Margaret Cho

10.4.11

The Light Of Creativity

Margaret Cho is a standup comic and a sitcom star.  So why does she have an entire page on a music blog?

First, her Grammy nominated musical comedy album “Cho Dependent” features songs that fit into the rock genre.  Besides the fact that she plays guitar and writes songs, Margaret has a rock spirit.

She’s the rock and roller of standup comics.  Unlike Jerry Seinfeld’s pop spirited humor or Eddie Murphy’s rhythm and blues styled comedy, Margaret is a hard rocking, rebellious non-conformist who speaks from the heart.

Like a "patron saint" of outsiders she hauls her tiny tatted body onto stages all over the world creating a spoken word "safe haven" for people who feel underrepresented.

Those are good reasons to feature her on a music blog.  But the main reason she’s featured is because I feel I owe her a huge debt of gratitude.

The first time I covered Margaret I was living in a shelter.  Job hunting, hater-dodging, and run-ins with the resident Booty Bandit and her band of flunkies occupied the bulk of my time.  Even though I wanted it to be, writing was not my first priority.

Emotional and physical safety were in such short supply, I couldn’t get focused enough to get back into the kind of writing I needed to do in order to keep me balanced.

Practicing my craft is what helps me sort out the world around me.  Writing helps to soothe my soul when it’s aching and brings clarity where there is confusion. Believe me, when the shelter block Booty Bandit is after you because you won’t give up the bacon, confusion is abundant and clarity is needed in large doses.

I thought about things for a while then I got an idea.  I thought I could go back to freelance writing.  Meeting the Grammy winning rapper Eve a few months earlier got my juices flowing.  But being out of the game for such a long time left me feeling rusty.  I had to do something though.

So, I went back to basics.  I remembered how I started out writing 250 word indie music reviews for webzines.  I figured I could go back to that.  Maybe write one a month, just enough to keep me somewhat centered and two steps ahead of the Booty Bandit.

It worked. I became a music reviewer for an online news site.  During my research for hot hometown bands I discovered Margaret was out supporting her musical comedy album.  The tour was on its way to my town so I dove right in.

She granted the interview and no matter how much of a hot mess I was, no matter how odd the phrasing of my questions, Margaret was a true professional. She was also kind and extremely generous.

That experience brought me out of the darkness and into the light of my creativity.  It gave me the confidence to delve deeper into my passion for music and writing.  Several months later: this blog, the makings of a fantastic stage play, and the core of a book about my adventures as a wannabe hit songwriter/rock star.

Covering Margaret Cho changed my creative life.  For her, I’m sure it was just another 15-minute phoner and I was just another writer.  For me, it was like taking a leap across a colossal canyon of doubt, terrified I’d fall into the abyss below, desperate to land safely on the other side.

I made it.

Thank you Margaret Cho.

- Renée Westbrook




7.13.11

Margaret Cho is on a roll. Season three of her popular Lifetime series "Drop Dead Diva" premiered in June and is going strong.

Last year she was a contestant on one of the hottest television shows in prime time, "Dancing With The Stars", and her musical comedy album “Cho Dependent” was nominated for a Grammy.

July 16 she’ll bring some of those hilarious songs and her own personal brand of heartfelt, rock and roll spirited standup to the San Diego LGBT Pride Festival at Marston Point in Balboa Park, 8:15 p.m.

The “Cho Dependent Tour” continues in August making stops in the UK and Australia. If we’re lucky, she’ll release her next musical comedy album “Yellow” much sooner than later.

A serious musician at heart, Cho took a quick five to chat with us about music.


RRR: The “Cho Dependent” album is one of the funniest comedy albums I’ve ever heard. What can we expect to hear on the tentatively titled “Yellow”?

MC: Thank you! The new album is all about race and ethnic identity - really melodic pop and very Beatles-esque which is why I am calling it “The Yellow Album”. I have recorded a few songs so far, one with my parents that is really beautiful. I am excited about it.

RRR: In our last conversation you said singing and songwriting were natural evolutions of your creativity. Will there be a time when, as an artist, you evolve out of standup and acting altogether and focus solely on making music?

MC: Oh no, I will always do standup comedy and acting and everything else. I love making music, but even that is part of my standup comedy since it's comedy songs, so it's all kind of the same thing.

RRR: How’s the guitar playing? Have you gone electric yet?

MC: I have electrics, but I don't play them often. I’m more of an acoustic lady. I have the same guitar as Justin Bieber!!

RRR: What would a rock duet with you and Madonna, both singing and playing guitar, sound like?

MC: Ooh that would be exciting. I have always wanted to do a rocking version of “Enough Is Enough” so that would be a great duet for us. Madonna can really shred though. I’m more of a folk music style player.

RRR: Who are your favorite rock artists/bands that you'd like to play on stage with?

MC: I’d love to do something with Broken Social Scene, The New Pornographers, Tegan and Sara.  I love the Canadians!



Tour info

Photo courtesy of Pixie Vision Productions




9.15.10

Margaret Cho releases musical comedy CD    

MargaretCho's first musical comedy CD release "Cho Dependent" is just as raunchy as her stand-up routines and the songs are hilarious.

Cho teamed up with a group of seasoned musicians including Patty Griffin, FionaApple, AC Newman, and Ani DiFranco to create a 13 track disc covering the topics of drugs, sex, rock and roll, bad relationships, and lice.

"Intervention", an acoustic soft-core punk tune featuring indie darlings Tegan and Sara, sounds like the theme song of a cable TV sketch comedy show. It plunges headlong into old school Cheech and Chong territory when the target of the intervention, an inebriated Cho, throws up into a jack-o-lantern.

Tommy Chong's appearance on "Calling In Stoned" needs no explanation because his decades old stoned hippie dude act is perfectly placed and it still works. There's an orchestral pop ode to the human male reproductive organ that will make your jaw drop, but sorry. Can't name that tune here.

While "Eat S*** and Die" and "Enemies", express the bitter side of relationships, "I'm Sorry", a Loretta Lynn gone postal country ditty, makes spousal homicide seem like a day at Dollywood.

In spite of the fact that her songs reside in the blue and bawdy zone, Cho finds a way to press your laugh button. She tickles the humor stashed away in your hidden humor vault. No matter how raunchy the songs, "Cho Dependent" is proof she can make you laugh at just about anything - even if you don't want to.

Label: Clownery Records
Release date: Aug. 24 2010

Cover painting by Shawn Barber, design by The Uprising


- Renée Westbrook