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15 Questions with Margaret Cho


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You are beautiful.
In some way, Margaret Cho believes it to be true, regardless of your size or skin tone.
She says it with a conviction that’s believable, and has dedicated her latest tour to the topic. Beauty is within all of us—and viewable by all of us if you know where to look. Talking on the phone from home near Glendale, Calif., Cho, one of the most recognizable female comedians on the planet, explains why beauty is a key factor of this tour; dives into Mike Huckabee’s band; confesses her addiction to reality TV; and reveals how she would change the TSA…

French Davis: How did the idea for your new tour germinate?
Margaret Cho: Well, the story is that I was on a radio interview and the DJ asked me what I would do if I woke up one morning and I was “beautiful.” And then he said, “You know, if you were blonde with blue eyes and 5’11”.” I said, “Well, I probably wouldn’t do anything, I’d be too weak to stand.” What a horrible thing to say. So I got to thinking about beauty and what it is and the show sprang from there. There’s a lot more material as well—I talk about politics and the world and Britney Spears and Larry Craig (the Idaho Senator busted for lewd conduct in the Twin Cities’ airport last year).

FD: Who is the most “beautiful” person you know?
MC: I think everyone is beautiful—I’m learning to appreciate different kinds of beauty. I really do think everyone has a different thing that makes them beautiful. I think so-called “models” tend to be a little less beautiful. Their beauty is so calculated. I like the free-stylers more.

FD: If you could change the Wikipedia entry on one famous person to anything you want, what would it be?
MC: I think I would like to change Mike Huckabee’s entry and make it all about his band. What are they called, oh yeah, the Capitol Offense? Like, the whole thing would just be a big band page and talk about all the music he does and his fans could go there and rock out. (Editor’s note: Wikipedia has a page dedicated to Capitol Offense already.)

FD: You once said England is where white people begin the whitening process. Where should they go to reverse it?
MC: They should probably come to L.A. or New York, but not the city… more to the suburbs, like Brooklyn or Inglewood, where it’s really fun and exciting.

FD: You get placed in charge of the TSA. What’s your first act?
MC: I would let people keep their shoes on… it’s just f**king stupid. The guy with the “shoe bomb” wasn’t even a terrorist. I understand there has to be a level of safety, but it’s overboard with the liquids and gels. It’s just those in control making sure they can control us.

FD: Have you thought about doing another sitcom (“All American Girl” had an 18-episode run in 1994 on ABC) or any other kind of television show—maybe something with a talk format?
MC: It’s possible. I’ve just been really busy. In the last couple years, I’ve been on the road and moving so much. I did the True Colors tour in the last year, and then the off-Broadway stuff before that, and this tour now. It’s always possible, but not right now.

FD: Which comedians does Margaret Cho enjoy?
MC: I love a lot of people, Mo’nique, Wanda Sykes, David Cross, Dave Chappelle.

FD: You know, I always thought Dave Chappelle was brilliant. He really picked up where Robert Townsend left off. Cutting-edge stuff. Hated to see him stop.
MC: I understand completely where he was coming from. I totally get it, when you’re doing work that touches on serious issues like race, your work can be appropriated in a way that doesn’t fit what you intended. And when you’re talking about being a minority, people are really questioning where you are and what you want to be.

FD: What’s on your iPod right now?
MC: A lot of Broken Social Scene. Some Ryan Adams. A lot of Cat Power. A bunch of different kinds of things.

FD: What was the point in your career where you looked around and thought, “I’ve made it?”
MC: I haven’t even gotten there—I don’t think I’ve made it at all. I’m doing OK, but I’ve never felt satisfied…my career achievements may be a little different (than other people’s). Can I make this work, make it funny—can I sing a song, those are the landmarks. One day I will play Imelda Marcos in the historical biopic. It would be genius. Alan Parker or Oliver Stone would direct. Marcos was remarkable. I kinda look like her, and the shoes, she’s really loved and hated in that country—very infamous.

FD: Who plays you in the Margaret Cho biopic?
MC: I hope it would be Sandra Oh.

FD: What are your favorite shows on TV right now?
MC: I love “The Shield.” That’s my hood in L.A. Glendale area. Love “Gray’s Anatomy.” “Flavor of Love”—cannot get enough of that. “Celebrity Rehab” is so awesome. I think Dr. Drew’s really helping these people.

FD: What about “Intervention?”
MC: I don’t like “Intervention” because it’s too painful, too focused on one person. With so many different people on “Celebrity Rehab,” the pain is so diffused. “Intervention” is so voyeuristic. I feel guilty, and I want to help them and I don’t think watching them is helping. With celebrities it’s not as heart wrenching, I guess.

FD: What does Margaret Cho’s heaven look like?
MC: All dogs. All dogs. A whole bunch of dogs all over the place.

FD: What about her hell?
MC: No dogs allowed.

Margaret Cho, 8 p.m., May 3 at Paramount Theatre, Denver.

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