Margaret Cho:“I still think there is so much to be said about Sun Ho and the City Harvest scandal”

The Korean-American comedienne will also talk about the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements in her show here on May 15.

The last time Margaret Cho was in Singapore two years ago, she said her PsyCHO  show will be so wild that some folks wish they had petitioned against her. But no such thing happened. Well, haters — you know who you are — you have another chance to stop her when the Korean-American comedienne, 49, performs at the Kallang Theatre on May 15. This time, she says her Fresh Off  The Bloat show is going to be “shocking, provocative and exciting”. In other words: it’s business as usual. When 8 DAYS spoke to Cho, it was early April and she had yet to research on her material for her show here. Cho, who does the research on her own, says, “[The material] changes from day to day, and there’s always something to talk about.” (Will Cho, who once played Kim Jong Il on 30 Rock, touch on the recent developments between North and South Korea?) The interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.


8 DAYS: The last time we spoke, you were getting ready for your first-ever show here. And you’re now back with a new show, Fresh Off the Bloat. How do we rank among all the places you’ve been to?

MARGARET CHO: Very high. I loved it! It’s very special; it’s a beautiful place unlike any place else in the world. It’s very hot, lush and tropical, and it’s very interesting. I’m thrilled to be back. The audience was very warm; the reception was fantastic. I think people were shocked, or really taken aback, by the kinds of subjects that I got into. Because they were things that would make people go like, “Wow!”. And [for the new show], there will be a lot of talk about the #MeToo movement, #TimesUp, and all of the stuff about feminism. There’s also a lot of stuff about race and whitewashing, and certainly a little bit about Trump. But mostly, it’s a new era of feminism that we’re getting into, so that in itself is very shocking, provocative, and exciting.

Did you get to do any touristy things?

Yes, and it was so hot I thought I was going to die. But that’s why it’s so fun to go out at night, with outdoor food courts that have really delicious food, and the night is very welcoming and tropical. 

You joked about the City Harvest trial in your last show. What Singapore current events will you touch on this time? Have you started on your research?

I haven’t started my research! My whole thing is from the last time I was there, so I still think there is so much to be said about Sun Ho and that whole crazy City Harvest scandal, and just this mega-church culture in general.

Kathy Griffin was here in November. She told Howard Stern that she was detained at every airport on her world tour and she thought it had something to do with her run-in with President Trump. When you’re on the road, do you ever feel that you’re being watched by the people you talked about in your show?

Yes, you get paranoid! I know that it was very real for [Kathy]. She was actually even more intimidated by Singapore. When she was performing [in Singapore], I talked to her on that day before she did her set, and she was so scared because she had heard that it was incredibly conservative, and that [you’d] be really angry if she was as outrageous as she normally is. I told her, “No, just go ahead and be yourself! They’re going to love it,” and I know [you] did.

Since we’re on the topic of the #MeToo movement, what’s your take on the Louis C K scandal? I was a fan, but when you hear about what he did, it became painful to laugh at his jokes now.

Yes! It’s so weird. It’s something that I just don’t understand. It is really this abusive power that has nothing to do with sexuality or anything. It’s so strange how it’s like you know them, but you don’t know them. So it’s hard to reconcile how we feel. Do we even know about these people? It’s all very strange, and I think that’s part of why I really enjoy getting to talk about it. Also, for so many people, we haven’t had the chance to talk about this kind of stuff in our work.

It must be depressing to comb through the news ever since Trump got elected. I don’t envy you: You have to read a lot of news to do your job. I’ve actually been watching more comedy shows because stand-up comedians help me better understand the craziness that’s going on around the world. 

It’s depressing [reading the news], but it’s also important to know what’s going on. There’s always something [you can get some take on], whether it’s online or on social media. I love getting it from comedians. I think that’s really helpful. You need to be aware of what’s going on, but yes, it can be very depressing and sickening.

I recently saw an episode of Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. It was the ‘You Can Go Cho Again’ ep which you guested on. In that ep, you apologised to a group of people who were offended by the rape-related topics in an earlier show you did in the US. On top of that, you did a make-up show for them. 

I thought that was great. I was so excited to be able to get another sense of closure; to get another chance to talk to them. That’s such a rare thing and comedians never want to do stuff like that. It’s not something that comedians ever really do, and so, I loved it. I thought it was really amazing and Jerry was great. They were so excited to see him and I really felt it was special.

Yes, he opened that show for you!

It was totally nerve-wracking! But he’s such a great guy, and he’s a big fan. He loves comedy. He loves to watch comics, and I think that’s really amazing, so I really love him.

That episode of Comedians in Cars also showed a clip of a young Sam Rockwell, whom you were classmates with at the San Francisco School of the Arts. He won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar recently. Do you guys still stay in touch?

I haven’t talked to him yet! I think we’ll always be close, because of the experience of doing stand-up comedy together when we were really young kids. We haven’t talked yet, but I’m so proud of him. I think he’s amazing.

Besides doing stand-up, is acting still a priority? You were just in the Netflix movie Bright.

It’s always going to be what I want to do. I have a few different things coming up that are not ready to be announced yet, but I think as an actor you always want to be able to be an actor that’s versatile and can do drama, comedy, and all sorts of stuff. So I’ll always do that.

margaret cho bright
Not a role model: Cho plays a dirty cop in the Netflix fantasy thriller 'Bright'. “I actually auditioned for it and got it,” says Cho. “I had a great time with Will Smith and [director] David Ayer. [It was an] incredible production.”

Hate to bring this up, but you did a cameo in Sharknado 5: Global Swarming....what was that?

I’m a fan of the franchise (laughs). I love it, and I loved being a part of it! It’s really fun. I had a great time doing it. Yeah, it’s a silly thing, but it was so fun.


Main photo: LAMC

Catch Margaret Cho’s Fresh Off The Bloat Tour at Kallang Theatre, May 15 (Tue), 8pm. Tix from Sistic. Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, Bright and Sharknado 5: Global Swarming are on Netflix.


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