Margaret Cho – #30Voices30Days

by | Jun 3, 2024

Few have paved the way like five-time Grammy and Emmy nominee, comedian Margaret Cho. An entrepreneur, actor, musician, and activist, Cho has brought social consciousness not only to Asian-Americans, women, and the LGBTQA+ community but to the broader human experience. Born and raised in San Francisco, Cho grew up in a vibrant cultural melting pot. As she famously says, “There were old hippies, ex-druggies, burnouts, drag queens, and Chinese people.” This eclectic upbringing profoundly shaped the artist she is today.

Cho’s comedy career began early when she won a contest to open for Jerry Seinfeld in the early ’90s, launching a lifelong career in stand-up at just 14. From San Francisco to Los Angeles, Cho gained prominence in her twenties, performing over 300 shows in two years on the college circuit. There was no turning back as Cho continued to make a name for herself with her groundbreaking show, All-American Girl, in 1994. This was followed by her one-woman hit show, I’m The One That I Want, and a 37-city national tour, Notorious C.H.O., in 2001. Over the next two decades, Cho’s impact on the industry spanned television, movies, and stand-up, earning her recognition as one of the greatest comedians of our time.

In 2017, Rolling Stone magazine named her one of the 50 Best Stand-Up Comics, calling her “the sort of funny, sex-positive feminist and LGBT activist younger comics continue to look up to.” And we couldn’t agree more.

For Gurus Magazine’s #30Voices30Days campaign, Margaret Cho sits down with Editor-in Chief, Derek Warbuton to share her insights on her lasting impact on the LGBTQA+ community. A testament to resilience, creativity, and the power of authentic self-expression.

Who is the true Margaret Cho? 

I am a really good custodian. I’m a really good carer. I’m a really good enabler, ally to myself, and I think my biggest fan. It’s so important to be the head of your own fan club. It’s absolutely essential. I think people hear me as a gay elder. I think people hear me as a crone, which I love. I’m like a really important crone era, you know, I just turned 55. And it’s really giving AARP, it’s giving citizens’ discount. I love that special status it gives. People are so afraid of aging and I find it a really fantastic experience so I’m quite proud of my age and of surviving.

What is your passion? 

My greatest passion is laughter. I love to laugh. I love to make others laugh. I love to see what laughter can do in a situation where you’re in a lot of pain. I love the power of laughter because it’s really hopeful. If you can find the joke or find the funny in any situation, it means you’re going to survive it and it’s really about finding the hope you’re going through. So laughter all the way, it brings healing to really let it go and laugh. Let it go and find a solution through laughing, finding the humor in it by finding what the lesson might be. I think pain is always just lessons. It’s always something to be learned all the time. And the older I get, the more that is reinforced. It’s just like, oh, this whole thing called life is just school, and you’re just handed lessons every day. And that’s sort of what pain is about. Pain is a great teacher.

When do you feel the most authentic? 

I feel my most authentic when I’m performing, when I’m writing, composing music, when I’m actually singing with my band, recording, when I’m actually engaged in my creative endeavors. Also, when I’m taking care of my animals or taking care of my garden, you know. I’m actively tending to life in all of its aspects in my life that to me is a feeling of really being one with myself.

Laughter and authenticity are key to navigating difficult situations. I like to emphasize the importance of embracing one’s identity and using humor to find the humor in any situation. The transformative power of laughter and authenticity with a focus on the importance of being true to oneself and expressing one’s authentic voice in various aspects of life.

Why is your voice so important to be heard? 

My voice is so important to be heard because it’s a voice often silenced. You know, we often silenced voices of women, we silenced voices of queer people, we silenced voices of ethnic minorities of Asian Americans, we silenced voices of anybody who’s sort of in that sort of intersectional camp. Often we don’t voice our opinions because we’re so used to being hurt. The most important thing is to speak up and share how things feel, to put your messages out there, to put your voice out there. Whether that is in your artistic work, in your creation or just in life.

Despite her immense success, Margaret Cho remains dedicated to the causes close to her heart. Chiefly, she actively supports anti-racism, anti-bullying, and gay rights campaigns, demonstrating her unwavering commitment to social justice.

Significantly, her accolades reflect this dedication: the Victory Fund’s Leadership Award, the first-ever Best Comedy Performance Award at the Asian Excellence Awards, the First Amendment Award from the ACLU of Southern California, and the Intrepid Award from the National Organization for Women (NOW). She has been honored by GLAAD, American Women in Radio and Television, the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF), the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), PFLAG, and LA Pride, which bestowed upon her a Lifetime Achievement Award for her enduring impact on the LGBTQA+ community.

Margaret Cho’s story is a testament to resilience, creativity, and the power of authentic self-expression.

As she shares her insights with Gurus Magazine’s #30Voices30Days campaign for Pride Month, her legacy continues to inspire and empower future generations.

Watch the full interview here:

For more on Margaret Cho, visit https://margaretcho.com/

Photo Credits: Nick Spanos

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