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Cho's in Charge

Photo Courtesy of Kimberly Butler
By Lauren Hillery
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, October 7, 2004
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Those who know the comedian Margaret Cho know her as a woman who explicitly speaks her mind about sex, porn, vaginas, stereotypes, weight problems and substance abuse. But that's just the tip of the iceberg.

Unlike her previous tours, Cho's "The State of Emergency Tour" is traveling to the swing states to discuss more political issues.

"This is all about really promoting the idea of change, no matter what that change is. To break down the idea of hierarchical myth. I think the country is so polarized and things are so dire. This is going to decide whether or not we grow as a nation or decay," Cho said.

It is discussion of key issues like these that has helped Cho make a name for herself. However, Cho was not always the open, outspoken public speaker she is today. She attributes her decision to becoming a comedian to childhood shyness.

"I felt very invisible when I was young, and that feeling continued as I got older. Being an entertainer was a way to amend invisibility. I felt like I existed," Cho said. "It had a lot to do with my development as a person."

Not only was Cho shy, but she also describes herself as a dork.

"I was really quiet, shy and dorky. I didn't have any opportunity to speak. I didn't make them for myself. It took me a really long time to be OK with who I was and I think comedy helped," Cho said.

Although Cho's approach to controversial material and stereotypes is comical and therefore lighthearted, she feels it allows for a unique connection with her audience.

"It's a great way to connect with people, because it seems very intimate. It becomes more than comedy, it becomes something more important," Cho said.

Cho hopes that the material in this tour is motivational, but also serves as a way for the audience to escape the problems of day-to-day life.

"I hope that they're motivated to vote and express themselves. I hope that it alleviates some of the real serious joblessness that is in our nation right now," Cho said.

With this tour, Cho is trying something different. Because the tour is politically themed, Cho is continually writing new material to keep up with the changes in the election.

"It's mostly just keeping up to date with what's happening and keeping current with the news. I have space in the show to expand and to grow into what I'm seeing happening, so that's an exciting thing," Cho said.

Because she has to stay current with politics for her tour, Cho is also working on a book about the year in politics.

"(Writing) generates a lot of work for me. So I can plug it into my setup or I can use it for the book or my blog on my Web site. I have this structured format that I have to go through anyways, so that's how it begins," Cho said.

Cho is also working on beginning production of her first narrative and feature film called "Bam Bam and Celeste," which she described as a gay "Dumb and Dumber."

In addition to touring, writing books and working on films, Cho has won numerous awards for her dexterity in discussing difficult topics. She was recently honored by the American Civil Liberties Union for free speech advocacy and her courage in speaking out about the current political state of the nation.

However, she doesn't consider awards as motivation for her work.

"I don't go into work trying to get awards. To me, the actual performance is the reward in itself," Cho said.

Cho is also doing a few dates with singer/songwriter Ani DiFranco, helping her tour continue into the following year. Cho says it will have evolved a great deal by then, but will hit different cities than she's touring now.

Cho and "The State of Emergency Tour" will take the stage at TCC Music Hall tonight at 8. The tour will also feature information from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and Rock the Vote. Ticket prices range from $28.50 to $38.50.

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