Margaret Cho has broken down barriers throughout her career. How many hugely popular, openly bisexual Korean American standup comedians are there out there? She’s now embarking on a new tour, which she’s unapologetically calling “The Psycho Tour.” In advance of her stop at the Wilbur this fall, we checked in with Cho to talk about politically outspoken comedy, gay rights and how to do “Fashion Police” right.
Why call the tour the “Psycho” tour?
It’s a really feminizing word, to deal with female insanity in the same way that hysterical is often attributed to women. Even the movie “Psycho” is Anthony Perkins taking on his mother’s persona as his sort of craziness, so I think it’s a good way to feminize my own brand of insanity. It’s just about all of the craziness happening in the world with all of the gun violence and police brutality and the rising tide of violence against women. All of this stuff makes me so crazy, and so I’m trying to heal all of this suffering with my own craziness.
And crazy is always the go-to insult for women, isn’t it.
And to shut them down. To keep a woman from speaking or to make her actions seem invalid.
You’ve always been someone who had a huge LGBT following. Now that that group of people is seeing huge changes in both legal rights and a new degree of acceptance, does it change how you talk about LGBT rights at all?
I don’t think so. It doesn’t change the overall message. There’s always going to be homophobia. There’s always going to be something to address there. I think that even gets expressed even more strongly when we have proven to be very important members of the mainstream, and so that becomes very threatening to people who want to hang onto their homophobic ideas.
What else gets you riled up these days?
There’s so much. There’s like all of this craziness. Like there’s Jared Fogle and there’s this whole thing with Bill Cosby which is such a nightmare, and so disgusting. Just the way the victims are treated in the media and I think it’s just a real problem.
When something is as dark as that, is it hard to find a way to joke about it?
Yeah, I think so. I think you have to sort of figure it out. The thing about Cosby that’s so ludicrous is that every single one of these women had the same story. They’re all the same. They were all sedated and they all woke up and had the same sweater print on their face. It’s the same story. That, to me is funny. That’s just part of the way that we have to figure out how to talk about it. It’s infuriating, but there’s something ludicrous about it.
You recently had a turn on “Fashion Police.” What’s the secret to making that show work?
It’s not about shaming anybody for who they are. It’s definitely having fun with their looks and our looks. There’s an art to it, I think where it’s not about cruelty and it’s not about shaming people. There’s definitely a way to do it that’s funny and makes it not about fashion victims and makes it a celebration of fashion itself.
Joan Rivers was the acknowledged master at it. What do you think she did that worked so well?
She just had so many jokes. She was such a real, joke machine. That’s what I think I would like to bring to it, is that.
You’ve talked about her being an important person in your life. How did she influence you?
It’s just in my life. She always had a lot of gratitude about everything. I would like to get to that point where I could be as gracious as she always was towards everybody and everything. She had life lessons for me, for sure. She’s a strong force, and did so much for women in comedy and for me personally, so I just love her.