Presenting the best of arts and entertainment in the Chicago area.
Saturday, October 9, 2010
Margaret Cho blends music with comedy on new tour
By ERIC SCHELKOPF
Comedian, dancer and musician Margaret Cho has already dusted herself off and is ready for her next project after getting eliminated from "Dancing with the Stars" this week.
Cho will perform Oct. 16 at The Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State St., Chicago, as part of her nationwide Cho Dependent tour. The show starts at 8 p.m., and tickets range in price from $39.21 to $76.66, available through www.ticketmaster.com.
I had the chance to do an e-mail interview with Cho and got caught up on all her recent activities, including the release of her first album.
Q - You were eliminated from "Dancing with the Stars" this week. Do you think the judges were too hard on you? What made you want to do the show in the first place?
I love dancing, and so I wanted to do the show. It's so glitzy and glamorous and I had an amazing time. The judges were hard on me because they could see that I was a good dancer and they commented on this fact every time I danced. I respected all of their opinions very much and had the time of my life on the dance floor.
Q - Any advice for the remaining contestants? Given your disdain for Sarah Palin, did you have any awkward encounters with Bristol Palin?
Bristol was really supportive and awesome and we were good friends for the entire run. I would tell all the other contestants to dance like no one is watching - even though many millions of people are watching.
Q - You and your dance partner chose the theme of gay pride in dancing the samba the other night. Do you think the judges understood what you were trying to do?
I think the judges understood it, and I think that this was a fantastic dance routine with a wonderful message. It was the best thing ever.
Q - Tyler Clementi killed himself after his classmates outed him. What can be done to stop bullying?
I think that talking about what happened, breaking the silence, talking about the problems lgbt youth face every day. 90% of gay and lesbian teens are bullied and this needs to be talked about in order to stop it from happening any more.
Q - You have said you were bullied growing up. How did you deal with it? Do you think bullying is worse these days?
I dealt with it by growing up faster than I would have - which isn't a bad thing, although I missed out on a lot of my childhood because I was trying to get away from people who were tormenting me. I would say bullying is worse today in that there is so much social networking - a whole new arena where attacks can happen.
Q - You have always been open about your sexuality, and your battles with alcohol and drugs. What do you think your experiences can teach people?
I hope to help people deal with their darkness and their truth and not feel alone in their battles. To be able to deal with problems with humor has a grace that goes beyond anything else.
Q- After your experience on "All-American Girl," what made you want to do "Drop Dead Diva?'' What do you like about your role on the show?
I love "Drop Dead Diva" because of the message - love yourself and accept yourself - which is the best thing to say. And it's a great role - hilarious and wonderfully written.
Q - When did you first discover you could sing? What was the impetus in making "Cho Dependent?" Do you see yourself making more albums?
I do want to make more albums. Cyndi Lauper told me I could sing when we went on the "True Colors" tour - and I believed her. I wanted to make an album that was comedy songs but with truly beautiful inspired melodies. i am very proud of my accomplishment.
Q - You collaborate with an eclectic group of artists on the album. How did you go about choosing the artists on the album?
Some people i knew well, like Jon Brion and Grant Lee Phillips. Others I got to know in the process, like Andrew Bird and Rachael Yamagata. Everyone was brilliant.
Q - I understand you try to address the issue of domestic abuse in the song "I'm Sorry." Explain the background behind the song.
My first crush was with one of the writers of "All American Girl." He didn't like me back at all, and it was heartbreaking, yet I never let go of loving him.
Many years later, after holding him as an ideal person in my heart, I had learned that he very gruesomely murdered his wife. It was so horrible I didn't know how to deal with it except approach the topic using dark humor.
It's a beautiful song, but it also breaks my heart when I sing it, but sometimes the only way to understand the darkness of life is to write about it in the only way you know how.
Q - You have said that you admire Madonna's guitar shredding. What do you think of your own guitar playing?
I am a good player - which amazes me still. I am a folky acoustic musician - not like Madonna who plays electric so great!
Q - With the album, are you trying to bring back musical comedy? Which is harder, being on stage doing stand-up comedy, or being a musician on stage?
I love musical comedy - but I still think stand-up comedy is harder, although there is also the physical skill of playing and singing that you have to master - but stand-up is the hardest.
Q - Will you be singing on the tour as well? Will any of the musicians on the album
show up as guests on the tour?
I will sing a little on the tour - but it's still a stand up comedy show. I feel that is who I am - who I will always be. Some different artists will come and play - Garrison Starr has joined me on several dates, and Ben Lee and Grant Lee Phillips will also come and play too.
Q - Are you offended that Mel Gibson hasn't said anything bad about Asian people?
Yeah we are totally left out by him.
Q - Do you think that you helped open the door for other female comedians, like Chelsea Handler? Why do you think there aren't more Asian comedians? What is the
state of stand-up comedy these days?
I love Chelsea - and I hope that I have helped all female and Asian comics get a break in comedy. I love that I still get to do it and that I am having fun doing it. Stand-up comedy is enjoying a real renaissance - It's everywhere!
Q - What projects are you looking forward to doing next? Do you have any dream
I am looking forward to another season of "Drop Dead Diva" as well as recording my next album!