Five Reasons To Go See Margaret Cho This Week in San Francisco

Margaret Cho performs Thursday, Oct. 15 at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco. (Kyle Christy)

So, this is my favorite kind of homecoming: Comedian, actress and San Francisco native Margaret Cho will hit the Castro Theatre this Thursday, Oct. 15 as part of her PsyCHO standup tour.

I shouldn't need to give you a rundown of Cho's extensive résumé -- first Asian-American to have her own network television show, first comedian to appear as a feminized version of Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un at the Golden Globes while sandwiched between Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, yadda yadda yadda.

But in recent years, I've come to appreciate Cho as much for her activism and outspoken, take-no-prisoners approach to political issues as for her comedy. Here are five times I fell just a little bit more in love.

Her "Be Robin" campaign to help the homeless raised nearly $20,000 in less than two weeks. In the days leading up to Christmas last year, Cho began alerting fans on social media that she would be appearing on various street corners in San Francisco, singing songs with a homegrown band (in one case featuring another of our favorite San Franciscans, Hüsker Dü and Sugar's Bob Mould). Channeling Robin Williams, a friend, mentor, and the man she's called a "father figure," Cho raised more than $2000 at each of nine events, and distributed untold numbers of coats, socks, toiletries, canned goods and other basic necessities to folks living on the city's streets.

Here's her talking about how that honors Williams' legacy:

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She's been speaking her mind on a woman's right to choose for decades. "I talk a lot about abortion and people get really freaked out. I’m not even making a political statement. I’m just talking about what happened! I have had them and I want to talk about them. I don’t care what your views are toward abortion, I just think women should be talking about it," Cho recently told XO Jane. "Gloria Steinem had a really important essay about how if men menstruated, they would talk about it all the time. So I am trying to treat abortion in the same way."

She shuts down haters like nobody's business. As you can imagine, being a not-white, not-skinny, not-heterosexual woman who talks frankly about each of those identities has earned Cho some detractors over the course of her nearly three decades in show biz. Never one to change her image to appease others, Cho actually has some of the most adept social media responses to idiots that you're going to see in the entertainment industry.

In a recent interview with the Huffington Post, she explained why it no longer bothers her when trolls attack her looks.

https://www.facebook.com/HuffingtonPost/videos/10153392444871130/

 

She has a born-and-raised San Franciscan's view of what's "freaky." When I interviewed her in 2013, she mentioned that her views on sexuality were a direct result of growing up in the city, surrounded by beautiful weirdos.

"In the late '80s I worked for a store called Stormy Leather on Howard Street, with people like Susie Bright and Carol Queen coming through all the time. And then there was the leather community, play parties, the bear community," she said.

"I was becoming an adult at a time when people were talking openly about sexuality and about non-monogamy as the norm, expanding ideas about what sex could be. So I had a very San Francisco view of sexuality. It is weird in some ways that I wound up in Los Angeles, because at the time it was like 'Oh, I'm gonna be a Potrero Hill swinger.' I guess when you come of age in San Francisco during a time period where sexuality is being talked about in this way — there are things other people find freaky to talk about that I just find pretty commonplace."

She's never afraid to branch out. Since the late aughts, Cho has been writing and performing music, including the full-length Cho Dependent in 2010. Her whole catalog's worth a trip down the rabbit hole, but this gem in particular, released shortly after Lil Wayne went to prison, will never not make me laugh. Join me?

Margaret Cho performs Thursday, Oct. 15 at the Castro Theatre. Details and tickets here.

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