Margaret Cho knows a thing or two about traveling. After beginning her standup career at 16, she toured the United States nonstop, bringing her unique brand of comedy to venues across the country. At 26, she broke barriers with her short-lived ABC sitcom “All-American Girl,” where she played a fictionalized version of herself. It was the first American television series where all the lead actors were Asian-American. In her standup routines, Cho talks frankly about how producers asked her at times to try to be more — and less — Asian. Now 39, Cho is ready to debut her new VH1 series “The Cho Show.”
August 27, 2004
Posted by: Jae-Ha Kim
Category: Features, Interviews, Issues
Tags: "Hero", actors, Asian American, Asians, Bruce Lee, Donnie Yen, Ho-Sung Pak, Jackie Chan, John Cho, Justin Lin, Margaret Cho, race issues, racism, Rick Yune, Sandra Oh
Jet Li. Jackie Chan. Donnie Yen. Quick. Which one of these action film stars grew up in the United States? Or, more appropriately, which one of these stars had to leave the United States before he could make a name for himself in Hollywood? That would be Yen. Sure, while he’s not as famous in the United States as either Li or Chan, he has a loyal following worldwide and an impressive resume of films — the best of which were made in Hong Kong.
Over the past few years, Margaret Cho has grown comfortable with herself–a funny, whip-smart comic who doesn’t fit any of the glorified stereotypes of what an Asian American woman should be. She doesn’t play the violin. She doesn’t figure skate. She’s not good at math. She never wanted to be an anchorwoman. And if she knows how to make sushi or give a good back rub, she’s not telling.
At the end of “I’m the One That I Want,” Margaret Cho declares, “I’m gonna stay here and rock the mike until the next Korean-American, fag hag, shit starter, girl comic, trash talker comes up and takes my place!” Any takers? This film version of Cho’s savagely funny one-woman show is true to the tour she took on the road last year.
In her one-woman show “I’m the One That I Want,” Margaret Cho recalls how getting her own sitcom in the mid-1990s signified acceptance to her–for the first time in her life. What she didn’t realize then was that acceptance came with a price.
I don’t necessarily love her semi-autobiographical show “All-American Girl” yet, but I relate to Margaret Cho, the star of ABC’s new comedy. Cho is Korean-American. I am Korean-American. She is the antithesis of the ideal Asian woman (geisha girl). No one would mistake me for Suzy Wong. She snorts when she laughs. I snort when I laugh. She’s big (chubby). I’m big (tall). Once, a Korean friend’s father helpfully advised me to “stop growing” if I wanted to land a husband. She’s not a doctor, but a comedian. I’m not a doctor, but a journalist – kind of like a comedian. Cho dates losers. When I date, they’re usually losers. She’s 25. I’m . . . well, never mind.