Comedian Margaret Cho has never been afraid to tackle tough subjects. So naturally, her new Fresh Off the Bloat tour covers subjects like the #MeToo movement, the rise of Trumpism and Asian-American representation in entertainment, including her controversial ABC sitcom All-American Girl.
The challenge has changed, though. Thanks to social media and a never-ending news cycle, Cho says her difficulty isn't coming up with ways to talk about controversial topics — it's tough just to keep up with them.
"It changes on a daily basis because the way the world is now is so weird," Cho says. "You never know what's going to happen. So there's a continual sense of change, shift
Cho's latest tour lands Friday for a three-night run at the Addison Improv. It kicked off in August in Alabama. Cho says the starting gig there wasn't by design. Alabama has an active comedy community and she performs there often, just as she does in clubs and theaters all over the world. It helps cut to the meat of her comedy.
"It's actually a really fun place to play, and whether it's Huntsville, Alabama, or Kuala Lumpur, my shows are all about getting to the heart of what's happening," Cho says. "Comedy isn't about political affiliation or those kinds of beliefs. You want to be able to be funny to anybody."
Inclusiveness always makes for a better show, Cho says.
"It's always about including the audience and everything that's happening and changing with the news," she says. "It's a growing thing. Stand-up comedy is alive and always grows and changes, and you just incorporate what happened during the day. It's always important to know that it's a continual growth, and everything that happens, you're around for it. That's what I love about comedy. You can always change, always grow, always move around with it."
There's also something to be said about the unpredictability of an audience and rolling with people's reactions and feelings. Cho says it can become a key method for shaping a show.
"You don't ... always know what it's going to be, and I love that," she says. "That's what keeps me vital. You let the audience tell you where to go."
Of course, Cho has drawn a lot of comedy out of her personal experiences and her interactions with her family.
"That's always going to be part of what I do as a comic," Cho says. "It's important to include those origin stories ... . They laugh and think it's really funny. They're really amazed that I'm able to do what I do, and they're really supportive."
Cho says she also enjoys the interactions that only performing comedy can provide, no matter what she's talking about or what her audiences are thinking about as the news cycle continues to change.
"There's always a place to talk to the crowds and a place to talk about what's happening," she says. "You have to invent it every time. They're always unique, and it's always its own thing. There's no set way it's going to happen. There's no sense of where it should begin. It's always different."
Margaret Cho performs five shows through Sunday at the Addison Improv, 4980 Belt Line Road, No. 250. Find tickets at Ticketmaster.
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