The following output was transcribed from our audio recording.
Although the transcription is largely accurate, it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors.
It is posted to aid in understanding the interview but should not be treated as an authoritative record.
Mindy Cohn 00:02
Hi everyone, Christian and I welcome you back to Monday's with Monday.
Christian Brescia 00:06
Hi everybody. Welcome back to the show.
Mindy Cohn 00:09
Today's episode features a conversation with comedian, actor, musician, advocate and artist Margaret Cho. Excited. Yes, the San Francisco native has been named one of the 50 best comics of all times by Rolling Stone magazine, and rightly so. Doing stand up since the age of 14. Margaret came to national notoriety in 1994 when she created and starred in the ABC sitcom all American Girl, a better nonconformists, Korean American girl with liberal views and our very traditional conservative family. She followed this up with groundbreaking Off Broadway one woman show I am the one that I want. After a smash hit national run and book and film she launched into notorious Margaret Cho with an even larger success and a Showtime special shows, specials and tours that follow include shows called revolution, beautiful, psycho, show dependent and mother. Most recently, Margaret is touring her show fresh off the bloat, and that will continue into most of 2021. In between these tours, Margaret never stopped working in television notably starring in six seasons of Drop Dead Diva on lifetime blowing audiences and judges minds in her season of the masked singer on Fox episodes of high maintenance and Law and Order SUV. her feature film turns include faith based friendsgiving an over the moon. Also a Grammy nominated musician Margaret has released albums on her clownery label that includes a plethora of collabs. I first learned of her musicianship and amazing singing voice on her special show dependant with all her success in her creative life. Margaret has always found time and energy to devote her voice and talent to anti bullying and gay rights campaigns. Most recently, she has launched her own podcast, the Margaret Cho. Very cute. Get it the Margaret Cho. Set down that adorable. I mean, I'm taking her common co host is her ridiculously adorable dog, lucea or Lucia? We'll have to find out. We'll find out. It's lucea Alright,
Christian Brescia 02:21
shall we welcome her into the show. I would love that. Ladies and gentlemen, it is our pleasure to welcome the fabulous Margaret Cho. Hi, Margaret. Hi. Hi.
Margaret Cho 02:33
Mindy Cohn 02:34
Oh, thank you. Hi. Very happy, very happy camper here on this end.
Christian Brescia 02:40
Um, good to see you.
Mindy Cohn 02:41
Yeah, so we start each conversation with a goal out of my Johnny atler. jar. And just five random questions. Krishna, I kind of came up with questions, and
Christian Brescia 02:50
it's just a way to just start gabbing. Yeah, get to know you.
Margaret Cho 02:54
Okay. Okay, perfect.
Mindy Cohn 02:56
Here we go. Um, okay, what's the best advice you've been given? And who gave it?
Margaret Cho 03:03
Um, it was a Joan Rivers. And she would say, Oh, he's gonna watch it. If you're funny. Doesn't matter. They're always gonna watch it. And it's like, I found that to be true. You know, that. It's the one thing that really endures. I mean, show business is such a weird landscape. And then you never really know what to do like, what's going to happen, but I found her advice to really be, I don't know, put so much advice. It was more just like a assurance. Mm hmm. To have come true. Yes. Good.
Mindy Cohn 03:41
Yeah, more than good. I'm gonna take that!
Christian Brescia 03:44
I love her as well. Yeah.
Mindy Cohn 03:46
My assumption do people make about you, and they're wrong about it.
Margaret Cho 03:50
I like leopard print. For some reason. Every time I get a gift from somebody, I don't know, well, it's always leopard print. Which I mean, I don't dislike it. But it's not something that I go out of my way to use or to wear or to see, I don't know what it is. But there's something about leopard. I think it's maybe a kind of a maybe a john waters thing. Maybe it's kind of like a female treble john waters divine, or anybody that likes gay men, immediately is going to like leopard print. It's like the next best thing to again,
Mindy Cohn 04:30
it's leopard print, but I don't know why that is. But that is very often the case. If I get something that is fantastic. I can just tell you that my granny rose, who was the lead salesperson at the freer department at Saks Fifth Avenue wore leopard every day.
