Margaret Cho was a comedian even before she knew it.
“As a kid, I was thinking all these things,” Cho, 46, recalls, expounding on her surprising childhood shyness, “and when I would say them, people would laugh. I was really confused by that.”
It makes sense now, of course. Cho, after all, has turned life’s ugly truths — from political injustices to homophobia and the gory details of her colonoscopy — into 20 years of comedy gold.
Luckily, for Cho, the world is still insane. Everything happens right in front of us, in real time, and we can’t turn away. And Cho, naturally, has something to say about that. You know, along with gun control, beheadings, the Amy Schumer movie shooting, rape, female comedian sexism and the “systematic slaughter of African Americans.”
Yes, Cho is still fearless. Yes, she is still notorious. She brought her psyCHO Tour performance to North Texas this past summer, but has recently announced her fall dates as well. And she’s still tearing down the world’s wrongdoers in the fiercest and funniest of ways.
Dallas Voice: The first time I interviewed you was while I was in college. And the world, it seemed, was less fucked up then. Margaret Cho: It’s still being fucked up. Like, I think it was always this fucked up and we didn’t know about it because we didn’t have Facebook and Twitter to alarm us every single day. I remember when you really had to look for beheading videos. You couldn’t just start playing them.
How do you — and how should we — deal with the accessibility of… everything? I understand that there are a lot of things that need our attention, and I think maybe pick your battles. Which causes do you really want to look at and think about? I just wanna get over police brutality. That, to me, is the most pressing issue, so my thing is dashboard cam. I’m so dashboard cam/body cam; that’s what I watch for hours on end.
Your upcoming show will assess some of the serious issues we’re facing today. How do you balance comedy and sociopolitical issues? You have to find a truth there. For me, comedy or humor is often a coping mechanism. A lot of what I’m talking about is police brutality and the different sides of it that I’ve encountered and what I see happening in the media. As a comedian, it’s a kind of alchemy that’s really the magic, you know. Something so tragic and terrible as this systematic slaughter of African Americans in this country — how do you find some way to talk about that that isn’t totally depressing?
How do you? And moreover, how do you turn it into comedy? It’s funny, because whenever white and black people fight, Asians and Mexicans don’t know what to do. ’Cause we’re like, “Are we white? Or are we black? We just wanna pick the winning side.” For me the joke here is the gradations of how we view racism. Everybody’s a human being, so it’s very hard to figure out how to talk about it, so that’s my take on it. And I have a lot of different things that I’m talking about in the show: gun control, and also different kinds of police brutality that I’ve witnessed.
Another comedian, Amy Schumer, whose movie was playing when a gunman opened fire in a Louisiana theater, is taking on gun control as well. It’s great.
How do you think comedy can create sociopolitical change? Comedy now is a major player in politics. A lot of people are responsible for this, but the main ones are Jon Stewart, Bill Maher, Hannibal Buress and Stephen Colbert — now Amy Schumer. These are people who are actually changing the way we feel about politics, about who is gonna be president, about race. Comedy can really shift the way we view everything.