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Comedian Margaret Cho coming to Fargo this weekend

FARGO - Margaret Cho hates doing laundry when she's on tour. So don't be surprised if you see her shopping for clothes while she's in Fargo this weekend. "I'm much too cheap to actually send it out in the hotel. So I suffer with dirty clothes, an...

Comedian Margaret Cho brings her "Mother" tour to the Fargo Theatre
Comedian Margaret Cho brings her "Mother" tour to the Fargo Theatre on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013. Austin Young / Special to The Forum

FARGO - Margaret Cho hates doing laundry when she's on tour.

So don't be surprised if you see her shopping for clothes while she's in Fargo this weekend.

"I'm much too cheap to actually send it out in the hotel. So I suffer with dirty clothes, and I kind of question, 'When is this going to get washed?' That's what I hate," she says.

But the 44-year-old comedian loves being on the road.

Cho has a number of titles - comedian, actress, author, singer-songwriter, fashion designer - but she's most comfortable with comedian.

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"I feel like that's the most appropriate for me, and easy, and enjoyable. It's the identity that I've been the longest, and I do really appreciate that," she says.

The Korean-American grew up in San Francisco and started touring college campuses in the early '90s. She's since done network, cable and reality TV, as well as published two books.

The Grammy- and Emmy-nominated Cho chatted with The Forum during a break from her new tour, "Mother," from her Los Angeles home.

Q: Why is your new tour called "Mother"?

A: It's about my mother, but also the idea of being older and going from being the ingénue to being more of a force of nature, of being a mother - not a mom, necessarily (I don't have kids) - but I want to be in that role where everybody's sort of thinking of you as a mom, which I think people do, in that I've been around comedy for such a long time, so I'm around people that are younger than me.

It's also about the mastery of something, to "own" something, to create something, to be the "source" of things.

Q: Why do you think your impressions of your own mother are so popular?

A: It's the voice of my "Asian-ness," the voice of the immigrant in me, the outsider.

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People understand it. They enjoy it because it's very honest and real, but it's really funny, too.

Q: Has your mom seen your new show?

A: She's seen different incarnations of it over the years, but she hasn't seen this particular tread in the last few months that I've been doing it, but she's very excited about it.

It's a thrilling thing for her because a lot of times women become invisible as they get older, and here she is now in the spotlight, which is very cool.

Q: How do you come up with new material?

A: I think it's constant; you're constantly writing and creating. It's about just paying attention to things that happen and recording them, which is much easier when you have an iPhone.

Q: Does being a comedian make you more observant?

A: I think so. You become observant of your own life and what's going on around you and just trying to figure it out, whatever it is. It's a wonderful thing, to live life fully, being a comedian, watching everything.

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Q: A lot of your material comes from your identities - female, Asian-American, bisexual. Does your perspective allow you to make jokes that others couldn't?

A: Yeah, I think so, because I'm talking about it from within those identities. All of these things that I am are great to talk about, but it's not like I'm looking at some group and commenting about it; I'm talking about my own experiences.

Q: You've talked about your struggles with addiction and body image. What has helped you overcome those issues?

A: I think age, ultimately, helped me overcome all of the problems that I had when I had a lot of self-doubt.

You come to appreciate that you've been around for a long time and that that's a good thing.

Q: Has being open about it help you deal with it?

A: It's good to talk about it. To me, it's been very enriching, and it's a gift to be able to talk about these things, but also, people really appreciate it, too, because they can feel like they're not alone in their own struggles.

Q: In your comedy special "Beautiful," you talked about declaring your own beauty. How did you get there?

A: I realized that it's just as valuable to say it about yourself as it is for someone to say it about you.

We long to be beautiful, and we wait for someone to tell us we are, but truly, you can just say it about yourself, and it's just as true, it's just as meaningful; so I wanted to let people in on that.

Q: You didn't start getting tattoos until you were 35. Why did the interest develop then?

A: I always knew that I was going to get it done, I just never had time. I was so devoted to my work and everything, I never took the time out to actually go and get it done. But I always had a plan to.

Q: You define yourself as "queer." What does that mean to you?

A: My sexuality is defined in a lot of different ways. I'm considered bisexual, but I think it goes beyond male and female. Queer is a good term for that.

Queer is also a term for when your sexuality becomes a political issue. I'm aligning myself with a lot of the political stuff that I grew up around. We used the term queer, and we claimed it from being a slur to being a term of empowerment.

Q: What's it like to talk about your sex life on stage?

A: It doesn't really intrude on the privacy or intimacy of it because it's different elements, different aspects of it, that, to me, aren't necessarily private or secretive or furtive or anything that I feel like has to be hidden.

Q: What are some of the challenges you've faced as a female comedian?

A: There's just not as many women in comedy ... Men in comedy are very, very supportive of each other, but we don't have that same network because we don't have as many members; it's hard.

Q: Do you count other female comedians among your friends?

A: Yes, but we never get to see each other because we're always working.

Q: Who are your role models or mentors?

A: Joan Rivers. I think she's a really great mentor, and a really great comedian and a teacher, just a mother figure to me.

Whoopi Goldberg is another one whom I really admire. There's a lot of people that I love.

If you go

What: Comedian Margaret Cho's "Mother" tour

When: The mature-audiences-only show starts at 8 p.m. Saturday; doors open at 7.

Where: Fargo Theatre, 314 Broadway

Info: Tickets cost $35 and are available at JadePresents.com, the Tickets300 box office at 300 Broadway between noon and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, or by calling (866) 300-8300.

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