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Margaret Cho on How Awkwafina and Bowen Yang Are Breaking the Mold for Asians in Comedy (Exclusive)

Margaret Cho drops by Comedy Central’s Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens as a caftan-wearing commune member who crosses paths with Nora (Awkwafina) within the closing two episodes of the season. For the veteran comic, boarding the sequence — which airs its closing episode of season 2 on Wednesday — was a no brainer. A lot of that needed to do with Awkwafina and the comedy’s spectacular ensemble, which incorporates BD Wong, Lori Tan Chinn and Saturday Night time Reside‘s Bowen Yang.

“It is simply so thrilling to see — and I’ve identified [Awkwafina] for a very long time — what she’s been capable of do in her work and create so many various, unbelievable characters. This one is mainly her story. So it is totally different from Shang-Chi or Loopy Wealthy Asians or The Farewell. Even her music. It’s extremely a lot very true to life, very humorous presentation of her as this iconic, struggling child. I used to be excited to be part of it,” Cho instructed ET, including that she’s properly conscious of how lengthy and arduous the journey has been to get to this place of discover for Asian American expertise, significantly within the comedy house.

“We needed to work so onerous to get seen as Asian People in comedy, and queer Asian People in comedy specifically. Particularly for me and Bowen and BD, that is a really massive deal. To be queer and Asian American is hard as a result of they’re very classically patriarchal cultures that do not settle for outsiders,” she stated. “Nora and Lori additionally slot in there with [having] totally different sorts of personalities, that we do not sit with nearly all of what Asian People would say would achieve success or appear like — these physician, scientist, engineer, lawyer professions that we’re frequently inspired to enter, which is the immigrant story. To have the ability to create a brand new lane and a brand new house for Asian People to develop into, it is actually highly effective.”

Forward of Wednesday’s finale, ET spoke with Cho — who subsequent stars within the anticipated romantic comedy Fireplace Island with Yang and Joel Kim Booster — about taking a web page out of her actual life to play her Nora From Queens character, why she believes Fireplace Island might be an necessary movie and her private want to turn into the Diahann Carroll of Asian American movie and TV.

ET: How are issues going in your finish? It appears you’ve got been maintaining fairly busy, particularly along with your newest function on Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens.

Margaret Cho: I like the present and it is actually thrilling. I like her and I like all people on it. Everyone I’ve labored with earlier than, apart from Lori Tan Chinn, who I simply actually met for the primary time, however I am a longtime fan of hers. BD and I, regardless that we’re not collectively within the episodes, we’re lengthy, lengthy, long-term pals. We have performed each relationship onscreen. After which Bowen and I simply did the film Fireplace Island, which he is superb in. And Nora’s such a [powerhouse].

Your character on Nora From Queens is sort of memorable. What excited you about taking part in a member of a cult-like society?

I like the world of it. I like any sort of various society feast. I like a caftan and jewellery made out of weed. To me, it is only a enjoyable function to play. I all the time put on caftans anyway, so it is applicable. I am lined in animal hair and I am very a lot a homesteader. I imply, I do not actually stay on a commune, however I want I type of did. To me, it is all very thrilling trend as a result of something that is sort of caftan- and lengthy shift-adjacent, that is my jam.

Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens

Awkwafina and Margaret Cho in Comedy Central’s ‘Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens.’

Zach Dilgard/Comedy Central

You share the display screen with Awkwafina in a number of scenes. Had been there any memorable moments from the set?

I like her and it is simply so thrilling to see — and I’ve identified her for a very long time — what she’s been capable of do in her work and create so many various, unbelievable characters. This one is mainly her story. So it is totally different from Shang-Chi or Loopy Wealthy Asians or The Farewell. Even her music. It’s extremely a lot very true to life, very humorous presentation of her as this iconic, struggling child. It is actually cool. I used to be excited to be part of it. And Lori Tan Chinn got here out to L.A. to hang around and so we received to speak about cats, and that is all the time my favourite. It is superb to be on this new era of Asian American tv and to have the ability to see the distinction. BD and I had been collectively in 1994, and it was so totally different and so onerous. And Lori even earlier than that. It was only a totally different [time]. So it is attention-grabbing to speak about all these instances with Lori and with Nora.

The solid is a humiliation of riches. You may have Awkwafina, BD Wong, Bowen Yang. Is there a sense of satisfaction being welcomed into the get together?

