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THE SUNDAY CONVERSATION

This is her life, sort of

August 24, 2008|Choire Sicha | Special to The Times

COMEDIAN Margaret Cho is back on TV. Her slightly scripted reality program "The Cho Show," costarring her parents and pals, premiered Thursday on VH1 and runs for seven episodes. P.S. She thinks it'll be back for a second season.

How's New York treating you?

Good! I've been here now for just two days and just done a ton of press and, you know, trying to promote the show. . . . I really want people to see it, I think it's really good.

I want the show to go on 'cause I think my parents, it gives them a whole new life, and they're older and we don't get to spend a lot of time together.

Did you have to berate them to come over?

They were suspicious! They thought I was going to punk them. They were worried the whole time, they kept getting scared. I don't know what they thought I was going to do. They were like, "What is reality show? What do we say?" . . . So what's good about the show is it is semi-scripted, all of the situations are scripted. . . . My parents are good improvisers! They're so great with dialogue. I think they should be in the next Christopher Guest movie.

The funny thing is -- you have a cast of assistants and hair people. It's reality -- in a sense.

It's reality in a sense that this is my life and these are my real friends and family and Selena Luna is my real assistant, my real best friends. So it's a sitcom starring real people. So things that happen are based in truth. Like the pilot where we go to the Korean of the Year award, my whole conflict with the Korean community. . . .

It was really a struggle -- am I going to accept this award from people who spit on me? What happened was, it's been 15 years and all the people who hated me died. So that's cool!

And all their kids really love me, because their kids saw me on TV and I was like the first Asian American person they saw and they were like, "There's other ones! There's other Asians!"

That's partly how progress happens.

You know this is why also it's amazing to me is you just work on something and you work on something and it happens.

Like with this gay marriage thing -- I've been working so hard on it for so many years and now I got deputized to perform gay weddings in San Francisco. And I could barely get through it -- I had such anger, such rage, about the fact that we had to fight for gay marriage, how dare they take away our humanity like that, how dare they not give us the same rights because we're gay, it makes me furious -- and then when you're doing the ceremony, at the end, instead of saying, "I now pronounce you man and wife," you say, "I now pronounce you spouses for life" and you're just crying. Because in that act of marrying gay people, you are returning to them their humanity.

For now!

Well, Equality California is doing such amazing stuff for marriage equality. I'm giving them a lot of money. That's what it's about.

You're a married person! [To Al Ridenour, an artist.]

That's why I believe in it so strongly. We need to make families. It's how life is, and how dare they deny us the right to family. It's insane and it's ludicrous and it's sickening. And this from those who proclaim to be Christians? What is Christlike about that? Not allowing families to -- and you say Christ would want that?

What did you decide to leave off-camera?

All the drug references. Because every other joke is a drug joke. I don't do drugs, but to me it's just funny to talk about doing drugs all the time.

But also you've talked about alcohol and drugs before, so when you do, sometimes -- it would make some of us nervous. Like, she's on the smack again!

I can't handle it. I'm such a grandma. When I go out I'm like, "Make me a Grey Goose and soda but make it weak like you're making it for a baby."

Are you doing stuff for this whole election thing?

I'm going to go to the Democratic National Convention. I'm going to attend the HRC [Human Rights Campaign] party. I'm there with Cyndi Lauper. . . . I'm really excited to see Barack Obama as the next president.

What if he gets elected and then he's suddenly, like, a total schmuck?

Even if it's all image -- you know, that whole campaign McCain put forth about how he's just a celebrity? Even if that's true, that's better than what we have now.

Denver's going to be like a full-on party, it sounds like.

I've been an Obama campaign surrogate for a while now. . . . I became an Obama campaign supporter because [the actor] Kal Penn [of "House"] promised me he'd give me an autographed photo of Hugh Laurie . . . because I was a Hillary person before. . . . The thing is, Kal Penn never got me that autographed picture of Hugh Laurie. And that was really painful.

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