Margaret Cho (Photo by Sergio Garcia)

JENNY BLOCK   |  C0ntributing Writer

You can see her in a variety of television shows and films, both as a guest and a star — including Fire Island, Nora From Queens, Hacks, The L Word: Generation Q, and Law & Order:SVU. She was even on The Masked Singer.

VOGUE named her one of nine best female comedians of all-time. Rolling Stone named her one of the “50 Best Stand-Up Comics of All Time, and CNN named her as one of the ”50 People Who Changed American Comedy.”

I am speaking, of course, about the queer icon Margaret Cho, the five-time Grammy- and Emmy-nominated comedian and actress who is now bringing her Live and LIVID! tour to Texas, where she’ll take on “addiction, abuse, activism and Asianess” with her characteristic balance of wit, charm, and bite.

“It’s all about the politics of disgust and what is disgusting about politics,” she says.

You can see Cho April 11 at The Paramount/Moontower Festival in Austin and at the Texas Theatre right here in Dallas on April 12. The Dallas Voice had a chance to catch up with her recently to find out more about her life, the show, and the world on fire.

Dallas Voice: Did you always want to be on stage? Margaret Cho: I started to really plan and plot when I was about eight. As soon as I understood what the job of stand-up comedian was, I was very engaged in trying to make that happen.

When I was really maybe 10 or 11, I had very vivid dreams about performing, which actually are very close to what it’s like now when I am performing. It is very similar. So it’s something that I just always knew this is what I was going to do, and, so yeah, I’m lucky like that.

 So, eight years old, I mean, I’m trying to think if I even know what a stand-up comedian was. Was that part of your universe? Well, I listened to the radio, and in San Francisco at the time, in the ’70s, there were a lot of comedians on the radio. Some of them would even be DJs all day. I love music, so I would listen to the morning radio before going to school or on the ride to school, or there were a million comedians slash DJs who would perform at the comedy club at night, and they were always talking about what shows they were going to do and what happened at the shows.

And I started doing radio when I was about 15 or 16. So I was doing comedy shows, too. And so that experience was really incredible.

That’s amazing. So, if you could bring your 12-year-old self into the future, would she be like, “See, I told you we’d be doing this” or would she be like, “Holy Smokes! We’re really doing this”? Yes and no, because it’s all still incredibly impressive and exciting to me, but at the same time, it’s something that I’ve always wanted for myself, yeah. But it’s still totally amazing.

Have you had one specific “pinch me” moment performing somewhere or with someone? Something happened that made you think,  “Oh my God, this is my life.” Well, yesterday, Joan Jett texted me and said that my name and quotes from me keep coming up in this meditation app she used, and she sent me screenshots of it, and I was like, that’s crazy. And then she’s like, you’re my guru. And I’m like, oh my God, this is Joan Jett. That’s crazy. Because she is my idol. She is rock and roll itself. She is everything. And especially for me as queer woman, that mode of confidence is just so amazing.

So yeah, that’s definitely pinchy. Who is this person and like, oh my God, am I talking to Joan Jett? What is going on? It’s incredible.

You had me at “Joan Jett texted me.” It wouldn’t matter what the text said. I’m just so honored and I really love her, but also just like the icon, the rock star. It’s unbelievable.

That’s amazing. Is there anything sort of outrageous still on your list that you want to do or achieve? Well, I am at that point in my life where I’d like the Mark Twain Award. That’s the highest achievement that a comedian can really look to, and my peers have gotten it. And I think, well, I’m about the age where that would make sense.

I feel like we can make this our manifestation moment. I mean, Joan Jett texted; you’re a guru. Let’s just say that’s going to happen. Yeah. I love it. That’s good.

If you had to choose — stage or screen? Well, it’s so different, but I think always choose stage because it’s what I’ve always done, and it’s what I will always be – a stand-up comedian. I love doing movies and television. That’s so incredibly important to me as well. But I think being a comedian is how I identify, and I love that. I’ve gotten to do this for 41 years and it’s really incredible.

Both for people who have seen you perform live and those who have never seen you before, what can people expect from Live and LividLive and Livid is really just a celebration of all of these years of doing comedy, but also getting very into talking about things that make me really angry. The fact that we’re fighting for women’s rights, the fact that we’re fighting for gay rights, that fact that we are going backwards in so many ways in terms of legislations against trans kids.

