Margaret Cho was born and raised in San Francisco, California. She was schooled by old hippies, drag queens, and family on Haight Street. Cho has comedy in her blood. Her father writes joke books. You may not have read any, because they're all in Korean. Even though she and her father are in the same line of business, they don't run on the same line of comedy. Her father's books are the like of 1001 Jokes for Public Speakers. Cho says she and her father don't relate to each other's humor, but they connect on other levels.
Cho's comedy career began at the young age of 16 when she started performing stand-up in a neighborhood comedy club called The Rose & Thistle. She knew the owner well, as the club was located above the bookstore her parents ran. Soon she won a comedy contest. First prize was opening for Jerry Seinfeld. The show gave her the break every aspiring comedian hopes for, and she moved to Los Angeles in the early 90s. There, she lived in a house with several other young performers, all chasing their dreams. She soon moved out of the apartment to concentrate more on herself. Janeane Garofalo moved into her old room. Perhaps the room worked a little magic on them both.
Cho soon hit the college circuit. She was still in her early 20s so she had a young flare the students liked. They enjoyed seeing a peer up on stage talking about things they could relate to. Soon she was the most booked act in the market. She was nominated for Campus Comedian of the Year. She finally broke onto the main stage when Arsenio Hall introduced her to a late night television audience. Bop Hope gave her a prime time special. Soon, Margaret Cho became a national celebrity. She jumped into a short-lived sitcom on ABC called All-American Girl. She worried some of the 'ethnic' comedy might be a little too much for some audiences. In the end she was forced to water-down her comedy to appeal to a wider audience, and she ended up with an uninspired result. The show was canceled after a short run.
Margaret Cho's spirit was not dampened. She continued performing to sold-out audiences around the country. Tickets to every show of her nationwide tour sold quickly. In 1999 Cho launched a one-woman show called I'm The One That I Want. Soon after success with the show off-Broadway, she took to the road. Critics praised her nationwide. The show was made into a best-selling book and a feature film, both of the same name. The film broke records for the most money grossed per print in movie history. After the incredible success of her first show, she launched Notorious C.H.O., which became a smash hit on a 37-city national tour. Every ticket to the final show at Carnegie Hall sold out. Notorious C.H.O. was also recorded and released as a feature film.
After the success of her first two tours and films Cho embarked on her third. Like its predecessors, Revolution sold out across the country. The tour grossed 4.4 million dollars. A CD of the show was released in 2003. It was nominated for the Grammy for best comedy album of the year. The film of her third touring show premiered on the Sundance Channel in January of 2004. Cho's own production company also released a behind the scenes documentary of the tour titled, Behind the Revolution. Like many comedians of this era, Cho eventually decided to take on politics. She wrote the content for her fourth tour, titled State of Emergency, about the 2004 presidential elections.