The Cho must go on: Margaret Cho’s psyCHO tour

chotayMargaretCho-054Margaret 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 wellIt’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.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

The end of an era: No one impacted politics in a more positive way than Jon Stewart

The last eight months have felt like a body blow to political comedy.

First, Stephen Colbert stepped away from The Colbert Report, his mock Fox News rant, to be replaced by Larry Wilmore’s Nightly Show. Larry tries hard (usually too hard), but the withering irony isn’t there.

Colbert will be back in September, replacing David Letterman, who stepped down in May from CBS’ The Late Show. For a generation that includes me, Letterman really defined the concept of the late-night comedy talkfest. Of course, it will be nice to see Colbert again, but the loss of Letterman — who hosted a late night show longer than anyone in history, including Johnny Carson — is difficult to calculate.

JStAnd then there’s Jon Stewart. For nearly 17 years, he has —  more than Colbert and Letterman — defined political commentary through the lens of the humorist. Where Colbert skewered right wing faux news shows, Stuart skewered mainstream media and the laziness with which so much of it is practiced today: the celebrity culture, the softball questions masquerading as journalism, the uninformed opinions. Stewart’s reign on The Daily Show ends tonight, of course, and it, like The Late Show, will return in the fall with a new host. But nothing will ever be the same.

True, in recent years, Stewart felt more tired and robotic in his jokes. But ever since his announcement in February that he would be leaving the show, he’s been on a roll. No one has worn his righteous indignation with more intelligent affability. And perhaps no one save Lorne Michaels has launched more television comedy careers. Even within the confines of a 22-minute, three-act talk show format, Stewart raise the game of discussing important things in an accessible and often sadly hilarious way. Few public figures have been at the forefront of gay rights issues like Stewart has been. If you’ve never watched the show, you may be inclined to think he hasn’t had that much of an impact. You would be wrong.

Tonight, when his final episode airs, the end of an era will take place. I’ll be there watching. So let’s raise a glass to Jon Stewart… and one to the health of John Oliver — he’s the future now.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Stephen Colbert: ‘An historic day for gay people of all stripes’

Screen shot 2015-06-29 at 11.35.07 AM

Here’s Stephen Colbert’s take on the marriage equality ruling:

—  Tammye Nash

WATCH: Colbert’s raciest segment yet

Screen shot 2014-01-14 at 2.00.54 PMMost of last night’s episode of The Colbert Report is pretty much just as good (and funny) as any other, but one bit stuck out for me. In the segment below, Colbert talks about product placement, and how ads can be digitally inserted into reruns. Then he gives his audience an idea about how it could be done on his show. The bit is clever, but it’s really at the end, starting around 3:26 on the count clock, that it becomes one of the raciest sketches he’s ever done. Enjoy after the jump!

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

WATCH: A funny — and moving — segment from ‘The Colbert Report’

Vicco mayorAnyone who watches The Colbert Report knows that Stephen Colbert’s shtick is pretending to be a reactionary right wing nutcase (a la Bill O’Reilly) while ironically promoting his own liberal politics. He’s done plenty of segments “attacking” the death of DOMA, or “advocating” DADT. But I can’t think of a segment on his show that has been as informative, funny and touching as this one about a gay mayor in small-town Kentucky that aired last night.

Watch until the very end. I bet you’ll be as choked up as I was.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Rocca ages

WAIT, WAIT! DON’T TELL ME! | That nerdy comedian is Mo Rocca!

Need salt? Don’t ask Mo Rocca — but as the Texas vet gets older, he keeps getting better

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer

You know that man on CBS Sunday Morning who’s really funny and kind of nerdy? That panelist with the nasally voice on NPR’s Wait, Wait! Don’t Tell Me quiz show. The guy you can’t quite describe other than from the kinda geeky-gay vibe he puts out, but in the nicest way. That’s Mo Rocca.