Margaret Cho 04:46
Wow. That's incredible. That's a fun fact.
Mindy Cohn 04:50
She fits in all those categories. Yeah.
Margaret Cho 04:52
I love it. I love it. That's fabulous.
Mindy Cohn 04:55
Who is your favorite relative and why?
Margaret Cho 04:58
Oh, my favorite relative my aunt she was called cooney ma so she was like the big and that's what that name is is the big and then she died actually quite a few years ago now but she was really tall which is unusual for korean woman she was like over six feet tall oh wow and she had a really big hearty laugh and she was very wealthy and so every time she would move her hand it was like rings and all this jewelry and then she would just get so overly excited when she'd see you she would give you the jewelry upper hand so i have a lot of jewelry and then she gave to me when she died i inherited it all and it's so like all the rings are really massive like they could be like bracelets like she was a giantess and she was just really fun and even her death was really crazy because she was in chicago and she was trying to go home to korea to die and so she got on a plane and died mid flight over seattle so they had to emergency land the plane and like if she had known she would have died of embarrassment problem even though she was just very bombastic and very extravagant so i mean i love that whole it's almost a stereotype of a crazy aunt but she was that you know and i really do fire that she was a very wealthy wife she married a bank manager or bank i don't really understand but he had like hotels and resorts and golf in korea and he shares a lot of children and like a very she was like the last era of marrying into well from my family now now we just married down but i do anyway but it's more like she was just that kind of an era of a woman like she was her heyday probably were the 50s 60s that time
Christian Brescia 06:57
now this is how naive on my end but did you call her the big Aunt because she was so tall or is that more of a traditional korean thing?
Margaret Cho 07:02
no she was the oldest showed the common korean thing it's like they all have titles like you at a certain point in your life you stop using somebody's name and you give them a name according to where they are in the family or who your daughter is or who your son is so you know like that's just a korean tradition but she was also physically very large so that's part of her legacy.
Mindy Cohn 07:28
Christian Brescia 07:28
Mindy Cohn 07:29
um margaret when was the last time you cried
Margaret Cho 07:33
oh gosh i probably cried maybe two days ago because i always watch a lot of korean dramas and part of it is like crying it's like comedies where you laugh but like they actually make tv shows so that you can cry to it and they have like different like sort of breaks in it so that you only cry for like part of it you know they have like the cues of like the music and the rain and the memories and whatever else smart
Mindy Cohn 07:59
that's like so cathartic
Margaret Cho 08:02
yeah yes because we're very shut down as a nation so we try to like find those emotions through our entertainment that's why i think korean entertainment is so popular all over the world because it gives these emotional outlets whether it's kpop or korean dramas
Mindy Cohn 08:17
Christian Brescia 08:19
Mindy Cohn 08:20
what do you do when you are stuck creatively
Margaret Cho 08:24
um i just take a break i take a break and i do something different like i'll cook or i'll bake or i'll do something that is sort of like not around the thing that i'm working on so whatever that is i just kind of take a moment to just do something for myself whether that's dehydrating some apples or feeding my sourdough starter or you know if i'm stuck creatively sometimes i get stuck on food like oh i don't know how to make this and i'll do is i'll order tacos
Mindy Cohn 08:59
yeah um so do you write every day
Margaret Cho 09:02
no no but i do write it's never set but it's always a kind of thing like i'm also starting to draw so i'm trying to do a little bit of like animation and trying to think about like what that would look like and so i'm drawing these different characters so there's like different things of writing that i would do and then i always take notes so it's never that much of a sit down writing like a thing it's not a practice in that way but i'm constantly putting it to paper or putting it in my phone at least you know just so that i remember or drawing and if i have
Mindy Cohn 09:37
yeah do you come up with the names of your shows and then right or vice versa
both it's kind of like you write it to create the show or you do it after the show is finished and then you go oh i think this is called this but since it haven't been on the road for so long like i don't even know what a show would look like now i haven't done a show since march i mean i do them on line, but it's a different feeling.
Mindy Cohn 10:02
I was just going to ask you how it's going with your latest tour? I mean, I'm calling it a tour because it is
yes, yes. How is it? It's super weird, because I've never taken this much time to not be on the road. I've been touring for 35 years or something amazing. So it's crazy to very strange to not have that experience, you know, to have so much time where you're spending on stage and working. And, you know, there are times in my life where I've gotten on a plane like three times in one day to go to different shows like to do, or different shows. It's really bizarre to not have any kind of movement. And so I do things online. Like I do different online shows and different events. I did one yesterday for the inauguration, which is really satisfying. Yes. I mean, I spent a lot of this past like the end of last year, doing a bunch of, you know, work for the Biden Harris campaign, which is really wonderful. I'm so happy. It was really gratifying yesterday to my favorite was Lady Gaga.
Mindy Cohn 11:13
I mean, I mean, it started with the gown. I knew she would deliver with her pipes. I mean, I had no doubt in my mind. Um, yeah, it was kind of obscene in the best way possible.
Yeah, it was so fulfilling like, and she looked so happy to that was also part of it. There was so much joy, and everybody. And then you know, my favorite thing right now is the Bernie means.
Mindy Cohn 11:40
I mean, I mean, Margaret, I can't, I can't right now. It's so hilarious what people coming up with and he he is just among waiting to happen anyway.
I know. I love him. He's so cute with his like, Burton snowboarding jacket, which I tried to buy. Like, Oh, my God, I have to knit those mittens. Yes, I have the mask already. I have to buy that jacket. But it's sold out. Because it's a jacket. It's like a snowboarding jacket, of course, because he's still young at heart. Like, I love it. And so that was really I mean, it was just all really great to say,
Mindy Cohn 12:15
Yeah, I was also just so impressed that he given the pomp and the circumstances and the respect and rightly so it's like, cold and I'm going to be comfortable.
Yeah, like, yeah,
thank you expect.
Mindy Cohn 12:28
Yeah, exactly. So Joe, great. So great. Um, what did you do?
I was doing a lot of outreach for, especially with the Asian American community all over the country, and, you know, doing things with Ted lieu, and doing things just all over with different parts, like Michelle Kwan, which is sort of the she was sort of the liaison for all of us. And so I voiced a lot of animation for different ballot instruction. So I had a little ballot that was like Schoolhouse Rock. And for every state for the mail in I did a different animation for different people like rules and laws around what envelope you put it. So that was a major thing, Major, because people you know, you made a mistake. You only some states don't have a way to correct it, you know, so right. Everybody had to do it their own way. They have to do it, like 50 different ways, but it was really worth it. And I'm so glad we got to do that.
Mindy Cohn 13:33
Yeah, I'll say, yeah, outside of all the politicking. Um, what have you been bingeing on during this time? Or have you um,
there's this really good Korean drama show, which I only watch Korean dramas right now, what I started with a couple of years ago, I, I'm really like adapting this Korean drama for American television. So it'll be kind of like the first k drama that's come over for American TV and so but with Asian Americans, and so at that point, that was a few years ago, I started to really get into the world of K dramas. And they're so involving. And so right now I'm watching one called voice which they just started the fourth season, but there's three seasons. Two are on Netflix, this voice one and there's a Thai version that I haven't watched yet, but I'm going to, but it's about this woman who is has super sensitive hearing. And so when she says a 911 operator, and so she can hear what's happening in the background, and almost psychically locate where they are. It's so gory, like it goes far beyond any kind of American television, like how gory it is. It's kind of like, in a sense, it's almost like saw, you know, it's like a horror. Oh, wow. It's like that level.
Mindy Cohn 14:52
I was gonna say Sopranos but like, no, yeah,
no, it's so beyond the level of like crime that we're used to for a procedure. It's a procedural TV show because every episode is like, you know, a different thing that happens, but they're so gory and so visceral that ignites. I love a horror theme. Anyway, I'm a real horror queen. So that is like really appealing on so many levels. And so, but my favorite thing about the show is that every time anybody says something, she goes, whoa, whoa, whoa. Which means what did you say? Free hearing? anytime anybody says anything in front of you. You're like, what?
