An interview with Margaret Cho

 
 

Margaret Cho has a long list of titles — comedian, actress, director, producer, writer and now musician — but for fear of missing something, I just refer to Maragret as an artist. It doesn’t matter what medium she is working in, one thing is certain; Cho always delivers quality entertainment.


All photos by Lindsey Byrnes

Margaret recently took the time to answer some questions on her career, her sexuality and why she worked with so many gay women on Cho Dependent.

AfterEllen.com: Stand up comedy is what you are best known for but you are also an accomplished actress and now have branched into music — how did that happen?
Margaret Cho:
I’ve always been an actor, along with a stand up comic. Most comics are great actors. I think that doing stand up is just the same as acting: You are performing in a character voice that may be close or distant to who you really are. So I’ve been working as an actor as long as I’ve been doing comedy.

Music is fairly new, although I did take piano lessons at a very young age. I didn’t start playing the guitar until recently, and only discovered my singing voice. Although I’m doing music now, I still consider it stand up comedy. It’s jokes in song form.

AE: And you are all set to release your next full length stand up record called Cho Dependent on August 24, where you have taken all your jokes and turned them in to songs. So how did you make the decision to do this? How did you come up with the idea to make a musical comedy album? Did you have any reservations about embarking on such an ambitious project?
MC:
Yes I’m excited about this album. It was a long journey to get it all made. I’ve wanted to incorporate music into my work for a long time as I have a lot of affection for guitar comics and novelty bands as well as for all the incredible songs by Weird Al Yankovic. It was just the right time to make my own.

I learned how to play guitar and sing and got lots of lessons from the amazing people I collaborated with. It was a lot of work and a lot of traveling. The album was written and recorded in Nashville, Austin, Atlanta, New Orleans, New York, Vancouver and Los Angeles — pretty much everywhere music happens. I had some reservations and insecurities because I was such a newbie to recording, but everyone made me feel really safe and taught me so much. I’m so grateful to all the musicians who helped me. It’s an incredible project and they all made it shine.

AE: You collaborated with a lot of queer women on your record. In particular, you worked with Megan Toohey and Garrison Starr on a song called “Gimme Your Seed." What is the story behind that song and how did you begin working with those two women?
MC:
Garrison is a really close friend of mine. I have been a fan of hers ever since I heard the song "Superhero" in 1999. I used to be a runner — I know, weird — and I would listen to that song constantly while I was running and it helped me go faster. I wrote a number of songs with her before and during the album writing sessions — one which is available for download on my website now called "Mazeltov." We have a great connection creatively and she is an extraordinary artist and someone I have learned a lot from. She introduced me to Meg and together we wrote “Gimme Your Seed," which they produced.

“Gimme your Seed” was Meg’s idea. She thought of the concept and I wrote the lyrics and the demo was done overnight. I used lyrics from an existing song that I was going to bring to Jon Brion called "Semen" that I didn’t end up showing him because it was just too rude and I was embarrassed. Sometimes I get really shy about my own crude sense of humor when I am not actually performing. Anyway, the lyrics blended in seamlessly with the new song — "Ha ha, semen is never wasted especially among lesbians."

I love “Gimme Your Seed” because it is very different from the other tracks. It’s a club banger which I love — a really great dance song. It’s a hit!

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