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Cho brings ferocious take on politics and fashion to MIT

Margaret Cho
Margaret Cho

Margaret Cho--stand-up comic, Asian-American sitcom celeb, gay rights activist and California resident--is not, not, not running for governor of California.

Emphasizing points in a recent interview by raising her voice at key words and lacing her speech with profanities, Cho declared the recall and race in her home state "the stupidest, stupidest thing, a freak show starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. Thank God for Al Franken and people who are telling the truth."

Cho will bring "Revolution," her third sold-out national comedy tour, to Kresge Auditorium at 8 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 3. Child care will be available beginning at 7:30 p.m. For more information, see

The performance will be filmed for possible inclusion in Cho's new feature film, "Behind the Revolution." Cho swears she won't edit anything.

Cho, 34, has fashioned a bright career of truth-telling, particularly about her experiences as a "larger-than-size-10 Korean-American woman. Her national comedy tours include an off-Broadway show, "I'm the One That I Want" (1999)--now a best-seller in book, video and DVD form--and "Notorious C.H.O." (2001).

Speaking by phone from an office in Los Angeles, Cho said, "I just speak my truth in my act. I am who I am. The humor in my new show is very political; it's about being honest with yourself about the ways your life interacts with politics. Like, if I were to be governor, the first thing I'd do is get rid of the ban on same-sex marriage."

Cho starred as Margaret Kim in "All-American Girl," ABC-TV's culture-clash comedy about an assimilated Korean-American girl and her tradition-bound mother. The sitcom lasted six months, ending in 1995. Cause of death? Fear of being "too ethnic," said Cho. "It got so watered down for television that it was completely lacking in the essence of what I am and what I do."

Cho's solo performances reflect not only today's gaffe- and greed-strewn American political landscape, she said. Her jokes and jaunty profanity also look back to her childhood.

"My parents are so supportive. But Korean culture is very puritanical, not interested in the details of women's sex lives. The reactive thing is for me to be lewd and raunchy. Besides, it's fun to play with tradition," she said.

Between performances of "Revolution," Cho is going beyond traditional venues into the hip-hop space--rap music and fashion design. The rap project is called "MCMC," an album of songs on the general topic of health care, including hospitals, emergency rooms and the food pyramid.

"I'm the worst rapper. But I've experienced a lot of different kinds of healing. This is about me trying to be a gangsta rapper and about how the only access to health care in poor urban communities is the emergency room," said Cho.

"High-Class Cho," her online fashion enterprise, arose "because nothing fits. High-end clothing is prohibitively expensive. We wanted something compassionate and realistic for sizes 10 to 22," said Cho. Her current favorites include M.C. Hammer pants (a variant of the harem style) and clogs.

Reminded that her MIT audience will include many students interested in medicine and medical research, Cho was delighted and direct.

"I went to nursing school. We got the oldest cadavers ever. I lasted six months. I couldn't deal. My advice? Be respectful of the fact the doctor isn't the only healer. It's a village of healing.

"By the way--if I were governor, I'd have [singer] Ani DiFranco as my running mate. And I'd pour money into education and health care," Cho said.

Cho's MIT performance is part of Fall Festival, a series of events for the MIT community sponsored by the Fall Festival Student Committee, Student Life Programs and the Office of the Dean for Student Life.

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