Margaret Cho has been a lot of things in her career.
For an entire generation, she was the first exposure to an Asian comedic actress in the mid-1990s ABC sitcom “All-American Girl.”
In addition to various acting roles that followed, she has dabbled in music, fashion, burlesque dancing and is a long-time advocate for LGBTQ rights.
But in all of these endeavors — and especially as a veteran stand-up comedian — Cho has been anything but middle-of-the-road.
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“I don’t do anything halfway,” the 49-year-old comedian said. “I have to do everything all the way, all the time.”
In her 35 years as a comedian — she says she started doing stand-up at age 14 or 15 — and successes including numerous stand-up specials and stage performances, Cho has rarely held anything back, politically or personally. As a die-hard liberal, she often jokes about social issues and frequently takes aim at conservative public figures while incorporating elements of her personal life into her shows, whether she discusses her own bi-sexuality and sexual proclivities (in a graphic fashion that would make her personal idol Joan Rivers proud) or growing up as a Korean-American immigrant in San Francisco in her parents’ bookstore (which often includes an impersonation of her mother that’s become a popular staple of her act).
She also admits that for a long time, she also didn’t hold anything back when it came to her alcoholism and substance abuse on the road.
Her latest stand-up offering is titled “Fresh Off The Bloat,” and it comes after a year-long stint in recovery that has Cho feeling reinvigorated, but no less edgy.
“I basically spent a decade trying not to throw up. It’s not glamorous. It’s not fun,” she said. “Not having those barriers in the way, I feel like I can be a lot better at it.”
Cho’s material certainly reflects the political times and her personal connection to today’s times.
As a survivor of sexual assault, she focuses on the #MeToo movement while also reflecting. But the material merely serves as an expansion of Cho’s emphasis on sexuality, feminism and body positivity.
Cho also touches on the surreality of having President Donald Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un making frequent appearances in the media. She remembers her church raising money for food drops in North Korea as a kid, and her feelings about the current President have caused her reexamine her 2005 special “Assassin,” with material that tore into then-President George W. Bush.
“I think he was actually a pretty good president. We had it good,” she jokes. “I really apologize to the Bush administration.”
This may be one of the rare instances that Cho apologizes for anything. As she prepares to come to Lexington to perform at Comedy Off Broadway Thursday through Saturday, she still relishes everything about stand-up comedy: the art form, the lifestyle and remaining relevant by creating material that is frequently current and oftentimes crossing the line.
“You have to put in a lot of effort to stay up on what is funny and what is going to be special and what is going to be different and what is the right thing to do,” she said. “You get that challenge and that’s what comedy is all about. You get to challenge yourself and you get to challenge the audience.”
IF YOU GO
What: Fresh Off The Bloat Tour
When: 7:15 p.m. July 12, 7:15 and 9:45 p.m. July 13 and 14
Where: Comedy Off Broadway 161 Lexington Green Circle