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FEATURE: Margaret Cho. To Die For!
by Emmanuel Garcia
2005-03-01

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On March 4, 2005, the notorious, revolutionary, Margaret Cho returns to the stage on a rampage with The Assassin Tour, which starts in Orlando March 4 and makes its trek through 26 cities, stopping at the Chicago Theater March 11.

While she's traveling the country, she'll also be finishing principle photography on her first narrative feature, Bam Bam and Celeste, which has been described as a fag and fag hag version of Dumb and Dumber, and writing her second book, also due out in 2005.

Margaret Cho is a seasoned comedic performer who started out doing standup at the age of 16 in San Francisco. Since then, she has had her own television show, All-American Girl, and gone on three successful tours, one of which was nominated for a Grammy last year. During the previous election year Margaret took on a whole new direction in her comedy by making it more political, trying to make a change in the world while making us all laugh at the same time. I sat down with Margaret to talk about who she'd like to assassinate, London, and Chicago-style Pizza!

Emmanuel Garcia: Let' talk about your new tour, Assassin. Where does the word assassin come from?

Margaret Cho: Well, I have all of these movies where Asian girls are always assassins, like House of Flying Daggers and movies like that. I just though, 'Ooh! I want to do that.' That's kind of where the title comes from. Also, the idea of comedians pointing their target on something and hitting it: hitting conservatives, hitting injustice, hitting war, hitting homophobia, hitting hatred. It's really about setting your sights on something to hit on.

EG: What is the show about?

MC: It's really about the state of politics and how our country is viewed by the rest of the world, such as how we are dealing with our administration and how we are dealing with issues like gay marriage. Just because we didn't get it this year does not mean that the issue is done or it's over. It's about getting people motivated and fighting, because it's something that we need to do now.

EG: Now that Bush was voted in, any tips on how we can get through the next four years?

MC: ... Maintain a sense of humor and maintain a sense of levity and hope about it. It's really something we can understand. We don't know what John Kerry could have accomplished as president, because we just have no real knowledge of his ability as a leader in that respect, but we do know Bush is going to fuck it up!

At least we have the knowledge that we know what we are dealing with. ... To me, I think Bush is in an unenviable position because there is so much opposition against him. There are so many people still angry with the administration. There is a lot of stuff that he has to deal with. It's going to be kind of great to see what happens

EG: Do you think there is a media backlash against gay marriage?

MC: The Democrats are blaming that for Bush's victory. They are saying if gays hadn't made such a big deal about gay marriage, we would have been able to change the president. ... It isn't of any value to look at the presidential race in that way because then you're saying so it's OK for the nation to be homophobic, it's OK to have diminished rights for certain Americans, and it's OK to have an unequal society. That's really what you're doing when you condone this idea that gays should be quiet about gay marriage, 'cause then you're saying that certain things are OK, like homophobia, hatred, ignorance and those are permissible in our society when used towards gaining power in an election. It's not permissible in any way. Really, what we're seeing with Bush's victory and his platform against marriage is a really unflattering view of the country. You see how dumb people really are. They actually believe that gay marriage would somehow affect heterosexual marriage, and it wouldn't. There is no way that it could and that's just dumb. The dumbness of our country and the dumbness that we're seeing is an interesting thing.

EG: We actually spoke this time last year, and it's interesting where we are now and where we were then. You took on a lot during this past election. How have you changed since last year?

MC: Yeah, to me it doesn't feel so much of a change, just more experienced within the whole drama unfolding, like I see myself more of a fighter within it. I have more of an understanding of our government and what we are doing and more of an understanding of what is possible outside of what we have now. I think it's more knowledge ... that we need to fight for what we need to get.

EG: Have your opinions affected your ability to get gigs or TV opportunities?

MC: ... If they have, I don't care really. I don't want a 'job on Fox.'

EG: You're also going to Australia. Is this a first for you?

MC: No. I've been there before and it's great. I love Australia! I really love this whole idea of international travel and doing comedy in different countries. It's interesting to see what other people think of Americans—it's really exciting.

EG: Is it different? You know how culturally things are different in other countries. I would imagine that a punch line would be a little different. Do you change it?

MC: Well, it just depends. Some things are universal and some things are very specific to wherever I am. I just did the show for the last couple of months in London. That was enormously successful and really fun and a lot of the material I did was about the House of Lords and the House of Commons and about Parliament and Tony Blair and all the things they were experiencing.

It's really interesting how different they view politics and how much it affects their lives, and it was different. It was the same attitude over all. But the material was shifted to accommodate the politics of the nation.

EG: Tell me about your two movie projects, Social Grace and Bam Bam and Celeste?

MC: Social Grace is finished. I don't know when it's going to come out, but Bam Bam and Celeste is starting production right now. We are in production and beginning the photography this week, so we are very excited.

EG: Who is Bam Bam and who is Celeste?

MC: I'm am Celeste and Bruce Daniels is Bam Bam. They are mystic gay kids traveling across the country in the most awkward and embarrassing way. So it's fun! It's a really sweet comedy. I think it's going to be great! I wrote it myself, and I wrote it about my life and what would have happened if I wouldn't have done anything that I do now.

EG: What are your days like these days?

MC: Right now I'm consumed with this film. I'm producer also, and that's a big job of going in and being a part of all the presentation and being very, very involved in the film process.

EG: When you come to Chicago, where do you usually hang out?

MC: I don't really go out anywhere because the way that I travel is so intense and fast ... in a city for a day and then gone. So I don't really know very much about Chicago. Bruce Daniels is from there, so obviously we spend more time there than anywhere else.

EG: When you think of Chicago what's the first thing that pops in your head?

MC: Pizza! I love eating there, and the really kind and generous people.

EG: What is your favorite Bushism you like to talk about.

MC: This whole thing about George Bush not giving enough money to tsunami victims so he upped the donations and sent Jeb Bush with Colin Powell to organize the whole rescue missions, which is so weird, that's like sending Danni Minogue like second best, not that Danni Minogue is second best but some people might think so.

Margaret Cho performs at The Chicago Theatre on March 11, 2005 for tickets or more info on Margaret visit her website at www.margaretcho.com


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