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Cho's the One Winstar Wants

31 Aug, 2001 By: Holly J. Wagner

Just as comedienne Margaret Cho is hitting the road for her new standup tour, the Winstar Home Video release of her last show, I'm the One That I Want, is hitting the streets.

The title is appropriate for a 96-minute comedy rap that could just as easily have been called "Margaret, Through the Rehab Looking Glass." Attaining sobriety is, after all, a lot about introspection, but noteveryone is comfortable baring their former bad behavior to his or herparents, much less live audiences of 2,000 or more people in 37 cities.

In I'm the One That I Want, Cho does both — to roars of laughter from herhometown audience in San Francisco.

“I hope they can feel less alone by seeing the hideous situations I go through,” Cho says, though she is not trying to nudge anyone else toward recovery. “If that happens that's great, but it's more just to be honestand talk about how my life is now and how I got where I am.”

Fans get a chance to share Cho's journey, from growing up on the infamous Haight Street in the 1970s (“I was raised by drag queens,” shedeclares) to a rising comedy career and the self-destructive pressure of trying to make it in a Hollywood that tried to repackage her as a perfect, skinny white girl for a sitcom, “All American Girl” (“It really turned out like ‘Saved By the Gong,’ she quips).

The thing that makes it work as comedy instead of an on-stage AA meeting is that, while so many of her admissions have the ring of truth, she manages to share what she's learned with self-deprecating humor thatstrikes a chord with anyone who has ever felt out of place or inadequate to life's demands. Along the way, Cho says, she learned to cut herself some slack.

“I don't think I have goals that are as solid as they used to be. I have moved farther away from the material world,” she says, noting how her former ambition often conflicted with her heart. “I want connections and I want to be happy. I want to live my life with an open heart, whichis really about listening to people and not getting caught up in all the weird stuff going on around you.

“I'm hoping that what I am doing now is so outside of Hollywood and outside of that industry. I do my shows and my writing,” she says, though “I would like to do a documentary of the performances, to capturesome of the images and the people that I meet and all of the adventures that I have along the way. Not just the performance.”

Maybe she will get her chance. Cho just hit the road for the new tour (launched Aug. 28), which features all-new material.

“Since I'm promoting the tour too, I am doing that [promoting the video]simultaneously,” she says.For its part, Winstar is backing the release (prebook Sept. 11, street Oct. 9, VHS $14.98, DVD $19.98) with “aggressive” co-op support, exposure from an as-yet-unnamed national chain and post-release ads innational entertainment magazines, says Dan Gurlitz, v.p. and generalmanager.

Cho appeals to all three of Winstar's target demographics, says Gurlitz.“We have three strategic focuses — international; wellness; and arts andperformance. It fit categorically into what we are doing.

"Margaret is more than just contemporary. She is very big with the gay audience,” Gurlitz says. “That market alone will make this financially successful for us and for anyone who carries it. When this came across our table, nobody batted an eye. It was a bull's-eye as soon as it hit our table.”

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