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Margaret Cho Shares Her Hot Take on Menopause

Comedian is still going strong on her ‘Live & Livid’ stand-up tour

spinner image margaret cho against orange ombre background
Photo Collage: MOA Staff; (Source: Sergio Garcia)

Margaret Cho, 55, has been working as a stand-up comedian for 40 years, blending her humor with a passion for activism. “My most ardent wish in my comedy is to inspire hope, inspire optimism,” says Cho, who is currently traveling the country on her Live & Livid tour. The Emmy and Grammy-nominated performer tells AARP how her message has shifted over the years, how she’s keeping fit in her 50s and why she believes menopause is amazing.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

What’s the focus of your current comedy tour?

spinner image margaret cho with words margaret cho, live and livid comedy tour against pink and purple background
Cho is currently performing stand-up on her nationwide ‘Live & Livid’ comedy tour.
Sergio Garcia

I’m celebrating 40 years of being a stand-up comedian, so like Madonna’s tour, it’s a celebration of my amazing career that’s still going strong. I also talk about women’s rights, the ownership over our own bodies and the importance of protecting drag queens. Drag is a really big part of my life, and drag queens are among my friends and family, so I really want to stand up for them. Menopause is also a big part of the show, and I talk a lot about aging and how I relate to the world as a postmenopausal person.

What’s your take on menopause?

The big secret is menopause is really amazing, because it’s the first time in my life that I’m not posed with choices that are not my own. I think that menopause is [when] suddenly you’re given the option to make decisions not based on hormones, not based on the needs of other people, [and when] you can finally put your own needs first. And it’s really a powerful realization [of] how much, as a woman, I’ve put other people’s needs first. … Now, it’s amazing how I’m faced with this opportunity to find out what I want, which I think is the first time in most people’s lives that this happens.

How has your comedy routine changed over the years?

I think my comedy is much more thoughtful. I’m more considerate about what I’m saying. Comedy has also shifted, and there’s a lot more diversity in comedy, which I really appreciate. Today, there’s a lot of Asian American comedians, which is really exciting, and I’m grateful to see the difference.

Several Asian American actors and comedians — including Randall Park, Sherry Cola, Awkwafina and Joel Kim Booster — have mentioned in interviews that you inspired them. Do you see yourself as a role model?

It’s my greatest achievement. All of these different incredible performers are really my legacy, and I never let them forget it, because I’m always asking them for jobs! I’ll say, “Don’t you think you should have a mom in your show, or a character that’s the voice of reason?” So, I’m always hitting them up — I’m determined to ride their coattails forever. I love them and I’m grateful to them. They keep me active, they keep me young and they keep me working. I can’t ask for anything more.

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Besides comedy, what other projects are you currently working on?

I have a musical album that will probably be out by June. It’s my third album, and I’m really excited about it, because my lifelong dream has always been to be in The Bangles. I’m also doing a play in New York at some point. I’ve been writing this play for a while, and it’s finally done, and I just did some readings.

What’s one thing you’d like to accomplish that you haven’t done yet?

I would love to be part of Kennedy Center Honors and receive the Mark Twain [Prize] given to humorists. The Mark Twain award has gone to many of the people I’ve worked with over the years. I used to open for Jon Stewart, who received the award, and I’ve worked with Dave Chappelle a lot, and he was also an honoree. So I should have one. We’ll see.

How are you staying healthy and fit in your 50s?

I really prioritize sleep and rest. I have a really strong meditation practice, which also takes a lot of time and helps with my sleep. [NBA player] Lebron James says when he’s training, he sleeps 12 hours a day, and I think that’s actually a great goal. A big part of my life is really focusing my attention on what’s going to benefit me the most, and meditation and mental rest are very important. I also have a lot of animals that keep me physically active. I think as we get older, you have to really work out, even if it’s just walking, but it’s important to do it every day. … We have to get up and move. And fortunately, I have lots of living things — including a dog, three cats and my garden — that need me and keep me moving and also keep me young.

What are your favorite things to do to relax and unwind?

I go to a lot of comedy shows when I’m home in Los Angeles. I have a lot of young friends who are in comedy, and we all hang out. I also have a meditation community where I go and meditate with other people, which is such a trippy thing to do. It’s really great to [be] with people and not talk. I love it.

What do you know now that you wish you’d known 40 years ago?

How fast time goes. I don’t think we realize how precious time is until we’re faced with less of it. Time is the only nonrenewable resource we have, and it’s alarming how fast the years go by as we get older. There are things we can do to make time slow down, and meditation is one of them. I didn’t start meditating until I was in my 40’s, and I wish I had started at a much younger age. I was always in such a rush to do everything, and I realize now that it’s important to take that time.

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