The stand-up comedienne, who currently stars in Netflix's Good on Paper, said Leno's apology was "meaningful."

By Lynette Rice
June 27, 2021 at 12:24 PM EDT
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On Netflix, Margaret Cho plays the lesbian friend we wish we all had in the Iliza Shlesinger comedy Good on Paper on Netflix. Off-camera, she counts Jay Leno - who recently apologized for telling racially insensitive jokes about Asian people - as one of her pals, too. Here, the 52-year-old comedienne talks about working opposite Shlesinger and how she's done feeling competitive toward other comics.

2016 Summer TCAs Getty Images Portrait Studio
Credit: Maarten de Boer/Getty Images

Comedian Iliza Shlesinger wrote and stars in this film about a single gal who thinks she's found a diamond-in-the-rough boyfriend, but her best friend Margot knows otherwise. How did you meet Iliza?

We met over social media and started talking about different things. With all women in comedy, we're all instantly friends because there is so much to say and we rarely see each other because we're always working. Female comedians are not competitive with one another. There are just so few of us.

Is this a movie about friendship or a revenge fantasy for frustrated single ladies?

I think it's really about the way society pits ourselves against ourselves,  the way we are always sort of jealous of other people who we think have something that we don't have. The biggest fear is to not die alone. Women are really encouraged to find the right one and get married. 

Is this your first lesbian role?

No, I've played quite a few over the years.  I mean, I considered them lesbians, even though they may not have been described that way. Like in Bright with Will Smith, I believed my character, Sergeant Ching, was a lesbian. They don't go into her story. I just put it in the character description in my mind. Only I know, maybe? 

As a bisexual actress, how are you feeling about LGBTQ representation in film and TV these days?

It's getting better. There could be more visual representation of how we see ourselves, but there seems to be more of an awareness of our needs in the media. 

What's next for you?

I'm going to do Jay Leno's CNBC show, actually.  

Did you book this before or after he apologized for his jokes about Asians? Leno's apology that was issued in March included the comment "At the time I did those jokes, I genuinely thought them to be harmless. I was making fun of our enemy North Korea, and like most jokes, there was a ring of truth to them." Do you remember those?

Frankly, Asian jokes go over my head because I've heard so many of them. I do a noise-canceling thing with them. I booked Jay quite a while ago. For him to step up and take respon­sibility is very meaningful. I'm so pleased with his response. I accept apologies. 

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