‘You Don’t Even Know You’re Invisible’: Margaret Cho Forces A Generation To Be Seen

Comedian Margaret Cho led a movement to bring diversity to network TV. She reflects on the benefits and costs of being an early mover.

Margaret Cho
Photo by Sergio Garcia
Margaret Cho
Photo by Sergio Garcia

‘You Don’t Even Know You’re Invisible’: Margaret Cho Forces A Generation To Be Seen

Comedian Margaret Cho led a movement to bring diversity to network TV. She reflects on the benefits and costs of being an early mover.

Margaret Cho, an elder stateswoman in comedy, began touring the stand up circuit as a teenager. She dropped out of school and, at age 23, launched the very first TV sitcom about an Asian-American family, All American Girl.

The show bombed. And in the immediate aftermath, she looked in the mirror (literally) to understand the failure.

“When the show was cancelled, my thought was ’I didn’t lose enough weight,’ ” Cho explained to Art of Power host Aarti Shahani.

Years later, she realized she was missing the historical context and the “invisibility” that Asian Americans were dealing with.

“When you’re dealing with invisibility, it’s really hard to put words to it because you don’t even know that you’re there,” Cho said. “You don’t even know that you’re invisible.”

Today, Cho is host of The Margaret Cho, a podcast on the EARIOS network, where she dedicated a season to discussing anti-Asian violence. Cho talks with Art of Power about her mistakes, including how she mistakenly looked up to a white male leader who was later convicted of voluntary manslaughter in the death of his wife. She also gives a mini-master class on what makes a joke funny (in case you wanted tips).