“Comedy is the language of the oppressed,” said comedian Margaret Cho on the telephone last week. “It’s an outsider art. It’s about surviving in the face of discrimination.”
Cho, who plays the Moore Theatre Saturday, was talking about why there are more left-wing comics than right-wing ones. Being a multicultural, bisexual, heavily tattooed female comic, she probably knows what she’s talking about.
Cho is fiercely outspoken and unflinching when it comes to discussing taboo subjects in her stand-up routine — even if that means airing all her own complicated personal issues.
The Emmy-and Grammy-nominated comic whose TV sitcom “All-American Girl” was a cult favorite and whose anti-bullying Rainbow Dancing Dress caused a sensation on “Dancing with the Stars,” said she was willing to be completely unfiltered and honest.
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“You have to have a level of comfort to discuss things that are personal,” Cho said. “Should there be a filter? Yes, but there isn’t.”
“Mother,” her current show, gives Cho an outlet to voice her thoughts on sex, queer politics, drugs, guns, identity and madness. Though Cho’s been fearless in her professional career, she admits the one thing that scares her the most in her private life is being a mother.
“I think I would be all right, I think I would be cautious,” Cho said, “but it’s scary to love somebody that much.”
What about her own mother, the butt of so many of Cho’s jokes?
“She’s very appreciative,” Cho responded. “Women in Asian cultures become more invisible as they get older and this is a nice way to keep her in the spotlight.”
Cho grew up in San Francisco in a diverse neighborhood populated with drag queens and was the only American-born member of a Korean immigrant family. All of those experiences provide fodder and context for her material.
Though she’s married to a man, Cho identifies as bisexual and has said her politics are more queer than her lifestyle. She’s also been outspoken in her support of same-sex marriage, which she said is the symbol of equality.
Even though same-sex marriage and marijuana are legal in Washington state, Cho said she doesn’t worry about preaching to the choir: “People like to hear a voice outside their own.”
Though Cho lists male comedians Louis CK and Marc Maron as respected contemporaries, she wishes there were more women in the business.
“[Comedy] doesn’t nurture women in the same way [as men],” Cho said. “It’s kind of a hard thing to do, but there are newer people Like Tig [Notaro], Wanda [Sykes] and Chelsea [Handler] who are awesome.”
Jeff Albertson: 206-464-2304 or firstname.lastname@example.org