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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, August 20, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 34
SGN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Margaret Cho gets Cho-Dependent
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SGN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Margaret Cho gets Cho-Dependent

by Eric Andrews-Katz - SGN Contributing Writer

Cho-Dependent
August 27
Paramount Theatre


Comedian. Activist. Revolutionary. Margaret Cho's name is synonymous with many titles. Her television appearances have ranged from early beginnings on The Golden Girls spinoff The Golden Palace to the current hit Drop Dead Diva. Her comedic styles run the gamut, dealing with sensitive subjects including weight issues and alcohol/drug dependencies. Her work for the GLBT community is tireless, leading to San Francisco, her hometown, declaring April 30 'Margaret Cho Day.' Given the opportunity to interview this wonderful lady and Gay icon, this Seattle Gay News reporter jumped at the chance.

Eric Andrews-Katz: Did you always want to be a comedian?

Margaret Cho: Actually, yes. When I was very young, it was something that I certainly aspired to and wanted to do. Ever since I understood what it was from watching it on TV, I thought this would be my life.

Andrews-Katz: Who inspired you to first perform comedy?

Cho: I think Richard Pryor was my first major influence. Then Eddie Murphy and maybe Joan Rivers. Steve Martin was a great one, too.

Andrews-Katz: Which comedians inspire you today?

Cho: I love people like Chris Rock and Wanda Sykes. Those are major influences today.

Andrews-Katz: With all of your political activism, what do you think is the biggest problem facing the [collective] Queer community?

Cho: I think one of the major issues today is Gay marriage and marriage equality. There is no acceptance around Gay marriage, which means there is this idea that we can pay lip service to the word equality without have to really have it apply. It's amazing to me why people are willing to put out so much money and effort, and go to such measures, to be sure that Gays can't be married. Those who make the most efforts are usually the ones that have nothing to do with Gay marriage. Their lives won't be changed by it at all! The only problems they have are theological, and that's not enough for an argument.

Andrews-Katz: What will be the future for Condi, the "alternative lifestyle companion" on LOGO's Rick & Steve: The Happiest Gay Couple in the World?

Cho: I don't know. We have not recorded any new episodes yet, so I'm not sure what the future holds. I'd love to do more, though!

Andrews-Katz: What do you think is the biggest contribution in making Lifetime's Drop Dead Diva such a huge success?

Cho: I think it is a great show, and I think the performances and writing are excellent. People really seem to have fallen in love with it. So that's why it is so successful.

Andrews-Katz: In the past, you've referenced the challenges that size can present during filming a TV show. Do you think Brooke Elliot (who plays Jane Bingum on Drop Dead Diva) receives the same kind of pressures?

Cho: Well, I think because the show is about self-acceptance and finding the beauty within, it's a little different. Brooke is so gorgeous in every way, so she is really the perfect role model of how we should feel about ourselves, and how we go about doing awesome stuff.

Andrews-Katz: Do you think shows like Drop Dead Diva, or Hairspray the Musical are changing the ways we view and accept an individual's size?

Cho: I hope it helps. For me it helps. I am a fan of the show as well as being somebody who is on it. I feel it does a great job, especially when people are feeling good about themselves. It gives a new idea of what beauty is.

Andrews-Katz: Do you think there is a double standard for men and women when it comes to television and an actor's physical size?

Cho: Of course there is! There aren't a lot of women out there who have any variance in the way they look on television. You don't see many [women] over a size zero on TV. & You see [the full range] of different sizes of guys. We don't seem to have the same freedom with women on TV.

Andrews-Katz: What are some of the subjects you'll be exploring in the new show, Cho-Dependent?

Cho: The album is about a lot of things. Some darker themes such as drug addiction and dependences, which is a play on the title. There are lighter things, so it runs the gambit through a bunch of different topics. I discuss the idea that the seed of domestic violence is planted inside everyone. I discuss dark and also silly things, so it's all over the place.

Andrews-Katz: Your new CD features live performances of songs. What singers or groups inspired you to tackle this angle?

Cho: Actually, it's not live, it's produced. But the people who inspired me are the people involved with the CD. It's music and comedic songs, comedy with music, and all the people who are on it are great. Tegan and Sarah, Ani DiFranco, and Fiona Apple are just some of the major players and influences in the recording of the album.

Andrews-Katz: What are the biggest challenges to your success?

Cho: I don't know. I just really think it's about continuing, serving, and writing more. Just being in the game and staying true to your ideals and trying to enjoy it, too. There are a lot of different types of challenges.

Andrews-Katz: What is the first sentence that comes to mind with each of the following names? Barack Obama.

Cho: He's great! I love him. I think he's a great president and doing a fantastic job.

Andrews-Katz: Former President George W. Bush.

Cho: He lives in Dallas, and Texas voted for Obama. I find that interesting.

Andrews-Katz: Rue McClanahan.

Cho: I miss her. She really helped me out in the beginning. I did an episode of The Golden Palace and was supposed to sing a song. I was nervous. She sang the note into my ear right before so I would have it perfect. She was a very generous, beautiful, extremely funny, and talented lady.

Andrews-Katz: Young-Hie Cho [Margaret's mother].

Cho: My first comedic memory of her is when she used to take us to a department store called Montgomery Ward. She'd say [accent implied] "Kids, let's go to Montgomery Ward," and we'd laugh so hard. That was my first impression of her. I was 7 when I was doing that.

Margaret Cho has made over 28 appearances in film and television. Her pioneering television comedy All-American Girl featured the first all-Asian family on American TV. She has been the recipient of awards from GLAAD, Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the National Organization for Women, among many others. She is also the author of two books and has appeared on eight different CDs/DVDs and is currently touring the country in her new show, Cho-Dependent.

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