Margaret Cho Channels Bette Midler on New Album, Tour

Margaret Cho Channels Bette Midler on New Album, Tour
Lindsey Byrnes

Just yesterday, comedian Margaret Cho released Cho Dependent, a 13-track album of songs featuring well-known songwriters like Ben Lee, Patty Griffin, Jon Brion, Fiona Apple, Grant Lee Phillips and Ani DiFranco. But before you go and think Cho is leaving stand-up, take a look at some of the song titles: "Your Dick," Eat Shit and Die," "Captain Cameltoe" and "My Puss" should allay all fears that Cho has softened. And what a voice! It took encouragement from her good friend Cyndi Lauper to convince Cho she should take a crack at music, even though she'd grown up in San Francisco with musician parents.

Art Attack spoke over the phone with a surprisingly subdued Cho, who was in Provincetown, Massachusetts honing her stand-up act for an upcoming tour (she hits Houston's House of Blues September 10).

Cho was just getting over some Cape Cod weather-and-allergy-induced laryngitis.

"I'm working. I'm hanging out in Provincetown, which is one of my favorite places in the world. I'm having a good time, but it's my last day here. I've been here for about a week and a half working on my new show, and I'm really excited to get out there and do it up."

Cho is currently on hiatus from the Lifetime series Drop Dead Diva, which shoots in Peachtree, Georgia (just outside Atlanta). She plays Teri Lee, legal assistant to Jane Bingham, whose body has been taken over by another woman.

"We're [the cast] all such good friends. The greatest thing about it is that we have become very close, because we all live in California, and when we go [to Georgia], we're just working with each other, and it's a different thing. I love those guys and I love the show. We go out to restaurants and wreak havoc."

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On the new record:

"Everyone on there I'm really excited about. Everyone on there is something special and really important to me. I loved making this record, and I'm so proud and so happy with the way it turned out. Everyone's contribution is incredible. People like Grant Lee Phillips and John Brion and Ani DiFranco I'd known before, and then other people really wanted to be involved along the way like Fiona Apple. I asked Andrew to be in it. Everyone had a really funny side and a really great sense of humor. And a lot of the people I went through the [recording] process with were surprisingly big comedy fans and really funny people. People you would think are so serious like Andrew Bird--he's really hilariously funny. The video we made together is really funny. There's so much that I got to uncover--different sides of people that I didn't know about."

Margaret Cho Channels Bette Midler on New Album, Tour

"I think a lot about Bette Midler, who is a major influence on me and a major person I was thinking about when I was making the record. Her collaboration with Mick Jagger, "Beast of Burden"--to me it always seemed like a comedy thing, it was a great, adept comedy record. So she's always someone I've looked to as an inspiring figure and somebody who really has a lot behind what I'm doing on this record."

But don't expect a concert.

"A lot of this [process] was writing a whole new standup show around [the record]. It's going to be mostly stand-up anyway, because that's where I feel comfortable and it's what I do. It's always going to be a stand-up show, but with three or four songs."

 

Margaret Cho Channels Bette Midler on New Album, Tour
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Cho's no stranger to Houston.

"I used to go there a lot when I was younger, because I used to date a comedian who lived there. I spent a lot of time around the Houston comedy scene, and I really love it. This time I'll be there with Tegan and Sara, and we'll be filming our video for our song "Intervention." They have a show at the exact same time, so we can't perform together, but we're going to shoot during the day."

While Cho will be on the lookout for a good "Bear Bar" while she's in Houston, she won't be in the market for a tattoo.

I think I'll stop for a little bit, because I don't have enough space. It's hard to get them when you don't know where they go. I have so many now. I actually had a weekend with my tattoo artist, like two weeks ago, and we were discussing, like, where is this going to go? You just try to find space, because you know, you run out. The last thing I got was a lover's eye, which is a Victorian kind of jewelry, similar to Victorian mourning jewelry, but it's a little more obscure. And I have that on my right arm.


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