Martin had a chat with comedy star Margaret Cho, nominated for four Grammy Awards, for her German film tour with comedy concert film CHO DEPENDENT, which had its German premiere at Filmfest homochrom in Cologne.
Martin: Margaret, next year you’ll be celebrating your 20th anniversary as a stand-up comedian. You are a fashion designer, author etc., and you are a huge gay icon in the U.S. How do you come to know gays and lesbians so well that you know how to hit the comical nail precisely?
CHO: I am part of the LGBT community as a lifelong frustrated bisexual woman. I grew up in San Francisco and spent much of the 80s and early 90s raising money to fight AIDS and homophobia, so I come to comedy with a very queer, very insider perspective!
Martin: How would you introduce yourself to our German readers who have never heard of you?
CHO: Guten Tag, Germany! I am a queer, loud, raunchy Asian-American woman with progressive political views and the best dirty jokes coming at you to make you feel real.
Martin: Your filmed show CHO DEPENDENT from 2011 will be the first one being screened in Germany. Why should German audiences come and see it at the queer film festivals in Cologne, Dortmund, Hamburg and Hannover?
CHO: I think that it will be amazing to bring my work to a completely different country – and from my brief time in Germany, I know that the gay scene is very cutting edge, artistic, political, queer – just my kind of folks!
Martin: You referred to yourself as a „fag hag“ and a „greedy“ (because pansexual) lover. What has changed since you married a straight man in 2003? Are you less on the prowl? I don’t have the impression that you’ve become more conventional or lost your sting–at least comical-wise.
CHO: Actually I think that it’s made me more of a vagabond, because I have a safety net in place. I believe in connection and relationship and family, but not monogamy!
Martin: Do the blunt, sexual jokes of yours come naturally, or do you sometimes sit down and ask yourself: which taboo could I break next?
CHO: I just try to use an economy of words to express a thought, and it isn’t about breaking taboos, although that ends up happening at times!
Martin: Which is your most favourite and/or outrageous joke or one-liner?
CHO: My favorite right now is about how in America people are asking me a lot about how young girls can now get a vaccine that would prevent HPV (genital warts) and my feeling is: „How should I know? My pussy is riddled with that shit. That is how they make the vaccine: They milk my pussy like a cobra!“
I think this joke is intense because it plays into peoples fears of STDs, and HPV is something that most everyone in America over a certain age has, even if it lies dormant. Not caring is politically irresponsible and gross, but to me that is kind of funny too.
Martin: What is your latest tour „MOTHER“ about? Your mother? You as a mother? Mothers in general?
CHO: It’s a lot of jokes about my mother, which has been popular in my act for years, as well as the rudest, crassest gay sex material ever – because i think that mothers are both sacred and profane. It’s all about Madonna, Lady Gaga, the mothers of gay culture.
Martin: You have appeared in internationally successful films (e.g. 1997 in „Face/Off“) and series („Sex and the City“, „The Nanny“ and now you’re Emmy nominated for „30 Rock“), but your recent tour again includes only one city outside of the USA, namely London. Is it by your choice or by audience that your carreer seem to be restricted to North America? Are you affraid there might be a cultural or language barrier to your humor?
CHO: I think that it is very comfortable for me to tour America and that has been what I’ve been doing for the last several years, but now I would like to branch out and perform internationally. There are some language and cultural barriers, but they are not insurmountable. I really want to be challenged and find more places to perform and get out in the world!
Martin: You are a senior to the Australian comedian Pam Ann, who I assume you are aware of. She is much more active in Europe and tours a lot through Germany, though her shows are completely in English like yours. Why is she touring much more globally than you? Is it because her characters are flight attendants?
CHO: I love Pam Ann. I think she is a wonderful comedian and also tours so extensively because she is universally loved. I would be so excited to get to that point. She has an international appeal and is a citizen of the world – I want to be exactly that! I admire her very much and she’s also great fun to hang out with!
Martin: What will you do next year for your anniversary? What can those of us who are Cho-dependent expect from you next year?
CHO: I will be working on my tour, hopefully going back for another season of drop-dead diva and maybe more „30 Rock“! I loved „30 Rock“ and being in drag! I have never played a man before, and I realize I need to do it more often.
Martin: Thank you, Margaret, and I look forward to having you as our guest in Cologne.
Trailer for comedy concert film CHO DEPENDENT: