OFF BEAT

OFFBEAT: Margaret Cho in Chicago Saturday with 'Mother' comedy tour

Phil Potempa's daily entertainment news column
2013-10-16T00:00:00Z OFFBEAT: Margaret Cho in Chicago Saturday with 'Mother' comedy tourBy Philip Potempa philip.potempa@nwi.com, (219) 852-4327 nwitimes.com

The last time I caught the fantastically funny Margaret Cho for a live stage performance was in October 2010 at the Chicago Theatre for her stand-up comedy show "Cho Dependent."

On Saturday, she returns to the Chicago Theatre for one 8 p.m. show as part of her new tour this year called "Mother," launched in January 2013.

The "Mother" tour is billed as offering "an untraditional look at motherhood and how we look at maternal figures and strong women in culture." It's also billed as "probably her edgiest show to date, filled with riotous observations on race, drugs, sexuality, celebrity, culture and politics," and tagged as for "mature audiences only."

I'm told the cornerstone of her "Mother" tour revolves around Cho's long-suffering Korean mom (and a staple of her shows), Seung-Hoon Cho.

"It's great because I get to put a lot of emphasis on my own mother," Cho explained when she launched this tour earlier this year.

"My mother did not prepare me for the world. First, I was named the poetic Korean name 'moran' [for Margaret] which was perfect for the kids at school to call me 'moron' and set me up for a good quarter century of therapy. However, I can clean a fish with my bare hands. So there are pros and cons of being from an Asian immigrant family."

Next year will mark 20 years ago that comedienne Margaret found herself billed as a major marketing name for the ABC network.

In 1994, she was just 23 years old and hailed as the star of the new ABC sitcom "All-American Girl," which was welcomed as a sure hit for the 1994 fall season. She made entertainment history as the first Asian American to be the star of a sitcom.

But it was also an experience she almost didn't survive.

The show's producers told her that her face was too round and that she needed to lose weight, leading to a crash diet that took off 30 pounds, but also landed her in the hospital for kidney failure. They also hired a Korean woman to be an ethnic consultant to the show because the writers didn't trust Cho's opinions and advice. Cho said stereotypes became prevalent on the show and it was consequently canceled because of poor ratings.

Cho has openly discussed her personal story in her one-woman stage shows, especially her critically praised "I'm the One That I Want," which in 1999 became a best-selling autobiographical book of the same name.

And in 2010, she was cast to compete on "Dancing with the Stars," and I recall her telling me her parents were already big fans of the show. She also said her friend Kelly Osbourne, who had been on season nine of "Dancing with the Stars," encouraged her to do it.

Offstage and away from the spotlight, Cho's humor still shines through when interviewed, but her persona is much more subdued and her voice is soft and quiet.

But seeing her perform live is an audience comedy connection like none other.

Tickets are $29.50, $49.50, $59.50 (prices include $3.50 facility fee) and available at The Chicago Theatre box office, all Ticketmaster outlets or (800) 745-3000 or thechicagotheatre.com and ticketmaster.com or visit margaretcho.com.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at philip.potempa@nwi.com or (219) 852-4327.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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