Comic Margaret Cho brings 'Mother' standup show to Chicago Theatre

SHARE Comic Margaret Cho brings 'Mother' standup show to Chicago Theatre

Comic, fashion designer, activist, actress and podcaster. Margaret Cho is all of those, and on Saturday, October 19 at 8 p.m. she brings her newest standup show “Mother” to the Chicago Theatre. Here’s a bit of what she had to say during a recent conversation.

Question: What kind of show are you doing in Chicago?

Margaret Cho: My shows are pretty wild and fun and a little bit unpredictable. Live performing is always different. I talk a lot about my Asian-American heritage and identity. I talk about gay stuff. I’m queer. I’m definitely in support of gay marriage and gay rights. It’s pretty raunchy.

Q: Can you remember a time when you played to an audience that was far more conservative than the views you were expressing and how you reacted to that?

MC: One time there was a really conservative audience and they cut off my microphone. But I still wouldn’t stop, so they put a band on to play “Sweet Home Alabama” behind me to drown out my voice. But when you really try to express yourself and are very honest about things, that can happen at times….That was during the Bush administration, when things were really divided.

Q: You do a lot of musical comedy now. Where do you draw inspiration for that and what’s the key to doing it well?

MC: It’s its own thing and it’s very much about figuring out songs in rhyme. Also it’s important to me for it to sound good, too. It’s a very different kind of experience from just telling jokes, where you can go off on tangents. In songs you can’t do that. The form doesn’t allow for it.

Q: You also ride motorcycles. What new bikes have you bought and were do you ride?

MC: I crashed my bike that’s on my [“Mother” promotional] poster. My Honda. It was too difficult for me to ride a vintage bike like that, so I don’t have it anymore. And then I had a new Suzuki Boulevard, but I just got rid of that too. I’m not able to ride very much because I’m not in any one place long enough to have a bike. So I don’t have one right now, but certainly someday when I’m more settled I’d like to get another one.

Q: When and how were you first able to express yourself and let your freak flag fly?

MC: My father owned a bookstore [in San Francisco, where Cho grew up] and there were a lot of gay employees that he wanted me to learn from. They were all tattooed and they all rode motorcycles. So those are the people I grew up around. He wanted me to learn more than what he could teach me.

Cho with Joan Rivers and others on E!’s “Fashion Police.”

Q: He sounds like a very liberal-minded guy. That must have been an advantage growing up.

MC: Yeah. He’s conservative in his own way, but he also was very intent on me being into art and literature and music. I think it was almost like finishing school that he wanted for me. And he still does.

Q: There’ve been quite a few bumps throughout your career. How have those challenges made you stronger?

MC: It’s just all part of the experience. And standup comedy is great, because you can also talk about all of the different hardships. It’s a great art form for working all of that out.

Q: Has it always been easy for you to disclose stuff that’s very personal?

MC: Oh, yeah. I don’t know if privacy is necessarily that important to me more than having a good story or something to share.

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