Margaret Cho Video Interview On Her ‘Mother’ Tour, Dancing With The Stars
Margaret Cho answers questions from users of Uinterview.com about Dancing With The Stars, Drop Dead Diva and her new comedy tour Mother in an exclusive video interview.
Born and raised in San Francisco, Calif., Cho has made a career out of tackling issues of discrimination based on race, gender and sexual orientation. Along the way, she has also opened up about her relationship with her mother as well as her own personal demons, including addictions to sex, drugs and alcohol. Her most critically acclaimed stand-up show was 1999’s I’m the One That I Want.
Well, I was on Dancing with the Stars with a lot of really interesting people. The season I was on was with Bristol Palin, The Situation and David Hasslehoff and the wonderful Michael Bolton, and Jennifer Grey. I found it to be incredibly competitive and I found it to be really difficult. I’m not an athletic person. I’ve done some dancing in my life, I’ve done some burlesque, and I did belly dancing. Yet I’ve not done any ballroom dancing, which is quite a difficult sport. It’s a very, very rigid, very disciplined, very intense art form. The people on there are incredible and I remember being kicked off because I was really trying to make a statement about, I was really upset because at that time, there were a lot of suicides of LGBT youth, and there had been a big rash of them, four in two weeks. I did a big tribute to gay pride, which was wearing a rainbow flag dress and dancing to Barry Manilow, and I feel like that was a little too much for people. I remember being voted off immediately and I felt really bad about that because I thought it was a really important statement and this was a statement of who I am, somebody that cares about the LGBT community. I am bisexual, I want to put that out there, and be out and talk about it. I want to be proud about it and not only do I want to be proud about it, I want to help other people, especially younger people, come up and deal with that feeling of being different. It was a disappointment to be voted off for that, I’m not sure if that’s what it was, but I think so. Overall, I had a really great time, I’ve spent many Mondays and Tuesdays going back and watching people dance, later on. It’s a really interesting show and it’s a difficult show. I think it’s a really great learning experience; it really changed my body pretty miraculously. It got me much more active than I had ever been and that will stay with me for the rest of my life. So it’s really good.
I don’t really worry too much about shocking my audience. I think there is, for me, kind of a built-in compassion that I have for people. I don’t want to upset anybody and I don’t want to hurt people’s feelings. I think that’s really when shock comes into play. When you’re not thinking about other people’s feelings or when you’re kind of being a little selfish or you’re only going for shock, when there’s no
redeeming quality of the message you have. I think that shock is appropriate when there’s some sort of explanation underneath it. Shock value is not really value on its own. I’ve been a comic for a long time, and I have my own way of operating and doing things, but I try to take people’s feelings into account. I try to have a sense of justice about what’s going on and what I’m doing. Shock value, to me, has less value when there’s really nothing behind it that really anchors it.
I think my mother is very excited to be part of my stand-up comedy because making fun of her is something I’ve been doing ever since I was a child, since I was really young because she was so different from people on television, and she was so different from my friends’ parents. She was so foreign and so I think that’s something a lot of immigrant kids do. They kind of form this relationship with their foreign parents, they kind of make fun of them and in a way, that’s how we become American. My mother has always been really excited to be part of my stand-up comedy. I think women her age, and especially in my family, tend to recede into the background and become very invisible, which is sad. Now she’s really in the forefront of everything. She’s like the star and I really love that. And she really loves that.
I realized that stand-up comedy was going to be my career when I first started to watch it on television and understand what the job was. Watching Joan Rivers on 'Saturday Night Live' was a very big thing for me because then I saw her and I thought, ‘She’s so powerful, she’s so strong, yet physically she’s very small.’ And I was also very physically small and I thought, ‘Wow, I could do that, I could be like that.’ As
soon as I understood what the job was, that’s really when I knew I was going to do it. And it wasn’t even like any real decision. It was just an acceptance like, ‘Oh, that’s what I am and that’s what I do.’ It was a recognition more than anything else. I really had no other plan than to do stand-up comedy. I probably
made the decision around seven or eight-years-old that this was going to be my life. I started comedy very, very young and just continued. I always sort of knew this would be my life.
I have such a wonderful time. I love the show, the cast and the crew, and the writers and everybody. We just felt like a family. We shot in Georgia, and most of us were coming from Los Angeles. So we really kind of bonded being away from home and hanging out together and we really became a family.
I don’t really have anything that I do to prepare myself to go on stage, because it happens so often, I perform so much, almost every day, so I don’t really have any rituals or anything like that. I’m not particularly a ritual-oriented kind of person. So there isn’t really anything I prepare. I try to write jokes and be good. That’s the most I can do. That’s what all stand-ups do. We just try our best every night. Some people prepare or have a ritual that they do, but I never really got organized enough to do that.