Comedian. Icon. TV star. Role model. Trash talker. Fag hag. Gypsy. Tramp. Thief. Margaret Cho displays her numerous sides in this funny, fierce, and honest memoir. As one of the country’s most visible Asian Americans, she has a unique perspective on identity and acceptance. As one of the country’s funniest and most quoted personalities, she takes no prisoners. And as a warm and wise woman who has seen the highs and lows of life, she has words of encouragement for anyone who has ever felt like an outsider. With I’m the One That I Want, Margaret Cho has written a book every bit as hilarious, shocking, and insightful as she is.
Expanding on her one-woman show (and film) of the same title, comedian Cho mines her improbable life. The misfit daughter of Korean immigrants in San Francisco (who named her Moran, which she likens to naming a kid "Asshill"), she dropped out of high school, gaining success in stand-up even as she succumbed to self-loathing, substance abuse, bad boyfriends and the siren song of Hollywood. As star of the first Asian-American sitcom (All-American Girl), she was forced to diet herself into sickness even as the show strayed from her story and quickly foundered. This book runs into the inevitable challenge of converting performance into print; neither a script nor a fully fleshed-out memoir, it works episodically but ultimately fizzles. Descriptions of the endless lousy men in Cho's life, perhaps disarming onstage, become tedious on the page. Still, she finds humor in pathos. Working on a pilot with a sitcom writer, she held back the truth: "I was unemployed and trying to kick a sick crystal meth habit by smoking huge bags of paraquat-laced marijuana and watching Nick at Night for six hours at a time. Now, that's a sitcom." Cho knows how great comics tend toward self-destruction, finding it hard to come down from stage adulation. Still, her discovery of self-esteem and New Agey conclusions ("I discovered there was a goddess deep inside me") are something that an acerbic comedian like Cho shouldn't embrace without irony.