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In 1994, when Margaret Cho was just 26 years old, she achieved what has become the Holy Grail for today's comedians: her very own sitcom. And not just any sitcom—the first U.S. sitcom to feature an Asian-American female star. It should have been a year of triumph for Cho; instead, it was a living hell. First, she lost all creative control. Then, the producers expressed anxiety about the "fullness" of her face. Cho soon found herself in a spiral of anorexia and diet-pill abuse, which led, when the show was canceled, to clinical depression and drug and alcohol abuse.
Margaret Cho not only survived--she came back with a comedic vengeance. I'm the One That I Want, her 1998 off-Broadway show, was her raucous, raunchy, howlingly funny yet searingly honest account of the dark years she'd been through. In 2000, a film version of the show was released at the Sundance Film Festival to near-delirious critical acclaim. In her new book, Cho expands on these experiences, finding deeper meaning and even more outrageous humor in her fateful encounter with the bizarre world of American network television. She can now say, in all seriousness, "I really love the way my life is going right now."
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Don't come to this bitter, engrossing memoir for a quick and easy laugh. The material that Margaret Cho has turned to such riotous ends in her stand-up act has a very different flavor on the page. An unpopular child (okay, hated and reviled), Cho made friends with the drag queens who worked in her father's bookstore, soon becoming a fag hag, and finding this mutual attraction "both nurturing and powerful, sweet and sour, retail and wholesale." "Drag queens are strong because they have so much to fight against," writes Cho, "homophobia, sexism, pink eye." To support herself at the beginning of her comedy career, Cho worked at FAO Schwarz, sometimes moonlighting in phone sex. Occasionally the jobs would overlap, and she would find herself doing phone sex dressed as Raggedy Ann. There isn't much here about Cho's early success, but she does delve at length into her disastrous sitcom, and devotes many pages to her battles with her weight, with drugs, and with alcohol, and her hopeless relationships with men (none of the bisexual material from her stage act is included here). Cho's message is about self-esteem in the face of consistent opposition from her family, the network that aired a "Margaret Cho" sitcom but permitted her no creative control, and a society that rewards women for thinness, whiteness, meekness, and a shut mouth. --Regina MarlerFrom the Inside Flap:
Comedian. Icon. TV star. Hollywood casualty. Role model. Trash talker. Fag hag. Gypsy. Tramp. Thief. Margaret Cho is the only living human being to be all these things without having multiple personality disorder and she displays them all in this funny, fierce, and honest memoir.
At age sixteen Margaret dropped out of school and began touring as a standup comedian. By twenty-three she was the star of her own sitcom, "All-American Girl", the groundbreaking show featuring television’s first Asian American family. But the road to fame wasn’t smooth, and when the sitcom crashed and burned, so did Margaret.
Without ever losing her trademark humor, Margaret tells her astonishing tale of dieting her way into the hospital, drinking her way into oblivion, then rising from the ashes in her smash-hit one-woman show and record-breaking concert film.
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.
I’m the One That I Want is filled with dead-on insights about the experience of being a woman with attitude. In her own wicked style, Margaret Cho has written a book every bit as funny, shocking, and irreverent as she is.
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