Quick Q&A With Margaret Cho

On May 31, she headlines the Limestone Comedy Festival at Bloomington’s Buskirk-Chumley Theater. We chatted with Cho before the show.
You’re an icon in the LGBT community and aren’t shy about sharing your liberal views. What’s it like playing a hardcore Red State like Indiana?
I feel like everywhere you go, your main job is to be an entertainer, and that means being able to appeal to different kinds of people. There’s no jurisdiction on humor, and no real bias. Everybody laughs for pretty much the same reasons. Also, my ex’s family is from Evansville, so I’ve spent a lot of time in the area on my own. It’s a place I can definitely vibe with, though not for the reasons you might expect. I’m a fat person and a fat-acceptance advocate, so we all come together when it comes to fat.

What role does humor play in a moment as politically divided as the current one?
Well, in a lot of ways, a sense of humor is really about optimism and finding joy in things that might not seem that joyous. For example, I’m excited about the #MeToo movement. There are good things happening as a result of everything that’s going on.

You’ve struggled rather publicly with alcoholism and depression. How has comedy helped with your own tough times?
It helps to have an outlet. Comedy is incredibly cathartic. In this profession, you see a lot of people like me with depression, anxiety, and other dark stuff. But at the same time, we have a means of coping with it on stage.

Is there any subject you won’t tackle?
Everything’s fair game, but you need to have the skill to do it well. It’s harder now in this culture of outrage. Some people just love to get mad about stuff. And with social media being what it is, a joke can blow up in your face pretty easily.

When you go to clubs, how do you have fun now that you’ve given up alcohol?
Well, it’s not like I was ever having fun getting loaded. My relationship to drinking had nothing to do with having a good time. So going out is actually a lot more fun these days. I guess I’m lucky that way.