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Where did the initial idea for your new show Mother come from?

I have been working on the material for it for a while, and that seemed like the most appropriate title.

My mother’s always been a focal point in all of my shows and I wanted to dedicate one to her, and to all the mothers in my world.

What has been your most surprising discovery about how different cultures view motherhood?

That non-motherhood is still seen as fairly shocking to many, even in places you’d consider as ‘liberal’.

What was the most important thing you learned from your own mother?

Walking!

How did your San Francisco upbringing shape the person you’ve become?

I got to see a lot of queer politics really get its start. There were people like [first openly gay elected US politician] Harvey Milk and there was a lot of activism around for people with Aids. It was a great education.

Your father writes joke books – does he appreciate your sense of humour?

He’s amazing. I think he appreciates all the different facets of my work now, and the kind of person and artist that I have become.

Do you think the US risks taking two steps back with the upcoming presidential election?

Yes, it’s so frightening. People think of the presidency as some kind of popularity contest, but it goes so much deeper.

What would you have liked Barack Obama’s first term in the White House to have achieved that it hasn’t?

I would love to have seen gay marriage legalised, and to not have put it to the states individually for a vote – civil rights are not issues to be voted on.

How do you feel about the widespread opposition to gay rights in the US?

It’s foul, as we are supposed to be a democracy, but we are far from having equal rights.

What frustrates you most about the conservative right in the US?

Homophobia… and a lack of respect for women’s rights.

Who do you fear most – Mitt Romney or his running mate, Paul Ryan?

I am thinking Paul Ryan.

What are your views on drugs now, good and bad, based on your own experiences?

I think that drugs are really benign, it’s more people’s vulnerabilities to them that are the danger.

Drugs can be good or bad, just like anything else in life. They are inert in and unto themselves.

Do you find it amusing that many people will know you as a stand-up and others will know you from acting, like playing John Travolta’s FBI colleague in Face/Off?

Oh yeah, but I am all those things! I did all of them and think that it is great if anyone has seen any of my work.

You’ve moved in to musical comedy in the last couple of years – how do you get the balance right and avoid becoming Weird Al Yankovic?

Weird Al is the best, I would love to be like him! He’s an amazing musician and such a great comedian. My balance is all about whatever it ends up being – music isn’t at the centre of my comedy, it’s more of a side note.

An early break for you was winning a support slot for Jerry Seinfeld – what did you learn from that experience?

I learned that my words had value and that my perspective was important. And that was enough to sustain me in my early years.

What’s your most abiding memory of your time on 2010’s Dancing With The Stars (she was eliminated third but beat David Hasselhoff and Michael Bolton)?

Sarah Palin (whose daughter Bristol was on the show) waving at me maniacally from the audience as I stood under the hot lights waiting to see if we were getting voted off.

How do you balance the comedy and socio-political comment of your shows?

I always want to be a comic first and foremost, and that is what I will always try to be.

 

Margaret Cho: Mother. Oct 26-31. 7.30pm. £23.50.
Leicester Square Theatre

WC2H 7BX  
Tube | Leicester Square
leicestersquaretheatre.com


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Interview: US comedian Margaret Cho on gay rights, Obama and Dancing With The Stars
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