‘Nothing is sacred’ with Margaret Cho - INTERVIEW
blog by Kathryn Przybyla • September 03, 2013 @ 11:53am
We’ve covered many shows at Helium Comedy Club, but this one sounds like a “can’t miss” event.
Margaret Cho, known for her hilarious roles on television, books, stand up and more will be in the Queen City later this month for four shows.
Margaret Cho was born Dec. 5, 1968 and raised in San Francisco. “It was different than any other place on Earth,” she says. “I grew up and went to grammar school on Haight Street during the ’70s. There were old hippies, ex-druggies, burnouts from the ’60s, drag queens, and Chinese people. To say it was a melting pot – that’s the least of it. It was a really confusing, enlightening, wonderful time.”
Her biography gives a great taste of where the funny girl finds inspiration for writing and the inspiration she brings to others. “Through her hard work, Margaret has had the opportunity to be heard, to extend her point of view and become regarded as a true pioneer in her field. She takes none of it for granted.”
In an interview Cho says, “It’s a wonderful thing to be known as a ‘safe haven’ for people. A lot people who come to my shows don’t necessarily consider themselves traditional comedy fans. I seem to be a safe alternative for people who don’t think they’re being represented in society.”
Take a look at our chat with Cho talking about her mentors, Buffalo wings and her obsession with The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper.”
We’re excited to have you come to Helium for a few days. Have you ever been to the Buffalo or Niagara Falls area before?
Margaret Cho: It was wild and very rock and roll. It felt very much like I was in a band, even though I wasn’t. My touring group stayed a few days and it was very cold, but the audience in Buffalo was incredibly warm and rowdy. So much fun.
You began performing at such a young age, where do you draw inspiration for most of your material?
MC: At that point, I didn’t know what to make of adults, so that was a lot of my subject matter. Also being kind of a good church girl which is strange to think of now. I used to be a Sunday school teacher, so I discussed that a lot. It’s really different from the material I do now.
From stand up to writing, television, movies, books – you’ve been successful in every sort of media it seems like. What’s your secret?
MC: I think that I just try to do whatever I can, try to enjoy it and hope that others do too. I believe if you try your best, you can make anything happen. Mostly I just write from the heart and laugh a lot. Being a happy person helps when you are determined to make others happy too.
Who are the people in your life you make you laugh the most?
MC: There are three people who are the funniest—Selene Luna, Jim Short and John Roberts. Fortunately I have been able to tour with all of them and they keep me laughing constantly.
What is the worst joke you’ve ever heard?
MC: I can’t say that anything that attempts to be funny is bad. I think that the nature of jokes is so noble, you want to make someone laugh. No matter what it is, the intentions behind it are good. So even bad jokes are good jokes and terrible jokes are even better.
Are you a fan of chicken wings?
MC: I’m definitely a hot extra hot hot hot kind of girl. I mean, I am Korean, and I can’t enjoy food unless I am sweating. It’s kind of an addiction. I love Buffalo wings because they can be so sour and spicy but then there’s the creamy dressing that cools you off. It could possibly be one of my favorite foods, and that is saying a lot. I am a major eater, it’s truly what I do best.
Having worked all over, where have been some of your favorites cities or countries to visit?
MC: I love Austria, which is a relatively new place for me to work—as is Germany. There’s something about the way the people are, then the culture and the traditional garments – I actually wear lederhosen year round. That’s my favorite look. It’s kind of outdoorsy but also pretty and masculine but delicate. I have way too many lederhosen it’s kind of bizarre.
Who have been role models or mentors in your own career?
MC: My favorite show biz advice is “open with your silver, close with your gold.” So it’s like do good, then do better. It’s a good way to approach. My favorite comics are people I worked with—like Bill Hicks, Jerry Seinfeld and Roseanne. They have all helped me a great deal, both as examples and directly, especially Jerry Seinfeld.
You’ve been called a “patron saint for outsiders” – what does that meant to you?
MC: I guess I am such an outsider and I try to help those who feel the same. I do love that my work can make people feel good, and less lonely, which is all a great honor.
If you could collaborate and work with any influential person who would it be?
MC: I’d love to make a record with Wilco and I wrote an interesting song for Yoko Ono called “I’m the One and Ono”, which Sean Lennon really liked. I keep trying to get a band together with Sean. I think it would be so exciting.
I obsess on The Beatles “Sgt. Pepper,” which was the first record I remember being played at my parents house. There’s a tremendous power in music and when I think about history and the last century, so much influence came from recorded music, which in contrast to the world, is relatively young.
What can we expect from Margaret Cho in the upcoming year?
MC: Lots of comedy shows, lots of touring, a television special at the end of the tour, some records—I just completed one with David Garza. It has very unique novelty and comic songs, spanning all genres from hip hop to country. I just got an electric sitar – something very challenging and new. There’s always something challenging and new on the horizon.
Photo courtesy of Facebook.