Currently on tour with her new stand-up show There Is No 'I' In 'Team,' But There Is a 'Cho' In 'Psycho', comedian/actress Margaret Cho (Lifetime's Drop Dead Diva) is not only making audiences laugh with her onstage performances, she's offering support to victims of sexual abuse, an issue Cho can speak on from experience. "I am a rape victim and a survivor of childhood sexual abuse," she shared with followers on Twitter last month. Cho urges others to do the same by using the hashtag #tellyourstory.
Although she wasn't too interested in talking about the accusations of sexual improprieties against comedian Bill Cosby that have taken up the headlines in recent weeks, Cho, 45, spoke to the Current via phone about victim shaming and what she feels gives comedy value.
What can we expect from you with this new show?
Well, we're going through a very difficult time in society right now in that there is a lot of violence against women and issues that I feel are really important topics to address. So, my show is all about that.
You've always been vocal about social issues and have even shared your own story about abuse. Is it difficult to talk about something so personal?
You know, it's not something that ever feels personal to me because I talk about being a victim of childhood sexual abuse all the time. It's something I've always lived with. I'm encouraged to talk about it even more because it seems the tide is shifting where the people who are talking about their own experiences are not being blamed for it. We're starting to see a real change in the attitudes people have towards those who have been victimized. That is definitely a positive thing.
I know a lot of comedians pull inspiration from their own pain, but how do you find humor in something like sexual abuse?
Oh, that's the genius of it! There is humor in healing. There is a way to get through it. It's really important to acknowledge that we're powerful to rise above all of it.
Why do you think accusations of sexual abuse against someone like comedian Bill Cosby have been largely ignored until recently?
It's not really apparent to me why that is.
Do you think it's fair for him to stand trial in the court of public opinion?
I think it's more important that we as victims talk about what happened to us and find healing within ourselves and outside of the abusers and those doing the victimizing. That's more of my area. To me, it's about who these [victims] are and what they're going through. Assigning guilt isn't what I'm talking about. That's another issue.
Is there anything special you have to do to get ready to do a tour through a conservative state like Texas? I know you've been picketed here before.
I spend a lot of time in different parts of Texas. I've recorded an album there. There is a very conservative side, but there is also a really pioneering progressive side. My shows are always different and unique in that I cater them to wherever I am.
You'll be here in San Antonio on your birthday, December 5. Is there anything you want?
You know, I'm usually working on my birthday and I really don't celebrate it. I don't make a big deal out of it. (Laughs) When you've had a lot of them, they sort of don't mean that much anymore, unfortunately. I'm not really that big on cake.
Your show Drop Dead Diva ended this past June after six seasons on the air. Have you had any withdrawals over the last few months?
Yeah, for sure. It's a show that I love. We were all a family. I was close to all the people who were in it. It was a big part of my life and my development. We totally miss each other.
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