Six years after ABC jettisoned her sitcom, the "All-American Girl" star returns to the small screen

By Nicholas Fonseca
Updated October 05, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT

Margaret Cho knows something about getting the last laugh. The 32-year-old comedian and sometime actress turned the unceremonious axing of her ABC sitcom, All-American Girl, into a sidesplitting 1999 comedy tour, I’m the One That I Want, whose social commentary had critics heralding her as a female Lenny Bruce. Now she’s back on the tube, with the show’s telecast on Sundance Channel and with a fancy-pants commentator gig on the new PBS educational series Life 360 (both premiere Oct. 5). The self-proclaimed ”s–t starter” recently checked in with EW to rap about her return to TV and her latest stand-up tour, The Notorious C.H.O.

The new tour sounds like a rap tribute. Are you a fan?
I love rap. I think that’s the next wave of feminism—female rappers. It’s this power that is so not about men and not defined by men.

Your audiences are pretty rabid. Who do you see at your shows?
I feel sometimes like Britney Spears for the older gay gentleman. [Laughs] It’s gay men and women. It’s people of color. It’s young people. It’s hipsters. It’s really cool straight guys.

How is your comedy different from the shtick that’s on cable at 2 a.m.?
[It] can be ugly. Maybe comedians should just be witty and sweet and not challenge us, not show us what’s really happening. But I think I’d like to go deeper…. I think people are scared of me. Whenever I’m around, people are really conscious of racism or stereotypes.

Has TV’s landscape changed since All-American Girl?
Slightly. There’s a lot more opportunities for gays in television, things like Queer as Folk, and Six Feet Under f—ing rocks. But racially, I don’t think it’s changed at all.

What will it take before we see another Asian family at the center of a major series?
I don’t know. I would like to go back and do it, but at this point I’m so satisfied doing my own work that I don’t really have the need.

You starred in the season opener of Sex and the City as a high-strung fashionista. Who’s your favorite character?
I always say that I’m a Carrie with a Miranda rising. But for sheer laughs, it’s Samantha. Because she’s the ho-iest…and that’s just great.

What, exactly, is Life 360?
It’s a newsmagazine, taking one subject and looking at it from all sides. It’s really cool…sort of like 60 Minutes. I’m their Andy Rooney.

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