Stand-up comedian. Film actress. Sitcom star. Sitcom failure. Best-selling author. Outspoken political advocate of gay marriage. Rabid devotee of belly dancing.
Margaret Cho seems to have been through a lot in her life, most of which finds its way into her brazen comedic routines. The 37-year-old is returning to Kansas for the first time in several years for a stand-up routine, just weeks after appearing in Kansas filmmaker Steve Balderson's "Phone Sex."
A role model to some and a source of annoyance to others, the Korean performer spoke with the Journal-World on election Tuesday.
Q: Have you voted yet today?
A: I voted a couple of days ago absentee because I was in England and I didn't know if I was going to be back in time. I'm a permanent absentee ballot because I also don't like my polling place. They have this bake sale every time, and I don't want to eat any doughnuts.
Q: Do comedians have an easier time coming up with material when Republicans are in office?
A: Yeah. It's always easy; politics is generally a fun thing to talk about. Certainly this administration makes it very easy because they're so stupid. And the people who are in support of them are also kind of dumb. It's fun to make fun of them.
Q: What can we expect from your live show on this tour?
A: It should be a lot of different things. A lot of new things. A lot of things about politics, the Bush administration, gay marriage, all these sorts of different gay scandals that are happening with Ted Haggard and Mark Foley and on and on. There's a gay-scandal renaissance happening.
Q: Maxim magazine this year picked you as the second worst comedian of all time behind Sinbad? So what's wrong with Sinbad?
A: I don't know. I think Sinbad is funny. Actually, all the people Maxim picked are funny. But they were all people of color. I think that's what you get if you're not white. They were all either women or people of color. The whole point of magazines like that is they're very racist and very sexist.
Q: The first thing I thought was, "Where is Carrot Top?" Is Whoopi Goldberg really less funny than him?
A: No. He's white, so he's exempt.
Q: What do belly dancing and comedy share in common?
A: Very little. You don't want people to laugh at your belly dancing - that's the one thing you want to avoid. I think it's different because you use a different part of yourself. The dance is about communicating with the body, which is a totally different way of maneuvering for me.
Q: On the flip side, is it bad to make people aroused while you're doing comedy?
A: That's all right. It's not as bad as laughing while dancing.
Q: You just made an appearance in Steve Balderson's film "Phone Sex." What was your definition of sexy?
A: Anybody or anything that has a strong sense of itself. I like a lot of confidence and self-assurance. That's very appealing.
Q: Are you the same person offstage as onstage?
A: I think I am, but people always say when they're talking to me or interviewing me that it's very different. As a performer, I know that I'm a lot more aggressive. Or I sound more aggressive. But I don't really see that.
Q: What's the weirdest fact on your resume?
A: What have I done that's weird? I just got back from doing a show with The Dresden Dolls. They're this great band from Boston. I hosted their show, and that's sort of becoming part of what I do, these hosting jobs. I'm also doing another show called "The Sensuous Woman," which is a very different variety show.
Q: Is hosting less pressure than standup?
A: It's different. You kind of have to be on top of it as a host. You're so much a part of what's going on. You're kind of presenting everything. That's hard. And also I'm doing some dancing, too. I have a prosthetic penis. I do this really beautiful and classic fan dance, which is a staple in burlesque. You have this dancer who does a striptease behind all these fans. After this very beautiful, very difficult and strenuous dance, I reveal that I have a penis. That is very shocking to an audience. ... It's a fun way to play with gender and identity. And it was incredibly difficult to find a prosthetic penis. You can't really buy one in a store. So I actually had one made by a special effects guy who does stuff for horror films.
Q: Why didn't you borrow Mark Wahlberg's from "Boogie Nights"?
A: That's too big. Mine is big, but it's not big like that.
Q: What's the best advice you've received about comedy?
A: Steve Martin said it when he said, "Just be so good they can never tell you 'no.'" That's kind of how I've tried to do it all.