He’s the face you might recognize but not be sure where from. Rocca is everywhere, whether he’s reporting newsy features for CBS in his special snarky way or adding to the fun on Wait, Wait (or maybe you recall him from the heyday of The Daily Show when he, Stephen Colbert and Steve Carell dominated the reports). Now he’s added to his resume as the host for Cooking Channel’s Food(ography) — perhaps the last show he thought he’d be on.

“I was approached to host this and seemed like an odd fit,” he says. “My only experience with cooking food at all is none. I don’t even have salt in my apartment. My kitchen is totally virgin territory. But I needed the work!”

What he didn’t want was to look a fool on camera — although he admits knowing nothing about cooking, he didn’t want to be put in the position of looking like he knew nothing. Instead, the show allows Rocca to use both his comic and journalistic talents to tell the stories of food and its history and how it becomes something else altogether.

“Food has become more the portal into discussing food and history and life. Getting through to people through the stomach because hopefully we all sit down to eat. This is my long way of saying I like talking about history and I get to do it through food.”

He’d dare to call it the best show he’s worked for … this coming from the guy with no salt.

“I went in for a paycheck and have fallen in love with it.”

Rocca juggles that gig using his shtick on the as-fun radio show Wait, Wait! Don’t Tell Me, which covers current topics with a rotating panel of guests (including fellow queermedian Paula Poundstone) as they test their knowledge with hilarious results.

“Oh, it’s both fun and easy,” he says. “I didn’t know the show because I don’t listen to radio, but I’m able to be funny because I don’t have to create the stuff. It’s there already.”

Which means less work for the clever comedian. With his wit, funny would seem to come as second nature. Instead, Rocca makes it sound oh-so-painful.

“Making something funny is hard work,” he says with breathy emphasis on the hard work. “If I do a piece for CBS Sunday Morning, it’s like crapping out a pineapple. It is so hard to get that thing out.  I think President Reagan used that term first.”

With NPR being in such hot water these days, Rocca didn’t pull out the whole pledge plea. He thinks NPR could actually go in a different direction with funding.

“I do feel badly about [the scrutiny] and it is tricky,” he says. “This is a great product, but if it’s so great then why do we need taxpayer money? I am reluctant to say that, but the reality of it is, it sure would be a whole lot more convenient. But if we didn’t have NPR, the void would be filled by more opinion. And that’s just what we need!”

He jests of course.

Rocca will appear in North Texas Monday as part of the Dallas Museum of Art’s Arts and Letters Live series, but he’s no stranger to the area. His first job in television was here, writing and producing for the children’s show Wishbone. The gig was great, but he does have his regrets.

“I used to live in Plano,” he says. “It was such a mistake. I thought I needed to live near work and the studio was in Plano. You know, plano means flat in Spanish, and it was and there were all these McMansions… ugh.”

If only Rocca had gotten the show he really hoped for when he got there.

“Yeah, I didn’t get the gig at co-hosting Plano Tonight.”

He jests again — but who would put that past Plano?

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 18, 2011.

—  John Wright

Grammys Live Blog: Gaga and Elton open with a hot mess

I’ll be with you tonight live-blogging the Grammys for the evening. I hope we can have a good musical night together.


Lady Gaga opens the show with some “Poker Face” then burns herself alive to team up with Elton John. Much like his team-up with Eminem way back then, Elton latches onto the music’s It-Girl to give his own career a boost. Otherwise, I’m not really getting it. The “Speechless” and “Your Song” live mash-up was more mess-up.

Nicole Kidman is looking great!

I didn’t even know Stephen Colbert was hosting. I expect snarky greatness.

Song of the Year (already??) “Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)”

J.Lo. I’m not quite getting the 2008 raccoon eyes and aluminum foil mini-skirt/formal. Honey, no. Clearly they are getting those mounting comebacks out of the way. And her announcement of Green Day’s American Idiot just sent Taboo shivers down my spine.

By the way, some awards have already been given out tonight. Swift and Gaga already have their trophies. Check them out for mobileпродвижение сайта для турфирмы

—  Rich Lopez