O&AN wants to send you and a guest to see the one and only Margaret Cho at Zanies Comedy Night Club! The show runs Thursday, Sept. 10, through Sunday, Sept. 13. All you have to do to enter is send an email to [email protected] with “Margaret” in the subject line. And be sure to include a day-time phone number in your entry, so we can call you if you win. Good luck!
More about Margaret…
Margaret Cho was born December 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 and wonderful time."
Her grandfather was a Methodist minister who ran an orphanage in Seoul during the Korean War. Ignoring the traditions of her patriarchal culture, her mother bravely resisted an arranged marriage in Korea and married Margaret’s father who writes joke books – in Korean. "Books like 1001 Jokes for Public Speakers – real corny stuff," Margaret says. "I guess we’re in the same line of work. But we don’t understand each other that way. I don’t know why the things he says are funny and the same for him."
Margaret started performing stand-up at age 16 in a comedy club called The Rose & Thistle above a bookstore her parents ran. Soon after, she won a comedy contest where first prize was opening for Jerry Seinfeld. She moved to Los Angeles in the early ’90s and lived in a house with several other young performers.
I moved out because I wasn’t the most famous. If the Manson Family had come, I wouldn’t have been Sharon Tate; I would have been one of the supporting victims, and who wants that? Janeane Garofalo moved into my old room. Anyway, ‘Cho’ written in blood on the wall doesn’t look as cool as ‘Garofalo.’
Still in her early twenties, Cho hit the college circuit, where she immediately became the most booked act in the market and garnered a nomination for Campus Comedian of The Year. Arsenio Hall introduced her to late night audiences, Bob Hope put her on a prime time special and, seemingly overnight, Margaret Cho became a national celebrity.
In 1994, she starred in a short-lived ABC sitcom called All-American Girl. Says Margaret: "There were just so many people involved in that show, and so much importance put on the fact that it was an ethnic show. It’s hard to pin down what "ethnic" is without appearing to be racist. And then, for fear of being too "ethnic," it got so watered down for television that by the end, it was completely lacking in the essence of what I am and what I do. I learned a lot, though. It was a good experience as far as finding myself, knowing who I was and what direction I wanted to take with my comedy."
In 1999, Margaret chronicled her experience on the sitcom in an off Broadway one-woman show called I’m The One That I Want. The show was extremely well received, toured the U.S, and was made into a concert film and a best-selling book of the same name. The film, which garnered incredible reviews, broke the record for the most money grossed per print in movie history.
After the success of her first show, Margaret launched Notorious C.H.O. in 2001, a smash-hit 37-city national tour that culminated in a sold-out concert at Carnegie Hall. Notorious C.H.O. was also recorded and released as a feature film, hailed by the New York Times as "Brilliant!" Both films were acquired by Showtime Cable Networks in 2004 and are currently airing on their channels.
Margaret embarked on her third sold-out national tour, Revolution, in 2003. The tour ultimately grossed $4.4 million and was heralded as "Her strongest show yet!" by the Chicago Sun Times. The concert film premiered on the Sundance Channel in 2004 and was released on DVD later that year. The CD of Revolution was nominated for a Grammy for best comedy album of the year for 2003.
In 2004, Margaret took her politically charged State of Emergency tour through the swing states of the Presidential election. Lauded as "Murderously funny!" by the New York Times, State of Emergency eventually evolved into her fourth national show, Assassin. Her most political and topical work to date, Assassin toured the U.S., Canada and Australia and was filmed at the Warner Theatre in Washington D.C. The concert film premiered in select theatres and on the gay and lesbian premium channel Here! TV in late 2005 and is now available on DVD.
This year Margaret is returning to her stand-up roots with a brand new tour, Beautiful. Ticket and show info are available on her tour page. In describing what Beautiful means to her, Margaret explains: "I want to explore the nature of beauty. What is funny and scary about it, why we often don’t feel beautiful because our society’s standards are so rigid and unattainable. A DJ once asked me, ‘If you woke up tomorrow and you were beautiful, what would you do? If you were, blonde, blue-eyed, 5 foot 11, and weighed 100 pounds, what would you do?!?’ Well, I probably wouldn’t get up in that case, because I’d be too weak to stand. If that is his only idea of beauty then I feel really sorry for him. I want everyone to feel beautiful and I want to do it with laughter. Why not feel good about ourselves?"
Margaret was the recipient of the first ever Best Comedy Performance award at the 2007 Asian Excellence Awards. She also recently received the First Amendment Award from the ACLU of Southern California, and the Intrepid Award from the National Organization for Women (NOW). She has also been honored by GLAAD, American Women in Radio and Television, the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF), the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), and PFLAG for "making a significant difference in promoting equal rights for all, regardless of race, sexual orientation or gender identity."
"I didn’t mean to be a role model. I just speak my truth," she says. " I guess speaking from your heart really creates a huge impact, and if I can encourage people to do that, then I would love to be a role model. If I could encourage people to use their voices loudly, then that’s my reward. I don’t care about winning an academy award; I don’t care about mainstream acceptance, because it’s never going to be what I want it to be. I just want to do my work and love it."