I literally want that to be the hashtag. I already see the T shirts. That's hilarious.
It's really good. So I really love I mean, I love k dramas, because I'm okay, learning Korean.
Mindy Cohn 15:46
I can find it on Netflix voice.
Netflix, voice one and two is on Netflix. And voice one, Thailand is on Netflix. And voice three is only on on demand Korea. And voice four is not out yet. So it's very, very good.
I'm gonna do a deep dive Margaret. Literally, I
mostly like dark dark web crime, which I think is really crazy. Cuz I'm like, it's not even real. Like, but I don't even know. Because I mean, I can't I always forget my passwords to everything. So I can't even imagine anybody would, how did you make it on the dark web? Like, I'm like, Oh, my God, aren't you gonna get a virus like it's like, so I don't even know how to use the computer. So it's very strange that anybody could do the dark web, but they do. And so I'm very,
Mindy Cohn 16:36
it's very interesting. As Christian as I am technically Amish, so I am truly fascinated by anything computer related, because I just think you're a genius anyway, to even start it.
Right? It is. Yeah. It's incredible. It's incredible.
Mindy Cohn 16:52
Yeah, and also really terrifying. To be quite frank.
It's very terrifying. And it's really I mean, it's like, Who knew that this was going to be the future? Like, I'm so bad at predicting, like, technology and what it can do. And you know, we're so lucky now that we have the internet because what if this was this 70s or, you know, even the 90s, it would have been just impossible to do any of the things we're doing now. So
Mindy Cohn 17:17
this is a great, a great a great, so do you have, which is really kind of the basis of like, Christian, I started this show, I have to ask, so do you have a creative process? How do you even define that? Do you not because you do so many different creative things? Well, oh, yeah.
Thank you. Thank you. Well, it's a life long journey. And I think that the creative life like an artist life is never apart from work, you know, because you're constantly inside of your work. You're constantly building your senses and your memory bank, and everything that happens is part of work. So it's never my creative life is not separate from my regular life. So right. Whenever if I've ever feeling blocked, I'll go into a different kind of creativity or cleaning something out. So that's a kind of, or I'll look for adoptable animals on the internet.
Mindy Cohn 18:15
I mean, I still
fantasy adoption, borderline
Mindy Cohn 18:19
obsessed. It's with your I call her a person. Because she's a person.
It's like a little she's a little person. She thinks she's, it's this is her interview right now, of course, and you know, she's being interviewed, she's gonna be so mad because in two weeks, I have two cats that are going to move in, and one is death. And the other one is her assistant, because she has to have her litter mate, guide her around, but she's, like, not used to being alone. And so she's gonna be so mad. But she's gonna love them.
Mindy Cohn 18:57
Yes, yes. We're telling you, you're going to love that.
I think she'll love them. Yeah, love them. So now that I've been spending a lot of time creating like cat environments, because I've never had cats. So I've been rescuing dogs for like, 30 years. So this is my first cat experience. So they're all different. They're very, very different. And they need different things. So I'm cat defying my life. Well, and you have gone into the deep dive into the deep end with this death who has been oh my gosh, it's a service cat. Yeah, to serve cats. But supposedly it's easier to have two than it is to have one. It's like dogs. It's easier to have two because their cats are also not exactly pack animals, but they do need a kind of a pack. So
Mindy Cohn 19:47
yeah. Oh, I don't know a lot about cats. I have to be honest. I am more of a dog person, whatever that means.
Don't mean Yeah. No, they're all wonderful.
Mindy Cohn 19:56
I just love them.
Mindy Cohn 19:57
So Margaret, I want to I want you to Talk a little bit about your trajectory because one of the reasons why I'm so besotted with you and have been is that there is this trajectory, you've gone on that where we're no medium is off limits. And it's not even a sense of reinvention, which I love. I don't like to use that term because I'm been here like, What do you mean? Yeah, but you, you seem to say it's that improv thing of you always saying? Yes. See? Yeah. Yeah. And you have to Yeah, I'm wondering how that's changed as you've gotten older. How do you find the business of show as you get older,
it's really expanded. You know, I think that it's gotten better actually, as I've gotten older, because when I was younger, it was so different. Also show business was different mean, you know, when, when we were starting, there was only like three networks. Yeah. You know, that. That took a long time to expand for
Mindy Cohn 20:57
Yeah, exactly. Oh, it was like it was like an earthquake.
