Get The Shame Out, Gay Essential Talks To Margaret Cho

Anyone who has had the opportunity to hear Margaret Cho’s stand-up knows this comedienne doesn’t back down.  Delivering refreshing wit and razor sharp insight, Margaret Cho is known for spiking each and every joke with a hard shot of reality.  Margaret Cho has taken on everything from racism to politics to terrorism to rape and LGBT rights, and she doesn’t plan on pulling her punches anytime soon.

“We can get angry about peace,” explains Cho.  “You need to get the shame out so you can start to let the rage out.”

Margaret Cho

This colorful comedian, musician, producer, and activist was born and raised in San Francisco amidst a turbulent backdrop of gender and racial tension and battles over gay rights.  Much of this turbulence affected Cho personally, between being a young Asian American female herself, and experiencing the death of one of her favorite teachers – a murder by gay bashers.  The experience is what led her into comedy.

“My father owned a gay bookstore in the 1970’s,” says Cho.  “This was the time of [Harvey] Milk.  I remember how devastating his assassination was, and I was disappointed that my mother wouldn’t let me go to the memorial.”

She goes on to explain, “I started comedy in a devastating time.  We just lost Milk, and we had AIDS.  I was a witness to very tragic and beautiful things in the gay community.  I started to be political after that.”

One of the beautiful parts of working as an up-and-coming comedian in San Francisco was the opportunity to work closely with the late Robin Williams, who Cho lovingly refers to as her Comedy Father.  It was in San Francisco where the fuzzy and funny Robin Williams not only perfected his own stand-up, but worked tirelessly for those less fortunate than himself – specifically San Francisco’s thousands of poor and homeless.

“Most people don’t know how much he did,” says Cho.  “Robin is not just the father of San Francisco comedy.  He was really there for everyone.  So kind.  He inspired me to start the #BeRobin charity to help the homeless of San Francisco.  We find clothing, food for them.  We expanded to Atlanta where we partnered with Luluemon and Tough Love Yoga, offering the homeless yoga in addition to food and clothing.”

She goes on to share, “Even after Robin was successful he used to come back to San Francisco and would be a door man at the comedy clubs.  But he would always go on right before me, which was so hard to follow up as a comedian!”

However, with topics such as sexual abuse and police brutality in her repertoire, Margaret Cho didn’t rest in Robin Williams’ shadow for very long.  A victim of sexual abuse at a very young age, Cho has no reservations about sharing even the most delicate aspects of her own life with her audience.

“[My favorite] is right now, it’s talking about rape.  Particularly my mother’s reaction to it!” Cho says.  “My abuser is a real predator and he’s actually in the family.  It often is very uncomfortable.  I mean, recently I received an honor and my parents, for some reason, had invited my abuser to the event.  He comes over to give me a hug, so I embraced him…then I leaned in close and whispered in his ear, ‘You know what you did and I am going to fucking kill you.’”

“You want to be heroic as a comedian, you always want to win,” Cho explains.  “But it’s not about violence – this is a reminder that sex abuse becomes self abuse if not addressed.  You need to get the shame out and let the rage out.”

Cho further addresses sexual abuse with her latest music video, entitled (I Want To) Kill My Rapist, from her Cho Dependent album.  Wielding a combination of art and personal empowerment, Cho delivers a message of overcoming adversity, ditching the shame surrounding sexual abuse, and not letting one’s self be a victim.

“I wrote the song with my partner at the time and it all came together very quickly.  When we first performed it, I realized I had tapped into something without realizing it.  People came up to and started sharing their own experiences,” says Cho.  “I realized the song had power.”

Margaret Cho

Margaret Cho will be bringing ‘THE PsyCHO TOUR to London’s Leicester Square Theatre from 15th – 20th December for more information go to

Refocusing on her stand-up, Cho’s latest show, There’s No ‘I’ in Team but There’s a ‘Cho’ in PsyCHO, is about to kick off a European tour with stops in many cities, including Helsinki, Berlin, Oslo, and 5 performances in London alone.  So, what can European audiences expect when the fiery Korean American invades their city?  Well, that depends what’s happening in the world at the time.

“The thing is daily this show needs to change, ” Cho explains.  “So, right now we of course need to talk about Paris, Beirut, Kenya.  I had a realization about Paris recently.  People are saying to me, ‘now since Paris happened, you know Donald Trump is going to become President.’  And I realized…Donald Trump is part of ISIS!!! That’s the only way it makes any sense, right???”

Following her European tour, Cho plans to return to doing what she does best – writing great, insightful comedy and being a voice for inequality in the US.

“Marriage equality is a great step,” Cho explains, “but hate crime laws only include LGBT in 16 states.  We need to look at the details in each state and that’s a very big job.  Take what’s happening in Utah.  We need to address states where gay people can’t adopt children.”

“I’ve visited the White House a few times and we always get to speak about different topics.  There’s a lot to be done and I’m just trying to do as much as I can before Obama leaves office.”

Even if he does somehow manage to win the election, Donald Trump might want to think twice about accepting the position and becoming 45th President of the United States.  Especially with Margaret Cho waiting for him.  

Margaret Cho will be bringing ‘THE PsyCHO TOUR to London’s Leicester Square Theatre from 15th – 20th December for more information go to

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Dave Croyle

Dave Croyle

Dave Croyle is an advertising and marketing professional with a knack for building ideas and getting things done. Throughout his career he has written and produced creative work for a variety of brands, big and small. As a history buff and art geek, Dave is passionate about exploring cultures and seeing the world. Dave resides in Pittsburgh, PA with his wife and two dogs.