Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Margaret Cho forces a little reality into her fantasy life on The Cho Show.



Margaret Cho -- Rainbow II (Getty) |

She plops the
uneaten half of her chicken wrap into a to-go container
before announcing that she needs to head home to prepare for
a party for “some big marijuana political
organization” she’ll be attending at the
Playboy Mansion with a longtime friend of hers, gay comic
Scott Silverman. Though Cho has struggled with
substance abuse problems in the past, she sips
champagne and cracks pot jokes on The Cho Show.
“I drink a little bit and do other stuff, but
it’s nowhere near where it used to be,” she
explains. “You grow out of it.” She says
the Playboy Mansion is about as hetero a social scene
as you’re ever likely to find her in. When asked why
her social life is so gay, she answers that gay events
are usually just more fun. “Who wants to go to
a straight nightclub? And do Jell-O shots or
something? That’s gross. Even straight people
don’t want to go.”

press release describes Cho’s show as her
“quest for fame.” Considering the
success of Kathy Griffin’s My Life on the
, that kind of marketing makes sense, though it
doesn’t seem to fit Cho. In person and even on The
Cho Show
there’s something sort of
unharried and Zen about her that makes it hard to discern
what exactly drives her. “My motivations are
really basic,” she says. “I really love
the work. I don’t think I’d know what to do if
I didn’t do this.”

An anecdote she
shares about the wonders of mosquito repellent is oddly
more telling about where Margaret Cho is in her life than
the R-rated musings she so easily offered earlier.
“I recently went to see the True Colors show in
Vancouver,” recalls Cho, who was a regular on last
year’s tour and performed occasionally this
time around. “It was right by a lake and there
were mosquitoes all around, and I had remembered to put on
repellent…and I didn’t get bitten. I thought,
That’s enough for me. Small things are so
wonderfully satisfying…” she adds before
slipping back into her adopted personality,
“like dick. I love dick. I’m
grateful for it every time.” She just can’t
help herself.

In the end
Cho’s appeal isn’t about what we know or feel
about her so much as how she makes us feel about
ourselves. In Cho’s universe we’re all
valid and we’re all beautiful—which happens to
be the name of her upcoming special -- regardless of
age, color, gender, height, size, shape, or

“You fight
for those who are oppressed,” says a tearful young
woman as she approaches Cho at a Korean of the Year
award ceremony in one of the most memorable and
spontaneous scenes in The Cho Show. The fan had
written down what she wanted to say so she could get
through it without succumbing to nerves and emotion.
“I totally identity with you and I look up to
you,” she continues, sobbing. “I love
you, Margaret Cho. The world is better with you in

Rest assured, as
long as there’s a microphone and a crowd, Cho will
continue to be a strong voice in the world. “I would
love to go to another level as a stand-up, to do
stadiums,” she says. “That’s my
goal.” Just don’t expect her to dial
down the queer content. “Talking about gay
culture is so fun and so funny, and it’s where my
life is,” she says. “I don’t know
what I would be talking about without it. What would be
funny to me?”

Tags: television