Cho Dependent: An Exclusive Interview with Margaret Cho
Interview by lesliedj at SinisterGirlz.com
Margaret Cho has done it all. Her comedy tours have landed her numerous televised standup specials and rebroadcasts of her feature comedy films. Her concert DVDs have grossed millions (her first special “I’m The One That I Want” broke the record for the most money grossed per print in movie history), She’s performed to sold out crowds in Carnegie Hall, The Apollo and other well-known venues around the US. Her short-lived 1994 ABC sitcom All-American Girl broke ground featuring the first Asian American family on television. While her 2003 comedy CD Revolution, based on her third sold-out national tour and concert film by the same name, earned her a Grammy nomination for Best Comedy album that year. Today Margaret Cho can be seen costarring alongside Brooke Elliot on Lifetime’s original hit comedy Drop Dead Diva currently in its second season.
She’s an accomplished comedian, actress as well as author and now the multifaceted performer is adding musician to her resume. Her full-length music album “Cho Dependent” features collaborations with Ben Lee, Fiona Apple and Ani DiFranco among others and comes out on August 24th. When we spoke with her in June she was more than willing to let us in on the album’s creative process as well as what’s to come for her Diva character Teri Lee.
SinisterGirlz: What inspired you to record a full music album? And what was the creative process like?
Margaret Cho: [I knew] I wanted to make a comedy album that was full of funny songs but I don’t know how to play music. I didn’t know how to make music and I wanted to enlist some of the people that I knew that know how to make music very well. I’m lucky enough to know some of the greatest musicians of our time and be friends with them long enough to make them do this with me. So I just called them up and said, ‘I want to make this album, will you be a part of it?’ and everybody said ‘Yes.’ The creative process was different with everybody. Sometimes I would have the initial meeting with the person and then figure out what we were doing or I would bring them [some] lyrics and they would write music or send me a demo. Or we would sit together and write, that’s something I enjoyed a lot too. I learned a lot about music. How to play guitar and how to sing from all these people helping me.”
SinisterGirlz: Aside from the album having to be funny was there something specific you wanted this album to have?
Photo by: PixieVisionProductions
Margaret Cho: I just wanted it to be good. I wanted the music to have lasting value. I know that sometimes with comedy music they’re not as well regarded as other music that’s out there. So I wanted it to be funny but I also wanted the music to sound good, I wanted the music to rock. I’m a big music fan and have been going to shows for as long as I can remember and have wanted to be a musician in a way. I think it’s [a universal thing] for most comedians we want to do music and rock stars always want to do comedy. So I thought there was someplace in between where we could meet and I really enjoyed this process.
SinisterGirlz: When you go on tour this fall will the tour feature both standup and musical numbers? Or will you save the standup for a separate show? What are you thinking of doing?
Margaret Cho: It will feature both music and [comedy] it’s still a standup show. All in all it’s still a comedy show. I will always be a comedian that is what I will always define myself as. There will be some music in it but the music is comedic so it’s still comedy.
SinisterGirlz: You’ve done just about everything; you’ve written books, done standup obviously, TV, movies, stage show (your Burlesque show ‘The Sensuous Woman’) and now music is there any thing else or another venture you’d like to try out?
Margaret Cho: I’d like to do more music I really feel like this is a great place to be. I also love burlesque but I don’t think I’ll be doing that again, that was a wonderful [experience] but I definitely want to do more music.
SinisterGirlz: What would you say inspires you to keep going in show biz and keep growing as a performer?
Margaret Cho: I always like to challenge myself and do different things and have fun. [I like to] have a great social life which I do. With making this album a lot of it was very social and getting to hang out with people that I love and make something that I love [as well]. Everybody [featured] on the album is my friend and it was a really cool time to collaborate.
SinisterGirlz: Do you ever get approached by aspiring comedians seeking advice or what kind of advice would you give a young comic starting out?
Margaret Cho: I always try to be really supportive and watch people’s act. And give them advice or tips because I have a lot of experience in that world so I know how hard it can be so I’m very into mentoring young comics and giving them a break.
SinisterGirlz: Have you ever had any onstage mishaps while performing your standup?
Margaret Cho: Not really, I’ve been doing it for so long and it’s pretty amazing that it’s never gone wrong. It’s always gone pretty good, I’ve been really lucky.
SinisterGirlz: I want to talk about Drop Dead Diva, it’s in its second season now what can you tell us about what’s to come for your character?
Photo by: PixieVisionProductions
Margaret Cho: Well this year, we’ll meet my character’s family which is cool…we’ll meet her wonderful cousin and mother, a lot of emotions for my character and we’ll later find out she’s a private investigator later in the season and some more intrigue so there’s a lot of fun stuff coming up.
SinisterGirlz: How does it feel to be on a hit show? Were you surprised by the initial success of it?
Margaret Cho: Well I really loved the script and I loved reading the pilot. I love filming it and everyone on the show is super talented, Brooke Elliott is really talented so it’s a really fantastic to be a part of it. I love it and knew it was going to be successful because I knew the script was good. [However] it’s a big change for me because I usually tour a lot so this makes my life quite different. We live in Atlanta, I live in Atlanta now where the show is filmed and it’s my home now for half the year. It’s a big change.
SinisterGirlz: You already had a successful career prior to the success of Drop Dead Diva but now that you’re on a hit show does that open up other opportunities for other acting gigs?
Margaret Cho: Yea, I got to do some other stuff [as well] and hope to do more beyond that, but for now I’m loving being on the show.
SinisterGirlz: Anything else you’d like to share with our readers that we haven’t already covered?
Margaret Cho: Well I love this album and I’m really excited to get back on tour because I haven’t been able to be on tour for so long and I can’t wait.
SinisterGirlz: Any specific topics you’ll be covering on this tour? Stuff that’s going on now perhaps?
Margaret Cho: I think I’m gonna talk about cultural stuff, a lot about race and family and what it’s like for me, cause I’m so liberal and progressive politically, being queer and how it is to live in the south because it’s such a big change so they’ll be some of that too.