Yeah. And then so now, there's so many places where you can work and so many different mediums you can work in and there's so many different things. I think they always need critical voices, comedic voices, everything needs to be heard and seen. And so I find it easier as I'm older to kind of be there for you know, and I'm learning more and like, I'm expanding my musical vocabulary. I learned to play the synthesizer, and I'm working with the mo grandmother, which is really hard to use to me. It's really I thought it was a piano but it's not it's like super weird. So now I feel like expansive musically and then. So now,
Mindy Cohn 21:42
what does that make for you is that like, instrument number nine or 10 or something?
Um, well, I play are cheap, because I play the guitar, the mandolin, the ukulele, the dulcimer, the mountain dulcimer. I play electric guitar, but they're all fakes. They're all six strings. So we're 12 strings. So they're not they all have a guitar neck, like I have a cello with a guitar neck. They're all fake. So it's like if you play one instrument, you can kind of fake your way through the entire catalogue of stringed instruments to be played guitar, you can figure out everything else. It all sort of works. It's like you really have the calluses. It'll work itself out. And the piano is my first instrument. So the piano is really the one that I know the best. And so that kind of leads you into, like, synthesizers, or the accordion. And none of these I play well, it's just to me like I can play them enough to hold a tune and sing with it.
Mindy Cohn 22:40
Well, why that's playing it. Okay. In my language
Christian Brescia 22:43
that's play well, to me.
Mindy Cohn 22:46
That's my language. Right? Yeah, it's
Mindy Cohn 22:49
It's fun. And again, not to blow smoke, but you also which is unusual. Have this gravitas? And do you have the desire to? To do drama? If the opportunities present themselves? I would hit it out of the park.
I would love to. I'm still waiting for like that kind of like Lifetime movie series. Like I would love what like Meredith Baxter. lifetime. You know, I would love to do this series. Movies are like, stone pillows. Do you see Lucille Ball in stone pillow where she's like, a woman who lives out on the street and it's like, I think it's like a TV movie.
Mindy Cohn 23:29
It was I think it was ABC TV movie. Exactly. Yeah.
I love that are like laced with BB Kate's what she's looking for her father.
Mindy Cohn 23:38
I've been loving references.
I love a mini series. Now they call it limited cinema tickets. Right? Exactly. Meryl Streep sent it like it's very, you know, but it was like the Thorn Birds or like Shogun, you know? Yes.
Mindy Cohn 23:52
Yes. Same. So I'm looking for my misery. I mean, I don't want to do misery but I would like to play a cycle.
That would be fun. You should do you know what we should do? We should do? a prison movie. Okay, so
Mindy Cohn 24:04
on my bucket list is I'd like to be in a horror movie where I die violently.
Christian Brescia 24:09
Oh, yeah. Yeah, I
Mindy Cohn 24:10
would love a violent death. Yeah,
Christian Brescia 24:11
I'm in the movies and movies.
Mindy Cohn 24:14
Yes, I am dying to do an all female Western. Oh, that's
a great idea.
Mindy Cohn 24:19
I love Blazing Saddles. I'd like it to be Oh, that's
a great idea. Yes.
Mindy Cohn 24:24
I love that. Now you have just added to the list of a women prison movie. Yes. Yeah. Yeah. Screw Orange is the New
period piece like 1950s Yeah, that would be really fun. Like a noir even like 40s would be really
Mindy Cohn 24:40
exciting. We might have to call john waters that.
I think so. Yeah, that's perfect.
Mindy Cohn 24:46
That would be perfect. Very good. Yeah, yes. So with 2021 here and all things considered things are we're on a definite positive project, you know, trajectory. There goes Again, are you wanting to go back on tour back on the road? Does that seem like you this time next year? a real possibility?
