Margaret Cho is unfiltered and telling it like it is

Margaret Cho
Margaret Cho

Two films, a documentary, and a podcast series show how this star stays busy

Margaret Cho and one of her dogs
Margaret Cho and one of her dogs

The Covid–19 pandemic has crushed many, but Margaret Cho has managed to stay at the top of her game. With two new films, a documentary, and the second season of her podcast series under her belt, from politics to social issues, Margaret holds nothing back!

What did you do over the past year to get through the Covid–19 Pandemic? Did you take up any new hobbies or learn anything new? 

Margaret Cho: I got a bunch of animals so I have two cats and a dog now who are a major part of my life. My pets have helped me a lot through this as well as engaging more on social media. Podcasting, of course, has been very important. I learned how to make Thai food, which is so not my nature, but I became a very serious chef in the kitchen. It is empowering, although, at this point I’ve sort of grown tired of it.

Margaret Cho photo by Sergio Garcia
Margaret Cho photo by Sergio Garcia

I love eating and during the pandemic, there were not many options: I could not go out to eat and I really do not enjoy take out because it never tastes quite as good as when eating at the restaurant. I missed dining out most because that is what I would do all the time.

What was the most positive thing that came out of the last year for you? 

MC: Being able to work with the Biden-Harris campaign was truly amazing. I was so worried about the election and having the opportunity to partake in many virtual events was inspiring. I was also able to channel my anxiety into action, which I feel is important for us to do and probably the biggest lesson I learned.

Would you like to continue working with the Biden-Harris administration?

MC: I would love to continue working with the administration. I think they are doing great. I still find it to be incredible that we have a woman as our Vice President that is biracial, feminist, and here to represent a variety of minority groups. I am so happy and grateful to her.

Standup comedy has long been a male-dominated industry. You are one of the select females who have risen to stardom and found great success within standup. This is addressed throughout the FX documentary Hysterical. What was it like to be a part of that? 

MC: It was great. Of course, everyone in the documentary I am friends with and adore, such as Judy Gold. If you are a woman in comedy, you have to be exponentially better to get your foot in the door and to get noticed in any way. We battle so much sexism, which is both very outright as well as very covert. I have had an amazing journey and was so excited to be a part of the documentary, which I love.

What was it like voicing Auntie Ling and working with such a strong cast in the animated film Over the Moon, which was nominated for a Golden Globe and an Oscar?

MC: It was a great cast and a great project. I was in Shanghai in 2018 when they were starting to discuss what the film was going to be. I was shown the sketches and listened to the song demos. It was an incredible experience, and to have been aligned with the project from the beginning and seeing the success it would achieve was very gratifying. To be nominated for an Oscar is as good as it gets!

Season 2 of your podcast series, The Margaret Cho, is titled the Mortal Minority, seemingly a pun at the phrase “the model minority.” Did the Stop Asian Hate movement inspire you to address racism and racial stereotypes this season? 

Margaret Cho photo by Sergio Garcia
Margaret Cho photo by Sergio Garcia

MC: Mortal Minority is all about Asian Americans talking about Asian American crimes, both those committed against them as well as those perpetrated by them, in a historical and modern context alike. It is this idea of where we have experienced violence within our own community.

The concept was a part of season one. However, with everything taking place today, I felt it appropriate to make it the focus of season two. Every day, whenever I look at social media, there are four to five new hate crime incidents against Asian Americans. I wanted to give a signal boost to different GoFundMe fundraisers for victims as well as different activists who are trying to #StopAsianHate. I am really pleased with the way it is coming out. There is a lot of history which I had no idea about. We really have so little knowledge about these subjects.

Is there a particular guest or subject matter this season that you are most excited about?

MC: All of them, really. Of the episodes which have been released so far, the Chinese Massacre of 1871 and the Rock Springs Massacre of 1885. These were hugely destructive and deadly events, yet we never hear about any of them. Just as we previously did not hear about many events within Black history, we presently have those same blind spots with Asian history.

What do you feel needs to be done today?

MC: There needs to be an acknowledgment that these recent incidents taking place are hate crimes. For example, six of the eight victims killed in the Atlanta spa attack were Asian. If you are targeting people of a certain race, it is a hate crime. For some reason, Asian Americans suffer from this invisibility which lends itself to not being considered victims of racism. It is really sickening and reminds me of the HIV/AIDs epidemic when people used homophobia as an excuse to commit hate crimes against gay men. It does not make any sense.

Your new movie, Good on Paper, premieres on Netflix on June 23rd. Can you tell us about the movie and your character?

Margaret Cho photo by Sergio Garcia
Margaret Cho photo by Sergio Garcia

MC: I play a lesbian in bike shorts. It is a really fun role. Iliza Shlesinger, who is also hysterical, wrote the film and stars in it. We had a great time and filmed it right before the shutdown. Looking back, it feels like a different world we were shooting in, having no notion of what would happen immediately thereafter. I loved playing this queer character who is very true to life and kind of true to who I am.

What are your plans for Pride this year?

MC: I have been really missing Pride and it is so weird that in some areas, this is the second Pride where some of us are locked down. I just received my second dose of the Moderna vaccine, so hopefully, we can actually go out and celebrate. Maybe the old gays can do something virtually with the younger gays. At minimum, I definitely plan on connecting with everyone virtually.