How do we find a place of honoring people with their choices in life? And, so, I’m here to protect drag queens. I’m here to protect the trans community. I’m here to really protect women’s rights.

There’s a lot to get into and talk about, and, also, I just want to laugh. I want to be able to have the experience of going out and seeing a show, going out and doing a show. We’ve had that taken away for so long because of Covid. And, so, this is my first full scale tour since then, since 2019, so I’m really thrilled to be back.

How did you manage Covid? It was hard for everyone. But for performers, it just seems like, what do you do? Well, I did a lot of stuff online. I did a lot of things that were virtual, which I actually grew to really love. I think that also I got to really, in a way, experience home life for the first time. I hadn’t been home. I’d been on the road for my entire adult life, and so I actually grew to really love my home life, which is so different.

So yeah, there was a lot of great things about my life that changed, and now I kind of go forward, and I can really appreciate being on the road again.

So, what are we supposed to do right now? How are we supposed to function? Some days I just want to stay in bed even though I know that doesn’t help anything really. How do you keep on keeping on and keeping on with everything going on? Well, you just have to find ways to look for hope. I think my comedy is really based in, “How do I find hope in this situation?” Things that feel hopeless and difficult, and that’s what it’s always going to be about. And I mean, I do love a bed rot. I love the bed rot. I loved to rot in bed and really binge. We didn’t have streaming services when I was growing up.

This is all very new to me. So, I love social media. I love TikTok. I love to just kind of binge on that, which is really so much fun. So, I think that there are ways to check out if you need to deal with your mental health and have those moments of not necessarily doing anything.

You alluded to this a little before. As a lesbian, I worry about myself and my wife and our rights, but I really worry about my trans brothers and sisters. Do you What the heck is going on? Why are the bad guys so up in arms about people just trying to live their lives? It’s a distraction from the real problem. It’s a distraction from the real problem of guns. It’s a distraction from the real problem of the loss of rights in general. It’s an easy way to put us in a place of really having to be defensive and being angry as opposed to being angry about the real stuff. Because the fact is gender for anyone is not a threat. There is no war on gender. There never has been.

The idea that it’s a threat is non-existent, and it’s a very strange way to distract from the true issues that we need to deal with. Gun violence is really at the top of everything, but it’s not discussed nearly as much as bathroom laws or gender. There’s a lot of problems with women as well, women needing to protect the idea of gender. That’s not feminism. That’s not feminism at all. Nope. My friend Dylan Mulvaney put out this wonderful song, which I love. It’s a bop.

It’s so sweet. It’s so sweet. It reminds me of “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.” And I texted her about that, but she’s been getting so much pushback from women who think they need to somehow defend the idea of womanhood. Womanhood is so infinite. You don’t have to be so narrow in your vision of what being a woman is. You are actually limiting the idea of womanhood when you’re putting it down to just biology or this idea that we can bear children or any of these things that they’re so attached to that have all the glory.

Well, you’re just actually excising all of the other amazing things that women are capable of that have nothing to do with the body that are all about the spirit of it and the expansiveness of it. So, it’s so limiting and it’s so upsetting.

It’s so dumb, but it’s like this distraction that doesn’t have anything to do with what’s really true. And I think that’s sort of the evangelical Christian agenda. They’re a machine. Obviously, they don’t even know anything about the Bible either. So why are they using the Bible to justify this when they don’t even read it?

I hope you’ll give her a virtual or real life hug the next time you see her because, it’s funny, I’ve had the opposite experience watching her on TikTok. I feel like she’s given me back the joy of girlhood. I watch her doing these things and think, oh, I forgot how much I like to spin around or how much I want to get dressed up or I don’t know. You see her sweet face and her heart and it’s hard not to smile. She’s just so sweet. So sweet.

Do you have anything to say to the LGBTQ community, particularly our young people coming up now? Any words of hope or words of wisdom? There is hope and there is change coming and there is a way to fight against all of this. We’ve been through worse in a lot of ways, and we were able to come out the other side. So, there’s hope.

And what’s so impressive to me about Gen Z. They’re doing it. They’re voting age now, and they are moving the needle, which is so impressive. So they’re the ones that are going to have to save the planet. They actually have to sort of undo all of the damage we’ve done to the earth, and they’re doing it, which I think is so incredible. And they’re using social media, which is really to a great advantage. And so I’m grateful for them. I need words of encouragement from them. Truly.

Tickets for the Live and LIVID! tour are on-sale HERE