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Cho's show

Last modified: 8/30/2012 12:00:00 AM
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Outspoken and outrageous, comedian-activist Margaret Cho will perform at the Capitol Center for the Arts in Concord for the first time Sept. 30. Her ''Mother'' tour started this month and will continue throughout the country and in the U.K.

In a phone interview, Cho said that the ''best part is now. In the beginning (of the tour), you can do anything. anything. . . . (It's) always in motion, always in progress.''

Unlike a play in which the lines are fixed, her act is constantly evolving.

She's keeping busy offstage, too. Cho has been shooting for an internet-based reality show, In Transition, and recently hosted ''Keep the Promise,'' a rally urging the U.S. to uphold the President's Emergency Program for AIDS Relief.

Cho's TV career is flourishing; she plays Teri Lee, the legal assistant to Jane Bingum, the attorney and main character of Drop-Dead Diva on Lifetime.

The show is now in its fourth season, and Cho says that it has been a great experience. She was the first one cast. She loves ''the way the show has grown.''

Cho has also guest starred on 30 Rock as Kim Jong Il - a role for which she was nominated an Emmy - and Kim Jong Un.

First generation

The child of immigrant parents from Korea, Cho is the first in her family to be born in the United States.

She took to stand-up in high school and has been performing ever since.

Her mother, Young Hie Cho, has been a popular part of her act over the years, and she maintains an important role in the current tour.

Asked whether her mother had seen her current show, Cho replied in an email: ''She has seen parts of it, but the show is . . . constantly being updated. . . . she loves coming to the shows even if she doesn't understand all the dirty sex stuff I usually talk about.''

In 1994, Cho starred in All-American Girl, the first U.S. sitcom about an Asian-American family. Everyone cast as a member of that family was Asian-American, and yet the network constantly worried whether the show and its characters were authentic enough.

The show was cancelled after one season.

Writing and prejudice

The author of two books and seven shows, as well as a prolific blogger, Cho said that writing is very important to her.

Blogging didn't reach the mainstream zenith until the mid-2000s, but Cho has been blogging since 2003. Most of the content of 2005's I Have Chosen to Stay and Fight, was taken from blog posts.

She frequently posts her thoughts online, where people can and do comment. They are not always kind.

But Cho is no stranger to the unkind. Her work is peppered with the experiences of her childhood in which she was often bullied and hated. She has struggled with popular notions of weight and beauty standards. Racism and prejudice - to her often vocalized dismay - continue to reappear.

Asked if it is hard for female comedians in today's society, Cho said there is a social prejudice against them, but ''also a great need for them.''

She said that male comedians tend to have a bigger community, a larger, more established network of support. Not so with their female counterparts. However, she says, female comedians are more popular than men.

A longtime activist for gay rights, Cho won a G.L.A.A.D Golden Gate award in 2000 and a Liberty Lamda Award in 2001. She performed in Sweden on Aug. 2 at Stockholm Pride, and next month will be the guest celebrity at the North Louisiana Gay & Lesbian Film Festival.

Her opinions provoked a protest in June from the notorious Westboro Baptist Church when she performed in St. Louis. In her blog, she wrote about the children she saw partaking in the protest:

''I see these poor children, holding up signs with odd slurs and even odder spelling and I think - how terrible - these full grown bullies are forcing their children into a life of hatred and homophobia and poor syntax.''

Cho was asked to describe herself to those not familiar with her work.

Her response? ''Uplifting, surprising, funny and spiritually comforting.'''


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