Completely. Everyone is so distinctive, and that is the story of us in leisure anyway. We needed to work so onerous to get seen as Asian People in comedy, and queer Asian People in comedy specifically. Particularly for me and Bowen and BD, that is a really massive deal. To be queer and Asian American is hard as a result of they’re very classically patriarchal cultures that do not settle for outsiders. So we’re entertainers and we’re additionally queer and simply totally different. I believe Nora and Lori additionally slot in there with [having] totally different sorts of personalities, that we do not sit with nearly all of what Asian People would say would achieve success or appear like — these physician, scientist, engineer, lawyer professions that we’re frequently inspired to enter, which is the immigrant story anyway. To have the ability to create a brand new lane and a brand new house for Asian People to develop into, it is actually highly effective. That is actually a part of what we signify. After which in comedy, too. That is such an necessary step as a result of comedy is such an American artwork kind, actually. It is usually an outsider’s artwork kind, too. That is the place we embrace each.

You talked about engaged on Fireplace Island. What do you consider Bowen’s rise and success, particularly lately? 

He is so proficient and he is so necessary to the legacy of Asian People in comedy as a result of he is like our golden youngster. However in a way, his presence, his writing type and his aura actually jogs my memory of anyone like Truman Capote. There’s one thing very erudite and stylish about his presentation that’s like Tennessee Williams or Truman Capote or James Baldwin. Truly, James Baldwin might be the closest approximation, I might say, as a result of it’s the queerness and the ethnicity that is offered with such unbelievable class and dignity that may be a mild. Which is without doubt one of the the explanation why I believe he garners a lot consideration, but in addition, it is a sort of sparkle and class that’s typically lacking from comedy and social commentary that we actually have such a deal with on, in so some ways. That is James Baldwin’s legacy. I actually assume very extremely of Bowen and I believe he is exceptional as a comic and as a pal. I am actually excited for him.

Akwafina Is Nora From Queens

Margaret Cho and Fortune Feimster in Comedy Central’s ‘Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens.’

Zach Dilgard/Comedy Central

What does it imply to have a characteristic movie starring two homosexual Asian males and directed by a homosexual Asian man?

It is superb. It was actually a particular mission and I like Joel [Kim Booster]. He is so imaginative and so considerate, but in addition so humorous. There’s so many issues in it that actually wanted the comedy. It is a romantic comedy and it is a summer season romantic comedy, however at identical time, it addresses so many problems with internalized racism throughout the homosexual group. That oftentimes, after we’re within the queer group, we won’t think about that we might be biased in any means. That we might be racist or discriminatory or sexist or misogynistic or any of these items. But they exist and thrive throughout the queer group as a result of a variety of instances, we won’t settle for intersectionality. The movie is de facto in regards to the nuance and depth of intersectionality and the way it impacts us who’re a multi-hyphenated, minority identification. It is a actually deep sociological research of who we’re and the way our identification suits in in different communities the place we’re additionally othered. It is truly actually deep, however it’s additionally actually humorous. And all people’s beautiful. It’s extremely intense, and Andrew [Ahn] is such a masterful director, and all people’s such an ideal addition to the story as a result of it is all of our totally different views on there. Being a queer lady with queer males who’re 30 years youthful than you, and all people had veins on their abdomen. Everyone additionally wore a Speedo for your entire shoot, so I used to be the one one consuming any sort of carbohydrates. However it was actually enjoyable and I actually liked the making of this movie. We’re so thrilled to carry it to audiences. It is simply actually unbelievable. I believe it will be a really iconic, necessary movie.

You had been additionally on Good Bother for a pair episodes, and with Nora From Queens and Fireplace Island, you are choosing impactful initiatives and reveals to be part of. What’s on the prime of the listing for you whenever you do say sure to one thing at this level in your profession?

Properly, all people’s my pal. With Good Bother, they’re all my pals and with Fireplace Island, they’re all my pals. I am hoping to be on each Asian American manufacturing and be a visitor star. Perhaps it is Anne Bancroft or Glenda Jackson. , the grand dame that they create in as their season nearer. (Laughs.) Hopefully that might be my legacy at any time when they’ve the Previous Hollywood star on Dynasty. My objective is that sort of Diahann Carroll place.

The season finale of Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens premieres Wednesday, Oct. 13 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Comedy Central. For extra, watch beneath.

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