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Lions Roar : September 2013
PHOTOBYCHADBATKA/CORBIS ARGARET CHO IS TERI in Lifetime’s hit show Drop Dead Diva; she’s a vaudevillian burlesque dancer who sambaed and waltzed for Dancing with the Stars; she’s a longtime anti-racist, anti-bullying, and gay rights activist. And then there’s her main gig: side-splitting and boundary-pushing stand-up comedy. Her latest show, Mother, takes an untraditional look at motherhood and explores Cho’s sexuality. She says being bisexual is an odd experience: there’s really no rep- resentation of it in the media, so she has to make it up as she goes along. “Nothing is sacred,” Cho has quipped about her show, “least of all this Mother.” Despite the raunchy streak, Cho’s comedy is at heart about compassion. I became interested in interviewing her when I came across her blog post on tonglen, a Buddhist meditation practice that involves breathing in the suffering of others and breathing out compassion and peace. As she describes it, “You’re like an air conditioning filter for the pain and suffering on Earth.” What was it like growing up as a first-generation Korean American? What’s really beautiful, what’s really funny, and what does it take to be a good actor? These are some of the questions Cho tackled in our interview. — A NDREA MILLER Like most women—maybe most people—you’ve struggled with your body image. Have you reached some peace with that? I have not reached any peace with that, although now I’m beyond caring, which is maybe peace. I am so sick of thinking about it. There are so many other things that I would rather do than worry about my size. You get bored after forty-whatever years of fretting. You get, like, I’ve got to stop worrying about this because there’s no solution. How would you define true beauty? I think it’s peace or tranquility, and also compassion and kind- ness. It’s being real or authentic. Laughing is an expression of beauty because it can’t be faked. Something is funny when it’s deeply truthful. The funniest thing is a deep truth that is undeniable. Have you always been funny? I don’t know, but when I saw that people did comedy and that it was a job, I realized that it would be my job. I just knew that that was what I was supposed to do. How did you get into it? I started doing comedy when I was about fourteen. I had a teacher who encouraged me, who saw something in me, and she signed me up for sets at comedy clubs. And then I just kept going. I was in a rush to be an adult. I did not enjoy that period The Funniest Thing Is a Deep Truth M Q&A MARGARET CHO SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2013 21