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Photograph by Austin Young
IT'S ME, MARGARET: Cho performs at the Mountain Winery on September 12.

Loca Girl Makes Good

Margaret Cho invades the Mountain Winery summer series

By David Ma

The Bay Area's own Margaret Cho has traveled the world for over a decade, doing comedy that deals with race, gender, politics and self-image. She tackles stern topics, but has found an audience that supports her sometimes b rash, off-putting brand of humor. "I'm lucky to have an audience that can take a joke," she says, while on break from her current comedy tour, "Beautiful." "As far as I can remember, I wanted to do standup my entire life, so I'm glad there are people out there who like my show and don't take offense at everything I say."

Along with comedy, Cho also dabbles in writing, acting and music. She's been on the road for over a decade, gaining traction with each subsequent TV show, film, comedy tour, music video and book release. She comes back to San Jose to perform at the Mountain Winery on Sept. 12. On a much-needed day off, Cho spoke to Metro about Obama, music, performing gay marriages and returning to Silicon Valley.

METRO: You were born in the Bay Area?

MARGARET CHO: Yes! I was born in San Francisco and lived there pretty much my whole life until I started to tour and do comedy.

How often do you come back?

I come back just to hang out all the time. My best friend lives in the bay. Plus, I get tattooed at a spot in San Francisco. I'm here a lot! It's home.

Do you like performing here?

I love San Jose! I've performed at San Jose's Gay Pride events before, and have spent a lot of time working there. I've probably played every club there. It's a real cool place.

Your comedy deals a lot with gays and lesbians, and the community seems real supportive of you. When did that support begin to build?

I think that started because when I was young and started doing standup, I did a lot of gay bars. One of my first gigs was actually in San Jose at a gay bar called the St. James Club. I played every venue I could at first, and gay bars and clubs were always very inviting and accepting. As a result, a lot of my fan base are gays and lesbians. And I also talk a lot about queer culture in my act, which I think the audience is obviously very receptive to.

Is it true you were deputized by the city of San Francisco to perform gay marriages?

Yes! When I was in San Francisco, they deputized me. But I did it just for a day. It's actually not as amazing as it might sound. I think almost anyone who has the Internet can go online and get a license to perform marriages.

What was your worst experience during a performance?

Ha ha, I've had a number of terrible experiences! Recently though, I was accidentally booked to play a Republican fundraiser, and it was a real serious, intense fundraiser. And they actually had the sound system turned off as I was performing [laughs]!

Speaking of Republicans, what are your thoughts on the upcoming election?

Well, I'm just glad that Bush is gonna be out of office soon! I think it's really important for us to have a new start, and for Obama to be voted into the White House. I think Obama's going to make a fine president, and I really identify with a lot of what he says.

How is it touring with Cyndi Lauper?

I love her! I worked with her when she asked me to open for her on tour. I've done it two years in a row now! She's a really good friend, and I'm constantly in awe of her talent and her amazing ability to keep herself together through the years.

I know you're a music fan; let's talk about it a bit. I heard you dig the Dresden Dolls.

Yes, I think they're really great! I was lucky enough to tour with them recently and they're an amazing band. I was actually in their "Shores of California" video.

Any other bands you really dig?

Currently? Well, I really wanna join Broken Social Scene but don't think they want me as a member. I also love Stars, which is another great Canadian band. I'm also listening to the Raconteurs and the Black Keys a lot. I'm also a huge fan of Joan Jett, Morrissey and David Bowie; I love a lot of '70s music.

Have you seen the show, Flight of the Conchords?

Yes, I love them! I think they're really talented, funny guys. I even helped them write a song! They used to perform at this little club called Fargo where I would perform at too. And after a show one time, they asked me for some words to a song called "Male Prostitute," so I kinda helped them write that song. How did they know I was familiar with male prostitutes?

You recorded a rap song a while back?

They call me MCMC [MC Margaret Cho]! I recorded a rap record a few years ago for fun. It's a bit out-there. We made a video for it, and I think it turned out real funny.

You listen to hip-hop?

I love hip-hop. From the old-school stuff to the new stuff. I like Dizzee Rascal a lot. I was also listening to Lupe Fiasco's new album for a while. But you know who I really love? I really love Ghostface [Killah]. I love his voice and most of his albums.

After everything's said and done, do you want to be remembered for writing, standup, music or acting?

Standup comedy. It's my favorite thing in the world to do.

MARGARET CHO performs Friday, Sept. 12, at 7:30pm at the Mountain Winery, 14831 Pierce Road, Saratoga. Tickets are $45–$55; call 408.998.TIXS. For concert dining reservations or more information, visit or call 408.913.7126.

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