruthless honesty that is more fun to me and more courageous, although it is not enough to be truthful — there has to be something really funny there too!
Was it difficult for you to get to that point?
No but it’s sometimes hard for people in my life, although I think everyone is used to it by now.
Tell us about your new tour, “Mother,” and why you’re devoting a whole show to the theme of maternal figures.
It’s lots of jokes about my mom and then lots of jokes about mothers as people look at me like a maternal figure now, as i am in my 40s, and also I wrote really crass dirty material that I think is funny coming from someone who is viewed as a mom — taking the sacred to it’s profane conclusion.
What can you tell us about your typical writing process and what has keep you inspired through the years?
I do a lot of writing while performing, so that happens fairly easily and organically, and then I do a lot of blogging, which also contributes. I don’t have a set process. It just happens when I work, which is often.
At this point in your career, what do you consider some of the biggest challenges in performing standup comedy?
It’s all about traveling, and trying to do as many things as possible in a limited amount of time. the shows are always great — it’s getting there!
Is life on the road something you look forward to?
I love it, but it does get draining. I think I am most myself when touring, that is what I have always done, but I get tired!
Looking back on your earlier work. How do you feel you have evolved a comic since you started out?
I think that I have become much more introspective and trusting of my own instincts as an artist. it’s never failed me.
Two awesome tour posters were created for the “Mother” tour by Austin Young and Michael Gaughan. How did that collaboration come about?
Austin has been photographing me for years and has always done my tour posters. Michael is fantastic! I connected with him through Neil Hamburger, who is a very good friend of mine. Neil and I had Michael do our album artworkwe just recorded 2 songs and are releasing them as a single. I loved the painting and so I commissioned another from Michael.
I really enjoyed your work on “Cho Dependent”. What was the highlight for you on that project and is music something we might see more of in your future?
I loved making that record and my favorite was getting to spend time in the studio with everyone. They are all close friends of mine and i loved getting to see their worlds from that perspective. I love making music and will continue to!
Your career has so many defining moments and unique elements from writing, music, television, film, etc. Is there something that you haven’t tackled that you would like to pursue?
I think it’s just about continuing, just enjoying it all, which is what i have done. I am not sure what is left undone!
You have done a couple of great books in the past. Any chance we will see you doing a new
one sometime soon?
I’d love to, and I would also like to become a better writer, which is a constant goal.
You do a great job with your website and social media outlets. Do you feel social media has had
a big impact on you as an artist?
Thank you! I would love to do more – I am just discovering it really, I mean it’s still amazing to me how connected we all are at all times.
It really seems that standup is going through a bit of a renaissance. Is this a trend that you have noticed as an artist?
Yes and I love it. my favorite people are Tig Notaro and Wanda Sykes. There is so much great comedy happening!
You’ve seen the change so much through the years. What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in the comedy in this current climate?
I think the best way to go is to figure out what you love about it, and just go with the love. that is what will sustain you.
What’s the best part of being Margaret Cho these days?
I guess it is that every day is unique and new!
In your opinion, what does the future hold for you? — no plans on packing it in any time soon I hope!
Oh no, I am not one for retirement. I have to do this for my health!
Catch Margaret Cho on the “Mother” Tour! See the dates below and visit her official website at www.margaretcho.com for the latest information!
Aug 11 – 18: Provincetown, MA – The Art House
Aug 19: Cherry Grove, NY (Fire Island) – The Ice Palace
Sept 6: Las Vegas, NV – The Mirage
Sept 8: Shreveport, LA – Robinson Film Center
Sept 16: Atlanta, GA – Punchline
Sept 17: Charlotte, NC – Comedy Zone
Sept 18: Louisville, KY – Improv
Sept 19: Nashville, TN – Zaines
Sept 20: Birmingham, AL – Stardome
Sept 21: Knoxville, TN – Bijou Theater
Sept 22: Asheville, NC – Orange Peel
Sept 24: Carrboro, NC – Cat’s Cradle
Sept 25: Annapolis, MD – Ram’s Head OnStage
Sept 26: Charlottesville, VA – The Jefferson
Sept 28: Ridgefield, CT – The Ridgefield Playhouse
Sept 29: Portland, ME – State Theater
Sept 30: Concord, NH – Capital Center for the Arts
Oct 2: Burlington, VT – Higher Ground
Oct 3: Albany, NY – The Swyer Theater at The Egg
Oct 5 & 6: Cleveland, OH – Improv
Oct 12 & 13: Portland, OR – Helium Comedy Club
Oct 26 – 30: London, UK – Leicester Square Theater