Comedienne Margaret Cho returns to The Mirage Sept. 6 and this time, she’s bringing her mother along.
In spirit, anyway.
Performing her latest stand-up routine, “Mother,” ticket holders can expect the self-proclaimed “lifetime fag hag” to not only discuss the controversial topics she’s become associated with over the years—marriage equality, bisexuality, gay rights—but also talk extensively about her own mother, Seung-Hoon Cho.
“We’re way closer now that I learned to speak Korean,” Cho told Examiner.com during an exclusive phone interview. “My father was deported when I was a little girl, so I was never taught the language—it was foreign to me. I just learned it through Rosetta Stone.”
A fan favorite, Cho said her mom couldn’t be happier to be a part of her latest routine.
“It’s a dream come true for her,” she stated. “Korean women tend to feel more invisible as they get older, so it’s great to celebrate them.”
While Cho’s mom has long been a staple of her shows, that doesn’t mean Cho’s recycling the same old material. The comedienne said she’s always “excited to go back” to some of her old material and give it a “new perspective,” presenting topics in “new, different ways” based on her life experiences.
“I love [watching old stand-up specials]; I was such a different person back then,” Cho said. “It’s weird, too, how you can have no recollection of some things—how your mind can fully delete things to make space for life. It’s kind of scary.”
Cho said the biggest change she’s experienced as a comedienne over the past two decades is that she’s “a lot less afraid and a lot less fearful of offending people” with her material.
“I remember when I was really young, my manager told me I couldn’t talk about being queer or bi in my material because it was too dangerous,” Cho recalled. “So I was reluctant to talk about it. Now I don’t have that fear, so I’m free to go back and explore those feelings. There’s always that danger of offending people, but you have to ride that edge.”
Given how open Cho is now about sexuality, addiction and other taboo topics, it seems hard to imagine a time when the outspoken comedienne would ever choose to censor herself. A pioneer or “mother figure” to so many, Cho is frequently looked up to by fans for standing up in what they believe in and sympathizing with their struggles. Although Cho looks fantastic now (and truthfully always has), the comedienne admitted that many of her own addictions, whether it be drugs or shopping, initially grew out of her own struggles with her weight, a topic she’s been very open about and that goes back to her “All-American Girl” days.
“My main addiction has always been food,” Cho stated. “I’m less conscious about dieting now than I’ve ever been, though. I don’t care; I just have what I want. For me, it seems like if I obsess over what I plan on eating, I always end up having more than I planned. I just let my natural instincts take over. I find I’m much less excessive than when I restrict myself. You just have to listen to that inner voice tell you what you need versus dieting or working out or punishing yourself for what you ate. You can’t live your life fed up; you have to value yourself at the size you’re at.”
While on the subject of food, it was only natural to ask Cho if she discovered any new restaurants the last time she was in town—or had a chance to check out the new Nobu restaurant at Caesars Palace given her love of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino’s Nobu.
“No, I haven’t had a chance to check it out yet, but I’d love to,” Cho stated. “I actually attended this event chef Nobu was honored at and Kenny G gave a musical speech. It wasn’t on the sax, it was another wind instrument I wasn’t familiar with—maybe an oboe?—but he came down the aisles and got right in my face with it. It was funny. But yeah, I would love to stay at the new Nobu Hotel and eat there. Last time I ended up at this new place, the Peppermill. Well, it isn’t a new place, it’s an old place, but it was new to me. That was great. Las Vegas always seems to be the launch point of many of my tours and journeys—we even started the True Colors Tour there.”
Always busy with various projects, Cho just wrapped up shooting the next season of “Drop Dead Diva” and promised fans some “shocking” moments when the series returns Oct. 6.
“I think my character is the only character that grows more stable,” Cho said. “There are some weird changes ahead. It’s definitely a surprise-filled season.”
Never one to stay away from the stage for too long, Cho admitted that it’s a challenge performing stand-up while on the set of the hit Lifetime series.
“‘Drop Dead Diva’ will start filming at 5 a.m., so it’s hard to go out at night,” she said. “I try not to stay away from stand-up too long, though, because when you take a long break it’s hard to get going again. You get stage fright and you get nervous. If you do it all the time, though, it’s just this regular thing. So I try to stay active, though I am conscious that I have to get up early and what my face might look like in the morning.”
When asked if she would ever consider a regular headlining engagement in Las Vegas versus just performing once a year or so at The Mirage, Cho said she would love to one day.
“I think that’s something performers need to do: a live residency in Las Vegas,” she said. “It’s become a tradition in show business: the Rat Pack, Siegfried & Roy, Celine Dion, Carrot Top, George Wallace, Cher—it’s just amazing to think you could see these people every day.”
For now, though, Cho’s just happy continuing to hone her craft on the road.
“One thing I’ve heard a lot [in stand-up] is to open with your serve and close with your goal,” Cho stated. “You have to start strong and end stronger, and I think that’s really profound because as a comedian you’re constantly striving to do better.”
And as the millions of people who’ve seen her perform live before would attest, with every passing set, Cho’s doing just that. In fact, you could even argue that she’s matured into the “Mother” of stand-up comedy.
Margaret Cho returns as part of The Mirage’s Aces of Comedy lineup Fri., Sept. 6, at 10 p.m. Tickets are $49.99, $59.99 and $69.99, plus tax and a service fee. To reserve your seats, simply click here or call 702-792-7777.
Don’t miss Cho on “The Arsenio Hall Show” Oct. 1, E!’s “Fashion Police” Oct. 4 and “Chelsea Lately” Oct. 10.
For more on Margaret Cho, visit her official website.