Margaret Cho was born Dec. 5, 1968 and raised in San Francisco. “It was different than any other place on Earth,” she says. “I grew up and went to grammar school on Haight Street during the ’70s. There were old hippies, ex-druggies, burnouts, drag queens, and Chinese people. To say it was a melting pot – that’s the least of it. It was a really confusing, enlightening, wonderful time.”
Ignoring the traditions of her patriarchal culture, her mother bravely resisted an arranged marriage in Korea and married Margaret’s father a Korean joke book writer. “Books like 1001 Jokes for Public Speakers – real corny stuff,” Cho says. “I guess we’re in the same line of work. But we don’t understand each other that way. I don’t understand why the things he says are funny and the same for him.”
What Margaret did know is that being a kid was hard. Racing toward adulthood as fast as she could to escape the constant bullying she endured, Margaret began writing jokes at 14 and professionally performing at age 16. Getting picked on, and not having a feeling of belonging, is a subject that’s not only near to Margaret’s heart, but something she still feels very deeply despite all of her successes. In that sense, Margaret has gladly and graciously become the “Patron Saint for Outsiders,” speaking for those who are not able to speak for themselves, and encouraging people who can to use their voice to promote change.
Soon after starting her Stand Up career, Margaret won a comedy contest where first prize was opening for Jerry Seinfeld. She moved to Los Angeles in the early ’90s and, still in her early twenties, hit the college circuit, where she immediately became the most booked act in the market and garnered a nomination for “Campus Comedian of The Year.” She performed over 300 concerts within two years. Arsenio Hall introduced her to late night audiences, Bob Hope put her on a prime time special and, seemingly overnight, Margaret Cho became a national celebrity.