Margaret Cho Returns to the Valley

Echo talks comedy, career and coping with veteran comedienne

Margaret Cho. Photo by Todd V. Wolfson.

By Megan Wadding, Oct. 9, 2014.

Just over a month after attending the funeral services for Joan Rivers in New York, Margaret Cho is discussing the comedic legend at part of her act.

“Joan Rivers put the ‘fun’ in funeral,” the bold, bisexual comedienne wrote on her blog last month – a perfect segue into what attendees might see from Cho’s Oct. 10 and 11 shows at Stand Up Live in Phoenix.

In an interview with Echo, Cho spoke about her tour, her current projects and learning to cope with the immense loss of her friend Joan Rivers.

Echo: What is your schedule like these days? You seem to always be on tour!

Cho: I tour all the time. I like to maintain the touring schedule. I try to be really active as a comedienne and on the go as much as I can.

Echo: Where do you draw your comedic inspiration? Who are some of your comedic idols? I know that you were close to Joan Rivers.

Cho: I loved Joan Rivers, more than anybody in comedy. She was my mentor and my role model. We worked together many, many times.  I’d see her a couple times a year. She was somebody that I’d go to if I have a problem or something that needed her advice. She was really there for me every time in very substantial and important ways. I don’t really know what exactly the world looks like without her yet. It’s the thing that I’m trying to figure out. I kind of don’t know what to do. It’s actually why I’m trying to work a couple shows a night. I’m trying to find some comfort in that, in comedy. That’s part of grief, figuring out what the world is after.

Of course also Robin Williams. I can’t even face that yet. We were together a bunch of times and also I grew up across the street from the theater, where he would come every day. He took care of so many people. He was a father figure and a role model and I think people took too much from him, and I think we didn’t know how to give back. How do you give something back to someone who has everything?

Echo: So many people, other comedians especially, seem to be so affected by these losses. How do you think comedy in general will be affected?

Cho: The sadness about that is so deep. What this is doing to everyone in comedy is rededicating them to the craft. I think there’s going to be another Renaissance because of this. Great pain and tragedy really does spur creativity. Which is really off, but historically, that seems to be true. It’s affected everybody and everybody is talking about it, and everybody is mourning. But it doesn’t mean that we can’t still grow and we can’t still laugh. It gets better.

Echo: Now that Drop Dead Diva has ended its run, what does the future hold for you in terms of acting?

Cho: I would love to do some more. I’m going to do some producing stuff. I’ve written some scripts. I’m really working to see what the next step is, but until then I’m focusing hard on stand-up comedy, which I love. It’s my life and so that’s a really exciting thing.

Echo: Is it true that you and Tina Fey are working on a sitcom together?  What’s the status of the show? What’s Tina like to work with? I know you’ve worked with her on 30 Rock in the past.

Cho: We finished [filming the show] and it was not picked up, which was so hard. We loved it. [Fey] is amazing. She is really, really cool and I loved working with her, and we will again. Unfortunately, this project did not go. It’s heartbreaking to us all. There are some exciting things coming down from this project, so we’ll see what happens.

Echo: Can you tell me a little about the book that you’re writing?

Cho: It will be a lot about comedy and depression and the way through and how we’re affected by this and how there is definitely a way out.  I feel like it’s going to be a comical self-help book. I think it’s a good insight, so that’s what I’m focusing on.

Echo: What are you talking about these days in your sets? Any topics you tend to bring up?

Cho: The show is a lot about bisexuality, which nobody ever really talks about, so it’s a major point for me. But right now I’m really working though [Rivers’] funeral and how it affects everybody. I talk about the things I’ve learned from her, about show business, and Elizabeth Taylor and the history of gay women and men. We just play and hang out and see where it goes.

Echo: Over the summer, Weird Al Yankovic released a parody video of Pharrell’s hit ‘Happy’, which Weird Al calls ‘Tacky’ and you’re featured pretty prominently in it. How did you get involved in that? Was it fun to do?

Cho: [Weird Al] is my friend and I love him. He’s my favorite guy. He is a great role model and a fantastic man. He asked me to do it and I was like absolutely. Aisha Tyler, (who is also in the video) I went to high school with. Everybody was laughing.

Echo: Something that a lot of people might not know about you is that you’ve were deputized to perform same-sex marriages by former San Francisco mayor, Gavin Newsom, back when same-sex marriage was reinstated in California. Have you done any marriage recently?

Cho: I still do it. I don’t have any scheduled right now, but I know that it’s coming and that we’ll do more and more in the future. I have the accreditation where I can do it everywhere, all over the world.


Margaret Cho
7:30 and 10 p.m. Oct. 10,
7 and 10 p.m. Oct. 11
Stand Up Live
50 W. Jefferson St., #200, Phoenix
Tickets: $30; 480-719-6100


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