Margaret Cho: Laugh it like it is
Funny, fierce, fabulous, feminist, author, activist, actress, artist, icon and iconoclast are a mere smattering of words to describe a woman who defies description. Margaret Cho is candid about her past struggles with body image and substance abuse, is a vocal advocate for the LGBT community and an unrelenting critic of past and current political regimes.
Perhaps most-widely known as a stand-up comedian, Cho who this year was named one of Rolling Stone’s “50 Best Stand-up Comics of All-Time,” brings her “Fresh off the Bloat,” comedy tour to the Sands Bethlehem Event Center, 8 p.m. Nov 17.
Cho won’t lack for material given the present news cycle. “It’s crazy because there’s different stuff every day,” says Cho during a telephone call this past August. “You know, you just are never finished with him [Donald Trump]. There’s always something. It’s really nuts and we’re going see how this plays out.”
“It’s kind of scary and all, this stuff about North Korea, I don’t know a worse combination that Trump and Kim Jong-un. It’s really bad,” says Cho, whose parents are Korean.
Cho’s on-stage performances are continually evolving as international and domestic events play out. This interview was conducted prior to the increasing Hollywood sexual harassment, abuse and misconduct scandals that have made for daily headlines.
As a victim herself of sexual abuse, the outspoken comedian is likely to address the pervasive abuses by powerful figures that have swiftly moved from rumor and hushed innuendo to public outrage.
As for her sets developing along with the news of the day Cho says, “You have to. It’s always got to change and grow. That’s one of the fabulous things about it [performing], is that we get to do that. Social media is really kind of where you get it all and you have it all right in front of you.
“I’m also concerned about what’s going to happen in the world,” she adds.
“It’s crazy. You kind of have the worst of everything combined, with this sort of cold war thing happening again, not with Russia, of course, but with North Korea and all of the threats and bluster.”
In addition to her stand-up tour, Cho has been busy shooting a TV pilot for “Highland,” a show about the booming marijuana economy in California.
“It’s about a Korean-American family and they’re in the middle of the big marijuana boom in Los Angeles, which is actually happening right now,” says Cho.
“Right now, there’s a big green rush. I play the daughter who is [recently] out of rehab. She has to stay and work with her family in this dispensary and not get high and not go crazy. There’s a lot of secrets, family stories. It’s a story about drugs and it [asks] ‘What is addiction?’
“What are drugs? Is marijuana a drug? [It’s also about] incredible wealth to suddenly have. Because that’s what’s happening out here as people get very, very wealthy, very quickly.”
“It’s in a way it’s like ‘Dallas,’” she says, referring to the iconic TV show. “Instead of oil, it’s weed.”
“I’m really proud of it. We’ve been working on this show for so long, and to finally get it out there. I’m thrilled.
At the time of this interview, the show was in the pre-production and casting stage and began shooting shortly after in September, forcing the postponement of the originally scheduled Sands tour date.
In addition to the pilot, Cho is also developing a new podcast, which is still in the earliest development stage. She describes it as a “work in progress.
“I have so many interests and there’s so much to learn about and talk about.”
The “Fresh off the Bloat” tour has Cho criss-crossing the globe with stops in Asia, Europe and the United Kingdom, in addition to the United States dates.
“I’m excited to come to [Bethlehem]. It’s a big tour,” she says. “I really love it. I love touring. It’s a big part of my life. It’s a big part of my identity to be a touring artist. I’m just very pleased and proud to be able to do it as long as I have been. It’s a real passion.”
Tickets: sandseventcenter.com; 610-297-7414