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Mother of the Planet

Margaret Cho on Stand-up, Mother, and Playing Kim Jong-il



COMEDIAN MARGARET CHO is at Helium this weekend, here for two nights only with her new show Mother. We caught up with her to find out more about the show and the eight million other things she's working on these days.

MERCURY: What should we expect from Mother?

MARGARET CHO: It's really just a bunch of new jokes. It's super dirty and filthy and raunchy, so I thought it'd be funny to have a show like that that's called Mother. But at the same time, you do have to have sex to be a mother.... And even though I'm not a mother, I think it would be kind of cool to be, like, a mother to the world. When you get to your 40s, it's an assumption that you have kids, or people assume that's what you would want or that's what your life is. I'd like to think of myself as a mother to the planet. Some of the show also deals with being bullied. I had that, I want to help people going through it now.

In addition to your role on Lifetime's Drop Dead Diva, you've also got a show coming out on the Food Network, right?

It's called Blind Dinner Party, and it's basically inviting eight strangers off of Craigslist to get together and have dinner. They're people of varying political affiliations and personalities, these completely unique individuals and they come together in a bit of a social experiment mixed with Fight Club. We made the pilot and it came out beautifully. It will be out soon, and I'm hoping it gets picked up. I'd love to do more.

You were recently nominated for an Emmy for your portrayal of Kim Jong-il on 30 Rock. What were your first words when Tina Fey offered you that role?

My first words... I was so excited, it was something like, "Absolutely, I have to do that!" It was tough because I was working on [Drop Dead Diva] at the same time in Atlanta, and had to balance the two. I loved that I got to play a man, and do something totally different from anything I'd ever done... but also very familiar.

It seems like you've built your career on taking challenging roles, or doing things that otherwise break the mold. You've done so much to help show people—not just fellow performers, but fans as well—that it's possible to be successful outside the mainstream. It seems like that could be exhausting.

Thank you. You know, I really don't think about it. I take jobs when I can take them, I do as many jobs as I can, and I do my best. It's a joyful way to live. My work is all about seeing my friends and working with my friends. It's the life that I've chosen and I love it. It always feels fun, doesn't feel hard. It can be tiring, but challenging and rewarding. I do love stand-up the most. It has the most excitement. I love going on the road and touring and doing comedy. It doesn't require me going to get a job—I already have that job and it'll take me all over the world. I really adore that.


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