I hope so. I mean, I hope so. But I also want people to be safe. I feel like we've been fed so much misinformation from, you know, the orange thing and so much crazy racism and so much crazy violence. And, you know, like, I just think that it's really like, we've got to get through this virus first. And I'm so excited about the vaccine. I don't have it yet. But I want it so bad. So I just love any kind of injection. I know. It's weird. But I do love an injection. So I'm very excited. Yeah,
Mindy Cohn 25:47
I definitely am one of the in the camp of like, I'll get in line and I'm ready for it. Yeah, for sure. For sure. For sure. So, um,
what are the biggest lessons you've learned? I know, it's a really broad question. But I think that when you if you worry about like, I used to think that worrying was somehow a way to safeguard my future because that I've already been through the terrible thing that I think might happen. So I anticipate the terrible thing before it happens so that I can rehearsed. Let's say, yes, you realize that that doesn't actually work. Yes, you can't really prepare for pain, that pain is pain, because you don't expect it part of the painful experience is the unknown coming for you. And so the best thing to do is just assume the best and enjoy what you can. And I think that's the sort of a key to life and key to living is that there's no way to anticipate what's going to happen. And that's one of the beautiful things, but I always try to control it somehow, by imagining the worst. That's why I like horror movies, because it takes the dread for does the dread for me, so I can just sit back and relax. And just watch the death. I'm horrified. Yes, like, I just want to watch the death unfold so that I don't have to imagine it. Oh, my God.
Mindy Cohn 27:09
Yeah. Well, I have always reminded myself because I come from a family of worriers, um, to break the cycle, that worry is not an action verb. And, you know, I've had to really kind of like 12 step myself in that regard, and remind myself this is not doing anything. Absolutely, yes, I really appreciate that.
It's true, though. It's very much like a thing. Like, it's taken a lifetime to learn it. As I do. Like, I fall into these patterns of like, wanting to worry about things and thinking that's going to help but actually doesn't do anything.
Mindy Cohn 27:43
Are you a regret of the past? Are you really good about like, past his past, and I'm moving forward.
I think I've definitely gone through periods where I was every grettir. But now, I mean, I'm so happy where I'm at in my life, that everything that I've done has led up to this. So I try to focus on the joyful things that I have, because of all the decisions I made. So you know, that's, that's a really important thing. But yeah, I can definitely fall into the regret camp. It's not a good camp. It's like I'm not that I need to pull those tent poles up. Yeah. tent out of regret camp.
Mindy Cohn 28:17
Yeah. For me, I use them for like, acting stuff. Like I can bring up shame very quickly, like a little too quickly. Yeah, I learned not to live in it. Yeah. as I've gotten older,
so it's like you realize, too, that life is so brief, and so fragile, and we don't have that much time if you think about it. So it's good to just sort of like enjoy we have.
Mindy Cohn 28:41
Yes, well, I, for one cannot wait until I can purchase a ticket and go into a theater again. And see you live because it is it one of the best. And one of the joys of my life has been seeing you live I
have to say, Oh, that's amazing. When your shows on the guest list from now on forever more. Oh, well, geez.
Mindy Cohn 29:02
I mean, oh, my God, forget that. We like had this conversation that was worth everything.
You were there, I would have been so excited to just have would put you right in the front. I mean, you know, that would be the mall.
Mindy Cohn 29:12
I'm one of those people that just like, you know, I pay and I go, Yeah, what am I? Oh, my God, I adore you right back. And thank you so, so much for coming on, and gabbing with us. We just adore you.
I adore you.
Christian Brescia 29:28
Thank you. She's ready to wrap up the interview too. She's like, all right. She's ready. Yeah,
all I had to say I was thinking about you so much, because I shot a movie in October in Poughkeepsie, and I was like, eastland is right over there.
Mindy Cohn 29:39
Um, hello, right around the corner.
I know. Wow.
Mindy Cohn 29:47
Yeah. So funny. Yeah. You Margaret.
Christian Brescia 29:50
Thank you. Gentlemen. One more time. Let's give a big round of applause for our very special guest Barbara Cho.
Thank you, Lucci SS. Thank you. my gosh
Mindy Cohn 30:02
i'm obsessed with her
Christian Brescia 30:05
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