Often, the issues Margaret Cho jokes about are those she takes most seriously. As a comedian, actress and singer-songwriter, she has discussed race, sexuality, femininity and violence against women in her work, which often pushes boundaries and flirts with the taboo.
But offstage, Cho has become known as an advocate for causes far and wide such as anti-bullying, anti-racism, homeless and LGBTQ rights.
Her advocacy work has been recognized by the ACLU of Southern California, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the National Organization for Women and the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund.
Now, the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada, often just referred to as The Center, will honor Cho Saturday during its annual fundraiser, the Honorarium, as its “Qmmunity Advocate of the Year.” The benefit will be at The Chelsea at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. Cho will perform a stand-up comedy set that night as well.
“She’s been known to break down stereotypes and has been known in her performances and what she does to bring people together in understanding one another and hence fosters an appreciation for the LGBTQ community,” The Center’s CEO Michael Dimengo says.
The occasion is also another excuse for Cho to eat at the Vegas hotels’ various employee cafeterias, a habit she picked up early in her Vegas career.
The comedian has played in Las Vegas numerous times over the years, but the cafeterias are usually one of her only chances to get a taste of Vegas, because she doesn’t usually have time to see any shows or eat at any of the Strip’s restaurants.
“My favorite place to eat is the employee cafeteria at every hotel,” Cho says. “It’s so great, because then you get all kinds of food that comes in from all of the different kitchens.”
Cho herself is bisexual, an identity she’s embraced as long as she’s been in the public eye, partially because of her upbringing in San Francisco.
“People really specifically defined themselves and in the ’80s and the ’90s, this was a very big deal, you would kind of come out as who you were,” Cho says. “I don’t know, it’s a very kind of San Francisco way to look at life, to define by your sexual orientation before you do anything else. I just felt very comfortable doing that, being from where I’m from.”
There was no closet to come out of, either to her family and friends or to her fans. Sexuality, as well as issues such as race, were always present in her material.
Cho never consciously started using social issues as comedy, and she doesn’t see an end either — no matter what the topic. In fact, Cho says she places no restrictions on her material.
“If it’s a good joke, it could be about anything.”
What: Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada’s annual Honorarium
When: 5 p.m. Saturday
Where: The Chelsea at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, 3708 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Tickets: $350 for individual tickets, group tickets available (http://www.thecenterlv.org/honorarium)